“No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.” – Ingmar Bergman
Have you ever watched a film that took your breath away and tangoed with all of your senses? It blew your mind. It left you speechless; it left you in awe. There was something magical about it. Perhaps it was the plot, the direction, or the incantation of the script. Perhaps it was the phenomenal acting that evokes powerful emotions within you—emotions you didn’t realize you had.
That’s the power of filmmaking. And that’s the spell Elenore has always dreamed of casting upon her audience.
Born and raised in Ningbo, China, Elenore’s parents were successful entrepreneurs. Growing up in a culture where a child is encouraged and expected to follow the parents’ footsteps, Elenore did not hesitate to follow her heart.
She knew from an early age that the corporate world wasn’t cut out for her: instead, Elenore always cared about connecting with people and having empathy. She was interested in listening to people’s stories; their hardships, what made them the way they are today.
At the age of five, she started playing the piano and showed interest in things like art, photography, books, and music. Her parents gave her all the freedom to explore the creative side of the world.
Like every other parent who let their child explore, they thought little Elenore found her hobby, and a hobby is as much as art can be.
But before they knew it, or even before Elenore herself figured out, the journey of a young girl pursuing her dreams and venturing into the world had begun. She soon realized how sheltered and sometimes even misleading her life in a second-tier city was.
It took her time to come out of the safe bubble her parents had built around her, and having any of her immediate family in the filmmaking industry left her clueless.
Elenore’s struggles began. From making the tiniest mistakes that cost her a lot, to taking huge risks that benefited her. The more she started to get involved, the more she felt that there is no end to the possibilities.
Deep in her heart, Elenore knew she is not a quitter. In fact, being in a competitive environment enticed her to work harder, learn more and kick back. She made basic mistakes and fell a thousand times, but only came back stronger and learned from her failures.
For those of you who have struggled to overcome hurdles and keep the fire within them ignited, you probably understand what Elenore went through. She needed a push; a gentle nudge to remind her of her capabilities, her talents, and why she started her filmmaking journey in the first place.
Attending a highly selective summer high school program at NYU Tisch was a turning point for her. Elenore was in the same classroom as some famous directors’ and producers’ children, and it would be a lie to say that she was not intimidated or insecure. She thought they were all better than her.
But she did not let uncertainty stop her. As time passed, she earned the respect of her peers and teachers, with her interesting ideas and work ethics. This challenging but rewarding experience helped boost her confidence significantly, and she started to entertain the idea of pursuing filmmaking as a profession, not merely as an interest.
In 2015, before she went to college, Elenore got an opportunity to intern as a production assistant for the production of a TV series, directed by Zheng Xiaolong and based on Jiang Shengnan’s eponymous historical novel, “The Legend of Mi Yue.”
It proved to be a huge success in China, and working on set for a production at such scale was Elenore’s first exposure to national television.
From 2015–2019, Elenore attended the Northwestern University. During her time there, she studied everything about film production, English literature, and art history. Her college life was not entirely a linear journey – she struggled with balancing the coursework, working on student productions, and maintaining the extra-curricular social life she had.
There was even a time when she started doubting whether filmmaking is the right path for her.
With the constant pressure from all ends, she started losing hope and courage but it wasn’t long before she got up back on her feet.
Elenore constantly reminded herself, ‘she didn’t come this far for nothing.’ Her consistent self-evaluation, and courage to explore and experiment, conversely pulled her even closer to the cinema than she was before. It wasn’t soon before Elenore realized that this is the only thing she wanted to do in life.
A girl from a second-tier city in China travels to America for world cinema education, all for her passion for the art of storytelling. It takes courage, perseverance, and the willingness to take great risks. People often let go of their dreams because they are unwilling to take the risks that comes with it, but this was not the case with Elenore Pan.
After getting a taste of the filmmaking culture on both coasts of the Pacific Ocean, Elenore became growingly interested in European films, particularly Slavic and Scandinavian. She wanted to experience for herself and see how things are done in the birth continent of cinema.
In 2017, she attended a film production program in Prague for five months. Needless to say, the program made her fall in love with the sight of filmmaking practices in different countries and cultures even more. It opened up a new world for her—a world she was eager to explore on her own.
For a change of scenes, Elenore worked for a Times-Cover winning British photo-journalist, Jonathan Taylor, in the tropical city of Bangkok in 2018, and later attended a highly prestigious directing workshop at NFTS that selects only eight students globally each year.
Elenore believes from her personal experience that the beauty of films transcends nationality, language and culture, and she made sure to not leave any stone unturned in her journey of pursuing her dreams and passion. Her goal is right in front of her, and she is determined not to let anything dissuade her.
In such a competitive, vast, and ever-changing industry, Elenore did not let fear stop her. Her dedication, passion, and enthusiasm to learn new things are how she carved her name in the filmmaking industry today. She continues to learn and grow, and hopes to pave the way for young, aspiring filmmakers like her.
To learn more about Elenore Pan, please check https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8103069/