It was an unbreakable bond that formed between senior Sophie Olson and the film screen after witnessing “The Incredibles” for the first time. From this earliest encounter, Olson’s passion for film has yet to cease.
One could say the first woman in film that Olson was inspired by was Violet Parr, the oldest child of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl.
Parr became Olson’s favorite character — the movie taking over her life and becoming a piece of her. From then on, film would continue to have a large impact on Olson’s life, becoming a motivation and aspiration.
In elementary school, Olson started making videos of herself and her friends, scripting them herself and forcing her neighbors to be her co-stars. Directing these videos as well, she became a director, writer and producer in record time.
Windows Movie Maker became Olson’s most-used application on her computer, splicing together scenes and creating art out of her footage. Going into middle school, she continued to edit and make these videos, uploading to YouTube and fine-tuning her craft.
Although these videos online are listed private now, her content ranged from vlogs to concert outfits and music videos.
In high school, Olson took a video editing class, which was when it clicked that this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
“I knew from the first year that there’s literally nothing else I could do,” Olson said.
She continued to take videography classes, as well as a class through Huntington University offered at her high school that focused on broadcast journalism.
Olson chased stories and reported them on camera, waking up at 7 a.m. just to get a scoop. She jumped on the chance to set up a tripod and coordinate a shot for her school’s student news, getting a longer look into the filmmaking process.
But her passion remained in editing and has continued to stay there throughout college.
When it’s hard to focus, editing calms her down, the process becoming therapeutic.
“It’s fun to cut things together, and it just feels really logical for me,” Olson said.
Others noticed her talent in the editing space as well, and in 2021, Olson won the award for best editor at the Envision film festival.
While she started off school at Grace College, she knew the film program at Taylor was what she wanted to pursue. Her sophomore year, she transferred and became a film and media production major.
Usually a very competitive person, Olson valued the teamwork and emphasis on collaboration in the Taylor film department.
“The Taylor film department has really taught me not to compare my work to other people’s, because my weaknesses in some areas are other people’s strengths,” Olson said.
Olson has also valued Film Department Co-chair Kathy Bruner. With encouraging emails and always extending a hand to those in the program, Olson describes her as the backbone of the department. She has also incredibly appreciated Bruner’s dedication to seeing women in film thrive.
Being a woman in film is difficult. In an industry dominated by men, space for women is slim, but it continues to widen.
Looking up to directors like Greta Gerwig and seeing other women directors rising like Olivia Wilde, Olson is hopeful for the future of film, and she notices the impact that film has on growing generations.
She recognizes the responsibilities that filmmakers carry.
“We are responsible for creating a culture in a way,” Olson said. “Who we put in films is what the younger generation will look at and see as like ‘I could be that.’”
It’s crucial that every audience member can look at a screen and not feel separated or distanced from a story.
When someone isn’t able to see someone like them on screen, it’s harder to grasp a future in which they could be part of the film industry.
If someone is able to see themself on screen, dreams are encouraged and uplifted.
“What I love about film is that you can use (it) to tell people’s stories,” Olson said. “There are so many amazing stories.”
Olson aspires to take this with her and actively pursue this truth in her future endeavors. Film, like any other career, holds weight. Olson is using hers with integrity and strength.