LOS ANGELES– Meet Kelly Lake ’11, assistant production manager for Illumination Entertainment. Her most recent work includes her involvement with “Secret Life of Pets,” the new family film that hit movie theatres this summer. Learn more in the Q&A!
Q: What was your major at Westminster College? What year did you graduate?
Q: What specific experiences did Westminster College provide that enabled you to graduate with confidence?
A: There were so many positive learning experiences at Westminster that enabled me to graduate with confidence. My capstone project in particular was a great opportunity to improve my critical thinking and communication skills. I was fortunate to have excellent faculty advisors and members of my Honors Board who guided me as I completed my capstone, especially Dr. Sprow, Dr. Swerdlow, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Bersett, and Dr. Ade. Being able to sit with them individually to discuss my progress was imperative. They always allocated time in their busy schedules, offered honest and insightful advice, and showed genuine interest in my project. I am well aware that students at other schools don’t often have those positive, constructive interactions with faculty. I also TA’ed in the Learning Center, which allowed me to work with many fellow students and taught me that there’s always room for improvement, both educationally and personally.
Q: What is your current position? Location? When did you land that role?
A: I am currently an Assistant Production Manager at Illumination Entertainment. We are owned by Universal and our offices are located in Santa Monica, CA. I’ve been with the company for four years, starting as a Production Intern in 2012 while I was completing my M.A. in Film at UCLA.
Q: Why do you think you were the optimal candidate for the job?
A: I started as an intern at the company back in 2012, and seemed to fit in pretty well. I sufficiently completed various tasks as an intern and got along with everybody at the office. When one of the assistants to a production executive left the company, I was offered her position. I worked as an assistant for the executive in charge of the ride “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem” for Universal Studios Orlando, and after a few months, I was transferred to the production department to work on the films.
Q: What has been your greatest accomplishment in your role?
A: I think my greatest accomplishment is the work I’ve contributed to four movies which I am very proud of—Despicable Me 2, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing, which will be released this December. Each one was a fun and unique experience, and I got to work with some amazing artists, writers, producers, editors, and other crew members. It feels good to see your name in the credits alongside your friends and other colleagues after working together on a movie for several years.
Q: Tell me about your affiliation with “Secret Life of Pets.”
A: I worked on The Secret Life of Pets for over three years, initially as a Production Assistant and ultimately finishing the project as a Script Coordinator. During production, I helped process all the scripts that were delivered by our writers, and also helped manage all the recording sessions.
Q: Tell me about being behind the scenes. Is it what you expected? What’s been the best part?
A: Being behind-the-scenes of an animated feature production is exciting, but also a lot of work. People don’t realize that it can take 3-5 years to complete an animated film, so a crew member will devote a little chunk of their life to a single movie. The filmmaking process is highly collaborative, so production also includes a lot of meetings and group screenings. The best part was earlier this year when I got to meet Trey Parker, the creator of my favorite show, “South Park.” He portrays the villain in our upcoming movie “Despicable Me 3,” and having the opportunity to meet him, watch him work, and even visit his studio was a highlight of my career so far.
Q: If you were to give a Westminster College student a piece of advice, what would it be?
A: My piece of advice: Improve your writing skills. Constructing a coherent sentence might sound simple, but it’s surprising to me how many adults are unable or unwilling to do so. When you submit a scholarship application, cover letter, or resume that is actually well-written, you’re already ahead of the game, and you’ll be considered more seriously by potential employers. So if you’re still a student at Westminster, take advantage of the Learning Center, write for one of the student publications, or take classes that will help you improve your writing skills, because you’ll need those skills to succeed.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being a Westminster College alumnus?
A: I built so many great relationships at Westminster and I love keeping in touch with my friends, sorority sisters, and former professors. I also enjoy receiving updates about current students and faculty and their amazing accomplishments. I participated in last year’s Homecoming & Reunion planning committee, and while I was unable to attend Homecoming because of our production schedule, it was fun to play a small role in the planning of the event. I am very proud to be an alumna of Westminster and I look forward to seeing it thrive in the future.
This story is a contribution from the Marketing and Communications office at Westminster College.