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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: JAXON LESSLER (BA ’19)

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JAXON LESSLER

How did the skills you learned in Cinema help you in your current job?  There is so much overlap between what I learned and exercised in Cinema and what I do as a Post. P.A. for Heart Sleeve Creative (a trailer house). Some things I correctly assumed would help me in my post-grad job – learning to use Adobe Creative Cloud and Pro Tools, how to organize post assets, recording V.O. in the sound booth, the importance of story and three act structure (trailers have those too!) and what we were taught about the marketing and distribution process. Other tasks that I thought would start and end with the summer intensives ended up being useful on the job practices too – logging hours, making dailies notes and even filing receipts!

What’s your favorite summer intensive memory? As a student who was on the post production track, I usually stayed away from on set jobs. However, doing BTS on Too Many Wooks with Laura surprised me with the amount of fun I had. Being able to watch and record everybody performing their different duties taught me a lot about the way a set works. I also loved when all of us in the Too Close To The Sun art department wore fake earrings when setting up the bar scene, inspiring me to get real ones a few months later.

How was the transition from school to the working in the industry?

The transition from Richmond student to full time Angeleno employee was the scariest, most stressful, but also most exciting part of my life so far. I had to drive out of Virginia a boy and arrive in California a… bigger boy. I knew what I wanted to do – acquire an entry level position at a trailer house. So, I applied to every trailer house in L.A. whether they had job postings or not, and was lucky enough to hear back from 3 of the about 50 places I reached out to. I was accepted at my second interview, and have been happily working there for the past month and a half. Adulting! It’s just like collegeing, but with less time, money, and people your age.

What was your favorite movie you saw for the first time through Cinema? Maybe it’s just because it’s October, but A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has been both on my mind and on rotation in my playlist lately. It was first shown to me as a freshman in Cinematheque, and then again as a senior in Professor Tyree’s Adaptation in Cinema class last semester. It captures a horror aesthetic specific to SoCal that can be hard to find in this summery desert, so thank you Ana for giving me my autumn kick I’ve been missing from home. I can’t pass by one of those fang-like oil drills here without thinking of her film. Also, members of Tyree’s Adaptation class will be happy to learn that Michael Caine’s “Strawberry Cough” from Children of Men is readily and legally available in California.

What’s the most important aspect of Cinema? Cinema’s most important characteristic is its emphasis on collaboration. Not only are we prepared for the team mindset that a set requires, but by learning about and exploring the different opportunities in the industry in a group, we discover our relationship to filmmaking along with our peers rather than in a void. For example, a student can find out how they work as a director not only by how they envision and plan the film, but how they interact with the student DP or producers or actors. As an editor, figuring out how to work creatively alongside the director and producers might be just as if not more important than the editing itself.

Another alum killing it WEEKS after finishing out the Cinema Program! We’re so excited for the amazing work Jaxon is doing at Heart Sleeve Creative!! The trailer house has produced work for so many great films, from Them That Follow to Get Out. Check them out at www.heartsleeve.com