Jumping Into The Creative World: An interview with Wieden+Kennedy Motions Producer, Brit Phelan

Field Notes Interview #72: Brit Phelan, Motions Producer

We asked Wieden + Kennedy Motions Producer, Brit Phelan, a few questions about her evolving story and role in the creative world of sound design, motion and filmmaking.

Sometimes the scariest part of finding your creative voice is jumping into the deep end and searching for it from there. The path of where you need to go is often one that takes you there in unexpected ways. Time and persistence fueled by passion is the winning combination of knowing where to go when opportunity arises.

For Brit Phelan, her journey to her creative role has been her involvement on both sides of the camera. Starting off on the east, she found different roles in film production and eventually made her way across the country to Portland. Now firmly placed in her role as Motions Producer, Phelan has helped create some of the most innovative ad campaigns in the past year. We've learned more about her philosophy of the magical collaboration between sound, vision and everything between. Enjoy.

M: Who are you and what do you do in the world?

BP: Brit Phelan, here! I’m an editor, camera operator, and occasional director. Currently, working at Wieden+Kennedy. I watch videos, and I like making them more. The visual voice expresses itself in ways that words scarcely can do. So, I like talking to eyes. When I’m not at work I can be found making music videos, short films, or working with She Shreds Magazine. 

M: How did you come into the filmmaking world?

BP: I began my career as an extra living in Manhattan being cast in various TV shows. Through a ton of networking, I had the chance to be a producer's assistant (PA). I worked on shorts and docs diving into any role that needed to be filled. Within the year, I landed a job as an editor and camera operator at a stock footage company called Videoblocks. From there, I decided why not move out west for a bit, and shortly after, landed in Portland. It’s here that I had the opportunity to work for Swanson Studio, where I learned the art of lighting and crafted a filming/editing style. This led to projects on TV shows, music videos, and eventually working for Wieden + Kennedy.

M: What was the first project you were ever a part of?

BP: First legit project was working as a producer’s assistant on the documentary Cropsey. It involved all the running around one would assume a PA would be doing in Manhattan, which also involved responding to letters sent from Andre Rand – A suspected serial killer from Staten Island, trippy.

M: How did you make the transition to Portland?

BP: I had the itch to be in a new city, and the determination to break into the film scene. I just found an opportunity and drove across country.

M: What's a common pitfall in your profession?

BP: Not sure I could call it a pitfall, but a common misconception about filming is that the majority of a project is on set. The truth of it is a lot of my time in projects are spent more in post production. 

M: How important is sound design to film?

BP: Film is the juxtaposition of the most effective ways of communicating. It can be broken down into so many things like speech, music and visuals. It’s not one single component, and there's no hierarchy between the crafts. In fact, when it comes down to it, visuals are only a small portion to a viewer's experience. Sound and music are equally as important to what your eyes are viewing. It’s the equation of all these different disciplines that makes film so beautiful.

M: What is the importance of music to film?

BP: A painting in a museum evokes emotion, music makes us dance, and reading the pages in a book puts us in a different world. It’s the collaboration of all the crafts that truly make film, film. 

M: How do you balance creativity with every day work?

BP: Creativity is not meant to be contained. It seeps through everything I do and brings new insights to even the day-to-day grind.

M: What was the last album you've listened to?

BP: 'Marquee Moon,' while walking home last night.

M: What's one thing you would tell someone starting out in filmmaking?

BP: Just jump in. 

Posted on February 1, 2016 and filed under Field Notes.