Cinema Arts Faculty Feature: Meet Kelly Donnellan, Award-Winning Editor and Director
Kelly Donnellan, M.F.A., joined the Department of Cinema Arts in Fall 2022
"I’ve been fortunate to have many real-world experiences in my career as an editor and as a teacher, all of which inform my teaching today. I create my lectures with the industry in mind so that the students will have the necessary skills when they graduate."
Tell us about your career path and what brought you to Point Park University.
I started my career a million miles away from filmmaking and editing. I received an academic scholarship, and I earned a B.S. in Physical Therapy from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. I worked as a physical therapist for several years, which is how I paid for film school.
After I earned my B.F.A., I went to Los Angeles to work as an intern on a feature film for $100 a week. I parlayed that experience into various jobs. The highlights include: an independent narrative feature (Love Liza), a behind-the-scenes documentary (The Matrix Revisited), several DVD special features/electronic press kits (The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix, and Enter the Matrix video game) as well as a feature length animated film (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie).
I began my teaching career as an adjunct/part-time lecturer at The University of Idaho in the Journalism and Mass Media Department. After I received my M.F.A., I taught at Wayne State University’s Department of Communication in Detroit for 10 years. Last year, I was a visiting faculty of picture editing at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking in Winston-Salem.
I came to Point Park University and the Department of Cinema Arts because it is housed within the Conservatory of Performing Arts. Having trained and taught at a Conservatory, I believe in the hands-on, rigorous nature of a Conservatory education.
How do you incorporate your real-world experiences into the classes you teach?
I’ve been very fortunate to have many real-world experiences in my career as an editor and as a teacher, all of which inform my teaching today. I create my lectures with the industry in mind so that the students will have the necessary skills when they graduate. I have Zoomed my industry connections into the classroom for guest lectures with my students, which was a great success.
What can students expect in your classes?
I like to give practical, hands-on activities followed by a lecture whenever I can. When I’m teaching an editing software (Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid Media Composer), I aim to show students the creative possibilities of editing, which can be great fun once they get over the “technological hump.” I have ADHD, and sometimes I can go off on tangents when I teach. It’s a pesky feature of this disorder, and I’m learning to be at peace with this aspect of my brain.
What advice do you have for a student considering Point Park’s cinema arts programs?
Learning filmmaking at a Conservatory is a rigorous process. Students must anticipate putting in many hours of hard work to master their craft. To quote a movie (A League of Their Own) “Hard is what makes it great!”
What are you most looking forward to at Point Park?
I’m excited to work with my students as they craft their films in the editing room. To me, editing is magical! I’m very much looking forward to working with my colleagues in department and in the Conservatory of Performing Arts.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I could talk about movies ALL. DAY. LONG. I’m a huge film geek! Also, I have two cats: Sally Menke, named after the film editor, and Bentley, named after my grandfather.
Photo by Madi Fisher '24