We had the good fortune of connecting with Elissa Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elissa, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
The active decision to pursue whatever made me happy was the most definitive choice that has contributed to my success. In pursuit of a career, or a destiny, that has to be an absolute priority. There were several moments in my life that were distinct forks in the road, and when those choices presented themselves I chose happiness over security every single time. The only real security we have is in finding our purpose. The intent of your intuition is to guide you along this life path, and following that leads to a sense of fulfillment.
Being a freelancer is difficult because there’s no guarantee that the work is coming, you just have to have faith. This faith and commitment to happiness is what undoubtedly allowed for everything to unfold for me in the perfect way to where I get to do what I love every day. Obviously, I work hard when the work comes, but I don’t force it, I don’t overwork and I am just eternally grateful to get to do what I love.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
So I started as a Production Assistant in Georgia working on bigger features and tv series (The Walking Dead, First Man, Hunger Games, etc) and I collected my days (~768) to apply to the DGA. Now, I’m a NY Area CQL 2nd Assistant Director, which means I can work as a 2nd AD on any set in America (besides Southern California *eye roll*). But I really enjoy working as a 1st Assistant Director in this music video world, it’s just so much fun.
The 1st Assistant Director is in charge of scheduling the shoot and being the pressure on set to execute that vision. Honestly, I have never seen anyone run a set like I do. It’s easy (and sometimes necessary) for ADs to be authoritative and perhaps militant, but I have a sort of delightful dominance, assertiveness, and aggressive positivity. I love what I do and I believe that radiates in how I work. I prioritize talking to people with respect and doing everything with love. Of course I’ve had challenges, but I firmly believe that they were all for the purpose of growth. I used to think no one would take me seriously, and the wrong people don’t. But I have found the respect and appreciation that allows me to fully be myself while I do my job.
On this journey, I will be expanding my production company, Boss Moves. I primarily work as a 1st Assistant Director, and I’m not putting any pressure on myself to expand my own company any faster. I will be writing, directing, producing a multitude of content through my company in the coming years and I am just patiently awaiting projects that make my heart happy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For beach, we’re hitting up Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, because I prefer to have the shade of the palm trees while we’re on the beach. For going out, we can hit up El Patio on Sunday and dance. Generally, not big on going out and crowds and much more prefer a low key vibe. Lagniappe is a good option if my acid reflux is at bay, good live music and outdoor vibes. Honestly, if I’m leaving the house I always prefer to be on the way to a shoot, I love working! Miami is host to so many beautiful cultures and people, I also enjoy taking friends on bike or scooter rides just around downtown.
(Seriously, I love being at home, I am a terrible host hahaa)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been working consistently with Film Heads Production Company for several months now and the respect and love that goes into every project is incomparable. Jose Sagaro and the team have been so welcoming since we first worked together, we have not stopped. I have never felt more like I can be myself previously to working with them. The content we create together and the love and respect that it’s made with is truly something special.
We have such a large network of people that we work with in the film and music video business, it is overwhelming to think about all the people I absolutely cherish and appreciate, this does not happen alone.
Additionally, I would be ignorant to think that I could have done any of this without friends who let me sleep on their couches, feed me when I’m hungry, or any help along the way while I fearlessly made all of these risky pursue-my-own-happy moves. Knowing that you can never fall too hard no matter how much you risk is what has allowed me to have the faith that everything is working out in my favor.
If I was to add a book, it would be You Are A Badass At Making Money, life changing for anyone who wants to make money doing what they love.