Julia Monahan (’14) on Breaking into the Film Industry

On a cool winter day outside Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, Julia Monahan (Comm, Film Studies ’14) arrives on the set of the forthcoming Apple TV show High Desert. As a Showrunner’s Assistant, she works tirelessly to support the writers by ensuring their stories and vision come alive on set. The job is a far cry from her 2014 start in the film and television industry writing and designing presentations for Nickelodeon. “It doesn’t matter where you start. If you do a good job people will ask, ‘What do you really want to do?’ because they know you don't want to carry boxes for the rest of your life.” Describing her current role as a “dream come true,” Julia is thrilled to have moved to the production side of the entertainment industry.

Julia entered the world of screenwriting as a Writer’s Assistant for the final season of Silicon Valley. “I took notes on every pitch the writers tossed around. Even though the work is exhausting and you're typing a mile a minute all day, I learned so much about what works and what doesn’t.” Julia credits much of her success to the Media Studies film concentration and Professor William Little who taught her how to analyze films and think about them as academic texts. “It’s really cool as a student to be able to understand what the director intended or why the shot is framed in a certain way. Discussions in film class may sound theoretical but when you work on a film set you realize these are tangible because it’s just a bunch of artists working together to tell a story.”  

Julia recently tried her hand at filmmaking, directing Before, a short film starring fellow UVA alum Emi Ellis (CLAS ’14), produced by Lauren Lukow and Chris Bauer (CLAS ’14), and written by Josh Bressler (Comm '13). To achieve this, she capitalized on the extensive network of UVA alumni living in LA. “I’m always amazed at how many more people from UVA are in the business than I realized. The alumni network [here] is very strong.” 

Link for Before: https://www.rudehorse.com/before

Julia’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monahanjulia/