Elizabeth Donius’ job as IFP/Chicago executive director is “endlessly interesting, challenging”

WHO SHE IS: As the effervescent executive director of IFP/Chicago since May 2004, leading the large, local independent film sector, connecting people and opportunities and offering on-going professional development.

The IFP holds educational workshops on all aspects of production, regularly screens regional and local indies, and provides an annual $100,000 in-kind Production Fund Grant.

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB: “IFP/Chicago is a nerve center of the filmmaking community, which makes me a conduit for putting filmmakers in contacts with others to further their projects.”

PROS: “My job is endlessly interesting and challenging. Just about every indie film project?small or big?touches this office in some way.”

CONS: Juggling new motherhood (baby Alice is six months old) with job duties and demands.

KEY TO SUCCESS: “I’m a person that says ?yes’ whenever someone presents a challenge. I approach those occasions from a positive, creative place.”

ON THE SIDE: Donius and film partner Amy Elliott are editing their feature doc, “World’s Largest,” about the biggest roadside phenomenons in more than 30 U.S. cities.

Shot in 35mm on a low-budget, it will be completed this summer after five years in the making. It includes such outrageous road side attractions as the world’s largest killer bee statue in Hidalgo, Texas. (See www.worldslargestdoc.com.)

BACKSTORY: Originally from Westchester County, New York, the self-proclaimed “theater geek” headed to New York City one year after earning her B.A. in English from the University of Chicago in 1994.

In NYC, she shot a 75-minute, 16mm feature called “Headless,” while working at HBO an executive assistant in marketing for one year.

She became a segment producer on “Split Screen,” with producers’ rep Jon Pierson that aired on Bravo and IFC. Several years as communications coordinator on PBS’ “POV” followed.

BIG BREAK: “I lucked out on this job when the IFP was looking for someone just as I’d moved back to Chicago. I can use all my talents on this job.”

WORDS OF WISDOM: “Keep working on your own projects. If you want to be a director, producer or whatever, start doing it now.”

HER ULTIMATE GOAL: “To see IFP/Chicago grow and my film, ?World’s Largest’ do well.”

A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Director Robert Townsend recently spoke to IFP members. “He is the champion of independent films. He inspired and energized the audience, and made me feel good about what we do at IFP.”

Elizabeth Donius can be reached at 312/235-0161, Email, edonius@ifp.org. See chi.ifp.org.