My Story

From the forests of Pennsylvania.

To the California coast.


Raised in the small town of Wilcox, Pennsylvania, I was not surrounded by a strong artistic community, yet I found one at an early age. This discovery helped me become the artist that I am today. When I was two years old, my mother put me in dance class for the sole purpose of my grandmother watching me perform on stage. At the time, there was no telling how important that decision was to the rest of my life.  

At a young age, dance allowed me to find my love for entertainment. As my love for entertaining grew, I became involved with piano lessons, vocal training, and most importantly theatre. By elementary school, I would be a part of any show that was being performed in my area. My love for performing on stage was unparalleled. I adored telling stories and the arts allowed me to tell him. I was able to express myself through theatre and dance.

Well into my elementary school years, I began to get mocked and bullied for my love for dance and the arts. From children at school, I was different and that isolated me. No boy in my area took dance lessons or participated in theatre and I was tormented at school for it. Before I even knew my true sexuality, children at school would make fun of me for being gay. This was years before I came to the realization that I was gay. I used art as an outlet to express myself when I wasn’t allowed to at school. I focused most of my attention towards dance and theatre in an attempt to ignore the others at school.

The first time I experienced the art of filmmaking, I was in sixth grade and I found my parents’ old video tape recorder. My friend and I began to make short movies using the remaining VHS tapes that were inside. Immediately, I was drawn towards the medium and after my first interaction, I was unstoppable. Since then, I continued to make short films using my friends and family as actors. Growing up in the middle of the forest, I had no idea that film was a career option. I only believed it to be a fun hobby.

As I went into high school, I was more involved with theatre and dance. I was on a competitive dance team while simultaneously performing in shows. Film was something I would do on the side when I had free time. My junior year of high school, my school offered a digital arts class which I immediately signed up for. In the class, I was exposed to more structured filmmaking and I was obsessed. With the help of this class, I eventually made a dance video that led to me coming out to my parents. Film and dance helped me accept who I was and since then, I have only gotten more confident in myself.

By my junior year of high school, I believed I wanted to go to college for musical theatre. My junior summer, I went to Carnegie Mellon University for a Pre-College Program for musical theatre. While I was there, I realized that my true passion wasn’t theatre or dance, but my true desire was to pursue film. My revelation struck while I was on the phone with my mom, laying in the grass of Carnegie Mellon’s campus and telling her about the program and my love for film. Being exposed to the arts at Carnegie Mellon allowed me to see that film wasn’t just a hobby but an actual career option. While I still was passionate about theatre and dance, I knew that film was my true calling.

I eventually started school at Point Park University for cinema production. I spent two years studying film at Point Park, completely immersing myself in the art of filmmaking. After two years of studying film in Pittsburgh, I transferred to Chapman University for film production, where I currently attend college. At Chapman, I have been able to further explore my creative voice and collaborate with all different kinds of people. My life has been many winding roads leading me towards film and I can proudly say that I am following my passion. While film is my main pursuit, I continue to practice dance and theatre. I never forget where I began; from a small tap dancing boy in the forests of Pennsylvania to a film production major at one of the top schools in the nation for film production. My journey has been long, but it has been exciting, and I am eager to see what lies ahead.

-James Elinski