Internship Changes North Farmington Grad's Career Path

Kelly Brickner works as a freelance film editor in New York and Portland.

As a student at , Kelly Brickner never imagined she could make a living editing film. But that's exactly what the 29-year-old New York, NY resident is doing.

It's a long way from the stop-action videos she made with her sister Shawn, as the two were growing up in Farmington Hills.

"I was in the (North Farmington) TV-10 program," Brickner said in a phone interview while she walked to – of all things – a trapeze class. "In my senior year, I took independent study with Mr. Cobb."

Teacher Dean Cobb, , told Brickner she could make a living in film, especially since there aren't enough women in the field. Inspired by the experience, she went on to the University of Michigan's film program.

During college, Brickner earned an internship at MTV, a popular music video network based in New York. As soon as she started living and working in the city, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

"It opened my eyes to the possibility that this could really be a career," the 1999 North Farmington graduate said.

While at MTV, she was able to create a 15-second station identification promo, which played nationally.

"As a college student, I had something I had written and directed and edited on MTV2," she said. "How many college students have an opportunity like that?"

Her first "real job" was with Crew Cuts, a New York editing house. She hired on as a receptionist, but was soon promoted to assistant editor, which she described as more of a "technical" job.

"You learn a lot," she said. "I think it's important for anyone who's interested in editing to be an assistant editor ... it helps you learn how to interact with clients, how to do sound design and find the right music. You learn different tricks that different editors have."

A year and a half ago, Brickner struck out on her own. Her freelance career has taken her from editing commercial parodies on Saturday Night Live, to working on the infamous Eminem Chrysler commercial, which aired during this year's Super Bowl. As a freelancer with Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Brickner's job was to edit the two-minute version down to the shorter commercials that are airing now.

She got that job, because she happened to be in Portland editing a Target commercial for the Grammy Awards. Those kinds of connections have kept Brickner working steadily since she moved out on her own.

The hours are long, and freelancing means having to be very self-motivated, Brickner said. The editing business is very competitive, she added, "but I thrive on that."

"This is my career, and I really love it," she said. "I feel really blessed because a lot of my friends who are approaching 30 are still confused (about their careers). I've known what I wanted to do and set my goals, and I'm enjoying my career."

The daughter of Farmington Hills city council member Barry Brickner and his wife, Cheryl, Kelly Brickner visits Michigan just a few times a year. But she does stay connected with her North Farmington classmates. "I'm grateful to have met so many brilliant people in high school, and to still be in touch with them."

And the trapeze class?

"It's great exercise," she said.


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