Written by Andrew Spiegel
I recently had the chance to speak with a professional filmmaker and ask her a few questions. She has shot commercials for big brands and companies such as Target, Toms, Beats Music, American Girl Doll, and NASCAR, and she has even given a TEDx talk. The filmmaker is 15-year-old Amelia Conway, who actually went to Dripping Springs Middle School up until the end of her 7th grade year when she ended up moving out to Los Angeles to pursue her career that same year.
“I chose [to pursue] filmmaking because it was always something I was fascinated by,” Conway said. “My parents [have] worked in the industry since I was a kid so I was already drawn to it, and in a way, although I never planned on having a specific label in the industry, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. The real reason I started working was because I signed up with my management company which gave me a push towards getting the experience I needed to create a future for myself in the movie making industry, no matter what job I were to end up doing.”
With all her accomplishments presented my biggest question was: how did this happen? When she was just 11 years old, she grabbed a camera, a flashlight and a friend and shot a music video to Bon Iver’s song “Wolves”.
“This video I made was completely out of boredom, something to pass the time,” Conway said. “I made it because I just wanted something to make, not because I wanted to start directing professionally.”
Little did she know that after her mother posted the video online, she would sign with a talent agency.
“[Signing] gave me a push towards getting the experience I needed to create a future for myself in the movie making industry,” Conway said.
As many directors would, Conway pulls inspiration from all corners of her life. She is not only influenced by other films but also by music, fashion and architecture.
“I look up to people that have had to work to get to where they are,” Conway said. “Designers like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Thierry Mugler, Yohji Yamamoto; Directors and filmmakers like Larry Clark and Wong Kar-wai. I could go on forever.
Being only 15 years old, Conway currently attends a public high school in Los Angeles.
“Not counting my failing grades, my life at school is really great,” Conway said. “Being back in LA has allowed me to meet all my creative, beautiful friends that I get to take pictures of and paint and make memories with. My experiences at school, meeting people and learning, has allowed me to build as a person and learn not to limit myself to one job. I’ve been able to find a passion for production design, photography, editing, fashion design and even party and event planning.”
Since Conway was so successful at such a young age, she was asked to give a TEDx talk at Manhattan Beach.
“Because I had practiced and rehearsed a ridiculous amount over the previous three months, it wasn’t as hard to actually get the words out, but actually walking up on stage felt very surreal,” Conway said. “It’s almost like they called my name, I stood up there for a few minutes and walked off. It happened incredibly fast and was almost a complete blur of emotions and nerves and unfamiliar faces in a room full of old rich white people.”
Within the film industry, Conway has achieved more than the average 15 year old. But she still is not satisfied with where she is; she has bigger goals on the horizon.
“I can definitely see myself leaving commercials and moving on to learn and experience other parts of the movie making process,” Conway said. “The advertising industry is great for people that genuinely love it, and there are definitely people that do, but personally, I think the advertising industry isn’t the best place for younger people because of the exploitation that comes with the label ‘young filmmaker’. That world just isn’t for me, and it’s amazing that I’ve had the opportunities to explore it and learn from it to know where I want to be in the future; but personally, I plan on moving on to become a production designer and doing more behind-the-camera work as I’m more of a hands-on person. Although, it’s super fun to be in charge on set to see your vision come to life.”