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Art & Life with Alissa Rooney

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alissa Rooney.

Alissa, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was in middle school when I first discovered my passion for photography. My mother was raising me as a single parent, and I was trying to figure out what I liked to do and where I fit in. I ended up picking up my mom’s point and shoot Nikon Coolpix camera that we used when we traveled. I went outside and began taking pictures of the flowers around my neighborhood. I remember taking one photo of a flower with a dewdrop on it with shallow depth of field, and I thought I had taken the coolest photo in the entire world. I thought I was National Geographic. Looking back on the photos now, they were awful, but my innate sense for light and composition are recognizable in those early images. This sparked my love for photography. It did not come out of nowhere; however, my dad had always had a fascination with photography, my grandfather was a cinematographer during WWII, and my grandmother was a painter, so I guess you could say that artistry runs in the family. I took darkroom photography for two years in high school and for one year in college. This is where I learned a lot of the foundational components and history of photography. There was a point in high school when my mom became very interested in exploring the city that she had grown up in, so we went and toured the different studios like Paramount and Warner Bros along with going to show tapings at CBS studios when my uncle worked there. Seeing the crew work on projects they were passionate about creating a slight interest in filmmaking for me. When it came to applying for colleges in junior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to do something either with photography or film, even though I had never taken filmmaking seriously before. In my senior year of high school, I shot and edited my first complete music video on my iPhone 4 and used iMovie to cut it together. All of my family raved about how well I did (it’s not good at all). Having people appreciate my work gave me a desire to create more. I got into Biola University’s Cinema and Media Arts program for the fall of 2015 knowing absolutely nothing about filmmaking, but I had a passion for my art, and that was all that mattered. I went from not knowing what a cinematographer was to being the Director of Photography on a $12k budget short film that we got to make up in the mountains with over 70 people in the beginning of my junior year. I would have never considered myself a leader when I first entered college, but once I shot my first project as a Cinematographer late into my sophomore year, I fell in love with visual storytelling. I will always have a soft spot for photography in my heart, as it led me to my love for cinematography. Becoming a Director of Photography has prepared me for life in ways that I could never imagine. It has taught me leadership, kindness, how to be calm under the most extreme pressure, and how to be a better person. God gave me a passion for Cinematography that I never knew existed until about three years ago. No matter where I end up in my career, I am content knowing that I have gotten the opportunity to do what I love and serve Christ at the same time.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a Director of Photography. I compose, choreograph, and light images for music videos, narrative films, and commercial projects. Nothing in life gives me as much satisfaction and joy as does lighting and composing frames with a team of people for a compelling story that drives us. It’s an addiction that is misunderstood by anyone who has not experienced its high.

Cinema is one of the most collaborative art forms. It takes a massive team to make a film look good and have an emotional impact on an audience. I love being able to make the decisions that shape the visual style/mood of an entire film or commercial piece.

Cinematography has prepared me for even larger opportunities outside of the world of film and I am forever grateful.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I guess this question is a little hard for me to answer as I am somewhat new to the art world and don’t really know how it worked in the past. I don’t have much of an opinion on whether conditions today are harder. I would say that social media has both helped and hurt artists in today’s society. It has damaged the sanctity of art. We can post and view art whenever we want, and it is constantly in our faces, so when we see something special or something that someone worked very hard on, we pass over it as if it is of zero value because we are constantly bombarded with art in our faces all of the time. On the other hand, social media has given a platform to the independent artists who do not have the opportunity to showcase their art in any other way, whether it be because of money or status, etc. In the filmmaking world, I believe social media has been of great service to connecting filmmakers together and giving us a community to share and critique art together. I have gotten offered far too many projects through social media from people that I don’t even know and would now consider good friends. It has united us in ways that were never possible prior to the internet and social media.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My photography and cinematography can be seen on my website and on Vimeo. I also stay pretty up to date on my Instagram. People can support me and my filmmaking endeavors by recommending me for projects or just keeping up with my journey through the entertainment industry on social media.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

2 Panavision Photos: Deanne Cortes

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