Interview – Writer/Director/Producer Annika Hylmö, Ph.D

I am very fortunate to be in a writing group with Dr. Hylmö, and have the enormous benefit of her insights into script, story structure and character development. An independent producer of narrative films and documentaries, including the TCM production Image Makers: The Adventures of America’s Pioneer Cinematographers (2019), she is currently one of the busy producers of the Women in Media CAMERAderie initiative. She is on the staff at AFI, and continues to help shepherd films and filmmakers to awards and critical successes. Here’s her website.

Her own latest project is Dr. Penelope – a sweet film about a very unusual therapist.

Here’s the interview.

What was your first ever job in the film business, and how did you come by it?
First ever, if you count consulting, was as an external corporate trainer to Disney. I got it through my business partner who had a contact there.

What was your second job?
Beyond the corporate consulting mix, my job at AFI as Director of Assessments. I reviewed the curriculum at the Conservatory and tallied data (surveys, applications, employment, etc). I got that job by applying and sending them some of my academic research on films. Interviewing with the faculty was easy – they were my people.

What is the best piece of advice you were given? 
It’s a marathon not a sprint.
Oh, and Tom Rickman telling me to listen to him. He was right.

What is the worst piece of advice?
You’re not going to make it, look for something else to do.

What advice would you give to someone today wanting to enter the business and work in your job title? 
Here are some that I seem to repeat 🙂
You have to love this work to do it and be prepared for a life that does not look like other careers. That can make it hard for people who are not in this business to understand and you have to be prepared for that.
Make sure that you can pay your bills and that you take care of your mental health.
Know your audience and write for the screen.
Perfect your script, make shorts, find your tribe/collaborators, and review what you learned in the process.