Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Advanced Television and Film
Year of graduation: 2008
People don’t often get the chance to turn their passion into a job, but that is exactly what Heli Kennedy did. With the help of Sheridan, she turned her love of writing and filmmaking into a busy and satisfying career.
Growing up in downtown Toronto, Heli started writing when she was seven years old, creating her own story lines based off the world of author J.R.R. Tolkien. A self-described obsession with golden-era Hollywood films led to Heli and her friends making their own short films and the focus of her writing shifted to movies.
By the time she applied to Sheridan, Heli was already writing and developing short films on her own. She was attracted to Sheridan’s Advanced Television and Film program’s industry-based focus and philosophy of learning by practice which pushed her to reach a higher skill level.
After graduation Heli hit the ground running. She received the National Screen Institute’s Drama Prize in 2009 for writing Distilled Love and was chosen to attend the Canadian Film Centre’s Writer’s Lab the following year. A recent highlight for Heli has been writing the Orphan Black: Helsinki comic book series, based on the award-winning sci-fi TV show Orphan Black. The first of the five-issue series debuted in November 2015. “Watching my writing take shape via the artists is amazing. I have a lot of respect for illustrators, animators — all visual artists,” says Heli.
Working with artists of all disciplines keeps her engaged and helps stoke the creative process, says Heli. “The variety of people I collaborate with and meet is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this industry. Actors, directors, screenwriters, novelists — so many fascinating perspectives and voices. Sharing stories, creative work and ideas are exciting ways to connect with others. I’m never bored.”
Of course, the life of an independent artist is never easy, she adds. “The most challenging aspect is maintaining the role of the entrepreneur while writing. Creators always have to keep the wheels in motion, and not just artistically. It’s a juggling game between business and art and pushing properties while developing new ones.”
The best advice that Heli has to offer is not new: get out there as much as possible, meet people and keep generating work. Also, produce work that you want to see. “If you’re excited and invested in it, it’s more likely other people will get on board. And if they don’t? Keep going. Failure is part of learning, growing and realizing a vision."
More about Heli: @helikennedy
Learn more about Sheridan’s Advanced Television and Film program
By Andrew Dmytrasz, Public Relations - Corporate Communications, 2016