Kelly Erickson never imagined she’d be working at one of the most famous movie production studios on the planet — or, you might say, the entire universe.
This year, she started working at Lucasfilm, the well-regarded firm responsible for some of the most famous movies of all time, including the Star Wars franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many others.
“I work in the Physical Production department, so I help with the scheduling, budgeting and logistical management of the shows,” she says. “The role is quite varied — it can be everything from being on set, to building shoot schedules and calendars, to creating policies and procedures, to setting up the production office, to pitching creative ideas to help keep the show on schedule and on budget — anything the project and crew needs to keep things running smoothly.”
As a Crown PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) student in 2003-04 who then enrolled full-time until graduating with a B.A. in Liberal Arts in 2008, Erickson has followed a unique path in the entertainment field, and it all started with a step of faith.
Out of her comfort zone
Crown College is located in a pristine setting with rolling hills, a lake nearby, and the charming communities of St. Bonifacius and Waconia. For Erickson, this setting worked out perfectly, and she says many of the lessons she learned during those years were more intangible.
She learned how to think more independently, to face her fears, and to worry less about obtaining perfection.
“This growth came in many ways: by being challenged to think outside the box from a variety of teachers and classes, by pushing myself beyond my limits while discovering I could handle more than I thought, by learning that trying to be perfect in order to avoid failure was only limiting myself, and by finding support from people who accepted me for who I was,” she says.
It wasn’t until she left for an internship at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center in 2007 that she felt pushed out of her comfort zone (and into a much larger metro area). She also participated in a singing group called LifeVoice, which also meant traveling outside of Minnesota.
“While it might have been scary at first, those were experiences that became some of the most formative and memorable times of my entire life, and made me realize how much fear of the unknown had been holding me back,” she now recalls. “I am forever grateful — I never would have had those opportunities if it wasn’t for Crown.”
Working on famous movies
Her internship at Los Angeles Film Studies Center proved to be a major step forward. After graduating, she started looking for jobs at movie studios in the L.A. area.
She landed her first major job at Overture Films in Los Angeles, which then evolved into a role at Relativity Media, where she served as the Executive Assistant to the President of Marketing. She supported the team responsible for creating the posters, trailers, and other media for a variety of movies, including Limitless starring Bradley Cooper.
From there, she moved into a new job in production at 20th Century Fox working on movies like The Book Thief and X-Men: Days of Future Past, then worked at Marvel TV in the Production department on a number of Marvel’s Netflix television shows, including Daredevil and Jessica Jones. (Some of her work is on display at Crown College in the Communication program’s photo studio, where posters are on the walls for many of these movies and shows.)
A fellow classmate, who is now an Assistant Professor of Communication at Crown, remembers working with Erickson and watching her career blossom over time.
“When we were students together at Crown, Kelly showed nothing but kind friendship as well as the epitome of professionalism,” recalls Jonathan Vinson, a 2011 graduate. “After completing her internship, she launched into her career in film and TV in L.A.”
Challenges of the movie industry
Of course while the road to success seems smooth, Erickson was quick to point out that there are challenges working in the entertainment industry at times.
“You have to find the balance between what you know to be true in your own life, while still seeking to understand and relate to others around you,” she says. “Everyone comes from their own unique experiences and points of view, and no two journeys are the same.”
The relationships Erickson made while at Crown and while attending the Los Angeles Film Studies Center helped her immensely with making the move out to the L.A. area and forming a new community.
“While there are a ton of people in Los Angeles, it can feel quite isolating in such a large city,” she says. “Being able to find and connect with like-minded people with similar backgrounds and perspectives on life was overwhelmingly comforting and helpful — it helped me feel at home in a city that otherwise felt lonely at times.”
Another big help? Erickson stayed in contact with a couple of her closest Crown professors, one of whom told her it is impossible to love others and judge them at the same time.
“It’s easy to criticize things you can’t relate to, or misunderstand people who are different from you, but I’m learning how to be open-minded and loving while still staying grounded in my own convictions,” she says.
In the end, as Erickson continues to explore new frontiers in the entertainment industry, those firmly planted ideals have helped her stay rooted — no matter what the universe brings.