Reel Women: Kamelya Alexan, Filmmaker

Kamelya Alexan

Kamelya Alexan

Born in Tehran, Iran, Kamelya Alexan moved to Chicago when she was five-years-old, where she was raised.

Kamelya has worked on and completed over twenty-five projects including documentaries, shorts, music videos, and feature films such as The Dark Knight, Public Enemies, and The Express.

Her most recent film, Before the Fall, won Best Editing at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and is currently on a festival run throughout the United States.

As a VER Sales Support Executive, Kamelya spends her time finding new clients and pushing the “create extraordinary” theory.

Being the largest camera rental house in North America, VER supports everything from small independent work to successful Dick Wolf shows (Chicago P.D. and Chicago MED).

“What’s amazing about VER is the scale of shows we represent,” says Kamelya. “From the Super Bowl half time show to features and TV shows, we offer services that no one else does, like Enhanced Environment and Ncam — two technologically advanced ways of telling your story.”

When not working on film, Kamelya invests in real-estate, develops mobile applications, and is constantly looking for the next big business venture.



How did you get into the business? I began my entertainment career in music, writing three-dozen songs and began putting together a band. Eight of those songs were set to become singles for a well-known artist. Due to some unfortunate events I broke away from music and found my love for film. When I was 15-years-old I wrote my first feature length film and pitched it to a producer/director in Los Angeles who has remained my mentor for the past 19-years. Ever since that day I’ve worked on a wide variety of independent & industry projects including shorts, documentaries, commercials, music videos, and feature films.

I was given an amazing opportunity to work with one the best camera rental houses in the Midwest, Fletcher Camera. It was here that the Fletcher family (Tom, Sally, and Archie Fletcher) guided me through the ins-and-outs of the Chicago production community and how to run a successful business.

Currently I work at the Midwest’s largest camera rental house VER as the Sales and Marketing Executive.

What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? The obstacles I’ve experienced had to do with, not only my gender, but my ethnicity as well. As a female, Assyrian filmmaker, my career choice is very unique for my culture, so it took people time to adjust to my life choices. As a whole, my obstacles in film are nothing specifically related to my gender. I’ve experienced things that men and women have had trouble with, breaking into this industry and so far, I’m proud of where I’m heading.

Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? There really isn’t “one” thing that positively reminds me that I’m a woman. Every time I’m in a production meeting or converse with people I’ve worked with, I’m treated as an equal and a person that could do what any male filmmaker could also do. They know me and they know that when it comes down to it, I’m going to get it done, and get it done great. Equality is empowering for anyone and it’s something I feel is finally becoming more prominent in today’s society.

Work you are most proud of? I’m most proud of my short film Before the Fall, and always the next project. From concept to completion Before the Fall has been a 5-year journey that has fully paid off. Winning Best Editing at the 17th Beverly Hills Film Festival, being nominated for Best Narrative Short and Best Editing at the Widescreen Film & Music Video Festival, etc. My favorite project is always the next one. I try to take my work one at a time and treat each one with more love and care than the last.

How do you describe the most significant #metoo moment of your life? The unfortunate event that pushed me away from the music industry helped me realize the challenge of being a respectable female artist. When I was 16 my manager, at the time, informed me that 8-of my songs could easily become hit singles. I was young and obviously excited of this possibility. However, there was an unfortunate catch. As a 16-year-old I was put in a horrible situation that I had to get out of. That day I walked away from the music industry and never looked back. I wanted control of my work and I gained that control becoming a female filmmaker.

How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? In 2003, I had the pleasure of meeting Patty Jenkins (director of Wonder Woman) at an IFP screening of her film Monster. Her accomplishment on that film made me aware of how powerful women could be in this industry.

Since that time it’s been a slow, but satisfying incline of industry work by female filmmakers. With Kathryn Bigelow’s best Director Oscar win and Rachel Morrison’s cinematography nomination, I think we’re on the right track. There hasn’t been a better time to be woman than now and I’m so excited for the amazing possibilities the future will bring for women, minorities and independent filmmakers alike.

Trapped on an island what essentials must you have? My laptop and phone with a good internet/phone signal and my dogs. I always have to be on a need-to-know basis and be reachable!

If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? Hardship and success work hand-in-hand. Trust me, this will all pay off.

If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? Christopher Nolan, hands-down. Working on The Dark Knight for 4 ½ months was the best experience of my life. The way Nolan handles a film set is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s classy, organized, and careful about every single crew member working his set. He is a masterful filmmaker that has been an inspiration for every project I work on.

To see the up-to-date list of Reel Women, click here.