“Film is my focus because as a person of color and a woman with family members who have disabilities or are in foster care- I’ve witnessed the journeys of people who are not shown in media and I can see my own people wanting that representation.”
Film Industry Trailblazer
BUILD Alumni, Elizabeth Tril, has met Academy Award winners, been nominated for film festival awards, and produced short films for top brands, like Red Bull. She grew up in Oakland, CA and describes herself as a behind the scenes person who never really enjoyed being the center of attention or the most vocal person in the room.
That changed during her time in BUILD as the CFO of Bomb Lips, a line of organic, homemade, gender-neutral, vegan bath bombs She transformed from being someone who would always try to stand in the back during group presentations to a confident public speaker.
Liz integrated the tools she gained as a BUILD student at Envision Academy of Arts and Technology into foundational parts of her leadership style. During BUILD’s annual Gala in 2015, Liz recalled selling Balm Lips to Nick Woodman, the CEO of GoPro, and a former Raiders football player. Well, sort of, “I didn’t even realize it until we reviewed the receipts,” she said, because she was so focused on selling out the product she designed to excited customers. Her brush with fame as a high school student was only beginning to set the stage for the career she’d pursue.
BUILDing A Film Portfolio
Her focus on actively pursuing professional experience has landed her with jobs that many do not see until well beyond receiving post-secondary degrees. Liz learned critical technical skills like Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro and Photoshop mostly through hands-on experience in volunteer and professional roles as well as through online learning. She gained these habits from BUILD’s focus on experiential learning, professional development and goal-setting.
During her sophomore year of high school, Liz started pursuing work as an intern at YR Media, formally Youth Radio, supporting the development of short films and music videos. Virginia Duke is a BUILD staff member who Liz first shared her passion for film with. Virginia sent Liz multiple resources and introduced her to Camp Reel Stories, a summer program for high school students underrepresented in media to learn digital literacy and gain hands on experience with all aspects of film production. “Her senior year, she worked on multiple filmmaking projects—for class projects, afterschool clubs, and on her own,” says Virginia thinking back. “She started a side hustle as a photographer, taking senior headshots for her classmates. And she did all this while maintaining a high GPA and acting as one of the primary caregivers in her family, supporting them through significant health issues.”
CEO of Camp Reel Stories, Esther Pearl, who has worked on films like The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc., immediately noticed Liz’s serious passion for film. “Liz was such a strong leader and contributor to the beginner Reel Stories program that I asked if she’d be interested in auditing advanced programs. Liz was very professional working with industry experts, including two academy award winners.” Pearl even invited Liz to join Camp Reel as a founding member of their production company that has filmed projects for Bay Area organizations like Galileo Learning.
Experiential Learning Inspires Filmmaker
Setting her goals and actively taking steps towards them is Liz’s key to success. After spending 1 year at the University of California San Diego campus, she had to decide whether the rigorous theoretical curriculum aligned with her learning style. After being exposed to BUILD’s experiential learning curriculum, she realized that she valued hands-on experience more than theory, and transferred back to Oakland to attend Community College to pursue a B.A. in Film & Television while actively building her film portfolio. “I’m following academic and professional opportunities that’ll get me to where I want to be 5 years from now.”
Through BUILD, Liz learned the importance of articulating ideas, collaboration, and self-confidence, which she applies today in her role as a Project Associate at YR Media. Ultimately, for Liz, film is about uplifting diverse audiences – a value that is also a key part of BUILD’s mission.
“Film is my focus because as a person of color and a woman with family members who have disabilities or are in foster care- I’ve witnessed the journeys of people who are not shown in media and I can see my own people wanting that representation. Film gives me the opportunity to give a voice to people who don’t have the platform. My purpose is to give a voice to people who aren’t represented in media and provide their perspective.”
If you’d like to view Liz’s work, here are links to some of the projects she has worked on: