When you grow up in Indiana, you know about the Indianapolis 500. I remember an art assignment to draw your favorite Indycar in elementary school. I remember poring over the front page of the Indianapolis Star to find out where my favorite drivers had qualified (Scott Goodyear, Mario Andretti, and Lyn St. James). I remember listening to the race on the radio, then begging to stay up late to watch the whole broadcast that night, even though I already knew the outcome.
For the Month of May, racing was a Very Big Deal to this Indiana kid. But it was only for that month. Racing wasn’t something I thought much about the rest of the year. It didn’t even occur to me that I could be part of the motorsports world. So how did I end up as an editor at IMS Productions, spending a lot of my time looking at race cars on a video monitor?
For me, it started with stories, stories of any kind, any medium, any genre. I loved to read, to watch TV, and especially go to the movie theater. I don’t remember it, but my mom likes to tell the story of my first trip to a movie theater. We saw 101 Dalmatians. She says I sat there and stared, blindly taking bites of popcorn and sips of soda, my eyes never leaving the screen.
Of course, a lot of kids like movies. It's not that unusual. But for me, it didn’t stop with just enjoying the movie. I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand how they were made. I wanted to know about the writer, the actors, the director, everyone behind the scenes.
When I got to my junior year of high school, I started thinking seriously about my future. Where should I go to college? What should I study? What do I want to do with my life? The only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to be involved in film and television somehow. I wanted to help tell stories.
The summer before my senior year, my mom and I visited family in the Los Angeles area. My mom convinced me to go on a tour of the University of Southern California campus. I wasn’t planning on going that far away from home for college, but its film school has a great reputation, so I decided to at least check it out. By the end of the tour, I'd decided it was the place I wanted to be.
USC offered some specific tracks of study, like screenwriting, production, or animation, but since I was unsure about what specific path I wanted to take, I enrolled as a cinema-television studies major. I hoped that would give me time to find out what I really wanted to do within the entertainment world, and it did.
I took a class called “Cinema-Television Production.” It’s a required class for every student of the film school. In the class, each student makes a series of short films in a three week cycle. The first week was pre-production. You write your film, cast it, figure out where to shoot, etc. The second week was production. You’d borrow one of the school’s cameras and shoot your film. The third week was post-production. You’d take the footage you shot into one of the school computer labs and edit it into your final product. At the end of the three weeks, you’d screen your finished film to the class and discuss it. Then, you’d start the cycle all over again the next week.
I discovered quickly that the part of the process I loved was editing. It was fascinating to me that you can change the meaning or the mood of a scene by switching the order of shots, or changing their length. Editing is like putting a puzzle together, but there’s no one right way to do it. After that production class ended, I took a class that was focused on editing. That class confirmed for me that I’d found what I wanted to do. I also started working at USC’s student run TV station as an editor.
After I graduated, I struggled to find work right away. Honestly, it was pretty discouraging. I had utility bills, rent, and loan payments looming. I researched production houses in Los Angeles. I made calls, and sent resumes and demos. I finally got a few interviews, but they went nowhere. Then, finally, I got two part-time jobs in the same week. The hours were long, and usually on nights and weekends, but I learned a lot. I worked at both of those jobs for about six months, before I decided that Los Angeles wasn't home, and my future was in Indiana.
When I moved back home to Indiana, I went through the same discouraging job hunt. I researched production houses in Indianapolis, made calls, and sent resumes and demos, but no one was hiring. I couldn't even get an interview this time. I was living with my parents, my job search going nowhere for months, wondering if I'd made a big mistake. Then, I found out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was hiring seasonal employees for the summer. I decided it might be healthy to pause my search for an editing job and just find a job.
In April of 2006, I started working at the gift shop in the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. It wasn't the job I dreamed of getting, but I finally felt like I was moving forward, not backward. At the end of the summer, I got an opportunity to stay on with the Speedway and move over to the gift shop's mail order warehouse. I decided to take the opportunity, but I also planned to return to my search for an editing job. I had no idea at the time, but I would end up finding the job I wanted very soon, and very nearby.
I'd worked in mail order a few months when I saw an IMS job posting for a “videotape librarian” at IMS Productions. The mail order office was in a building called the Brickyard Plaza, right across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IMS Productions was just a few doors down in the same building. When I had my interview, all I had to do was walk a few hundred feet to IMSP's office.
I didn't get the job as the video librarian right away, but I was hired as a logger. I started working part-time at IMSP in February of 2007. By May, I was full time as the video librarian. I learned a lot, and fast, about the business and racing. My supervisors knew I wanted to edit, and gave me chances to cut videos whenever possible. I took advantage of those chances and learned from the editors already on staff. (Thanks Mark, R. Dave, and Courtney!) By 2009, I was a full-time editor.
We work on a lot of racing projects at IMSP for IndyCar and IMS, but we have a lot of other projects outside the motorsports world. I've work on videos to help raise funds for Eskenazi Health. I cut a series of videos leading up to the last summer Olympics on everything from rugby to rowing. I've edited :30 spots and 30 minute TV shows. It's a wide variety, but whatever the project is, they're all stories that I'm helping to tell.
It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My career path took some strange and unexpected turns along the way. You never know where and when you'll find the right opportunity that opens the right door. When I took that job at the IMS gift shop, I had no idea it would get me where I wanted to go, but it did. I can't say that working in motorsports was a childhood dream of mine, but I think that Indiana kid who grew up loving the Indy 500 would be pretty happy about where she ended up.