Learn more about CAM Ambassador Kelly Spencer through this Q & A!
What brought you to CU Denver, and specifically the College of Arts and Media?
I was attending high school in Westminster during my senior year and decided that I wanted to stay in Colorado to attend college. Knowing that I wanted to go into film, I also looked at other film schools such as Colorado film school, but decided that the urban location would suit me the best. I am a person that relies on physical spaces for inspiration and I spent a lot of my childhood living in different states and cities, some of which inspired me and others that did not as much. At the time, Denver was one of those inspiring places.
Why did you want to become part of the CAM Ambassadors group? What do you think it will do for you and the school?
I think that it is a great opportunity to gain new experiences, network, and really see what is going on in the modern world of film. I think it will inspire me to continue my work in the film program and provide me some new insight into how I can go about that. Since I am a student at the school, I think this inspiration will help the school by advancing my work, and the work of the people I collaborate with that are willing to learn about this experience through my new knowledge.
What is your favorite part of being in the CAM program?
My little family of filmmakers. Since I have pretty much all the same classes with the same people, I have developed some strong relationships with other filmmakers that have really helped me to progress as a filmmaker. I think that is something that is so great about going to a film school, even though you might know how to make a film without attending film school, you can never get those four solid years of relationships with other students and faculty if you don’t go to film school.
What is your favorite location to go to in Denver?
This sounds weird, but there is this tiny one-person bathroom in a parking garage downtown that has writing all over the walls, and some of the stuff written in there is incredible. I went in there just to pee one time, and found it hilarious to think about all the other people who also went in there just to pee and had their lives changed by a bathroom.
What concentration do you find yourself leaning towards the most? Why? When did you get started?
I am most interested in writing. I have been writing since I was a young child. I remember my great-grandmother giving me a journal to write my thoughts in when I was little, and soon enough, I found myself writing more than actually speaking. I love to get lost in other worlds that I create through writing, and I think it is incredible that combinations of 26 letters can create so many different stories and meanings.
What helps you get inspired?
Experience. There hasn’t been one moment in my life where I have experienced something new or different or amazing or anything that I haven’t immediately sat down and wrote about. For me, experience doesn’t have to be big either, it can be small moments in life that can be connected to other small moments to create something bigger, some bigger meaning.
Do you have any rituals to get yourself motivated when you work?
I clean; I clean everything. I find that before I sit down to work on a big writing project or a project in general, I need to first organize the space in which I am working in. I prefer the chaos to be confined to my mind rather than the space around me. I also walk. I live close to downtown, and I tend to walk up and down Sixteenth Street a couple times before, or during, my writing process if I get stuck. Basically, I need to remind myself that the world around me is constantly changing, there will always be something new to see, or something new happening that can spark something in my writing or help me make that one connection I might be stuck on.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
This homeless man that lives on Sixteenth Street in Denver. On Thursdays, I get him lunch and we hang out together and I share my writing with him and he shares his thoughts with me. We have had some incredible conversations and his views about the world are more profound than anyone I have ever met in my life.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for your art? Do you regret it?
When I was a sophomore in high school, I wanted to write a script with characters that were based on my interpretation of strangers. I was really quiet and nobody at my school really knew who I was, so I decided to pick three random people and watch them closely. And by watch them closely I mean I became a total stalker. I followed them around school without being noticed and watched them from a distance and then I started to notice all their little quirks and weird things they did when nobody was watching and how they were different when people were watching. I basically stole their actions and wrote them into my interpretations of characters. Anyway, it’s kind of hard to explain but definitely pretty weird. And I don’t regret it.
Do you think anything can be art? Explain
Yes, I believe that art is a personal experience and anyone can give meaning to something that they see meaning in based on their personal experiences in the world. That’s why the girl in “American Beauty” thinks that that plastic bag floating in the wind is the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.
Where is the best place to see art, in your opinion?
Where you need to see it. Art has a funny way of being in the right place at the right time as long as you are open to it, at least that is the case for me.
What is your favorite movie/film that you’ve ever seen?
This is a very difficult question but I will go with “Big Fish” by Tim Burton.
If you had to create a new crayon, what color and name would it be and why?
Kelly Greener because Kelly green is already a color of crayon, but I feel that it could be more green. Also, it would be cool to have two crayons with my name in them.
What would you say to yourself five years ago?
Pick your battles and focus your energies. Since I can remember, I have been trying to change things that I don’t agree with in the world. I get very overwhelmed by the negative things that I see happening in the world around me and at times; especially 5 years ago, I was burning bridges and getting myself into trouble because I had no idea how to handle the negativity in the world and how deeply I cared about fixing them. I can think of one particular time when some coworkers were talking about attending a dog fight when they visited Mexico. I got so overwhelmed with anger about how cruel and disgusting dog fighting is and that nobody was listening that I kicked a trash can (which happened to be the only metal one in the whole restaurant so it was way louder than I expected it to be and it freaked out some customers, oops) and then I got fired. 5 years later, I have finally learned how to approach these situations in a way that is healthy for myself and allows me to express my passions for things in a more effective way—and that is through writing and filmmaking. I just wish I had learned this sooner than later, because I think if I had entered film school knowing how much film would be a good outlet for me, I would have made a lot more projects by now, but it just took me a while to get there.