At the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Alexis Borchardt honed her skills through internships and hands-on experiences in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. After graduating with a film and new media degree, she’s had the chance to work on big-name films and TV shows, including “The Bad Batch” on Disney+. She’s currently an associate production manager at Lucasfilm.
University Communication and Marketing spoke with her about her work, how Nebraska prepared her for a career in the film industry and her advice for Huskers. This Q&A was also shared on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Medium page.
When did you become interested in film? What draws you to production specifically?
I’ve been interested in film my whole life. I love music and the imagery in film. When I was younger, I used to edit music videos with my favorite movies and shows to my favorite songs. I remember my parents explaining to me when I was 11 or 12 that people do that for film and piece the film together like I was doing with my small little videos. I never really had a desire for acting or filming, but the editing process was really fun.
When I got into UNL, I originally thought I was going to be an editor for movies but luckily the film program gives you the opportunity to explore lots of different roles. I was one of the most organized students in my class so I ended up doing a lot of the producing of the films and found out that I really enjoyed that.
You said you recognized the value of your education at the Johnny Carson School when you were interning at the Cannes Film Festival as an undergrad. Can you talk a little more about that?
When I got to the Cannes Film Festival, we were broken up into groups of students who would all kind of have the same schedule and after chatting with them, it seemed like I was one of the only students who actually got to work with their professors directly and use real industry equipment provided by the school.
A lot of them mentioned to me that because their schools were so big, they felt like their film classes weren’t giving them real-world experience. I felt really lucky that I was able to work with real equipment and tools that are industry-standard, and with professors who were still in the industry and had the connections to help us all experience it first-hand.
You were with Industrial Light and Magic for four years and worked on a range of films, from “Captain Marvel” to “A Quiet Place.” What was your favorite part of this experience?
I loved working at ILM because of the volume of films that we’d work on throughout the years. It was so amazing to work directly with such talented artists, some of whom had been there since the very beginning. It was really special to hear the stories of how they made “Jurassic Park” or the groundbreaking visuals in “Death Becomes Her.” It was a big community and I loved the variety each project provided.
When I worked on “Irishman,” I was lucky enough to get to go as a guest to the Oscars in 2020 and it was an amazing experience. Although “Irishman” didn’t win for Best Visual Effects, it was an unforgettable night. I also met my now fiancé when we worked at ILM together on “Transformers: The Last Knight,” so I owe that to ILM as well, haha!
Was there someone at Nebraska that had a big impact on you?
There are a lot of people from Nebraska who had a huge impact on me and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Some extra special shoutouts are all my professors at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, Sharon Teo, Rick Endacott and Steve Kolbe. Steve was actually who convinced me to even apply to ILM and his guidance throughout the years as my adviser got me through a lot of “what am I doing?” moments as I followed my passions of film and television.
Another amazing person that I met thanks to UNL was Erron Reynolds, who I will be eternally grateful for. He was my resident director when I was at Schramm Hall, and honestly one of the greatest people you’d ever meet. He was so supportive of me when I learned I was offered the job at ILM that started a short two weeks after graduation. When I packed up and moved to San Francisco, he was kind enough to keep up with me and check in on how I was doing until he tragically passed away a few years ago. Thanks to him, I met one of my best friends and fellow Schramm Hall RA Grace Brown, who continues to be my rock throughout the past 7-plus years.
You had internships and involvements during undergrad that allowed you to gain experience. What advice would you give to other students who are looking to get that hands-on experience or get a start on their career while in college?
My advice is to create all you can. Apply to the internships and opportunities that interest you and join in with your fellow classmates to work on projects that you’re passionate about (even outside of classwork). The college years fly by so it’s important to absorb all you can from the people and professors who surround you.