Kellie Hodson can’t believe she’s traveling the world.
While her friends rested in the hostel after an overnight bus ride to Prague, Hodson was exuberant and ready to leap into a long-distance interview about her next adventure: the Cannes Film Festival.
The Ithaca College junior is currently spending her spring semester abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. Hodson, a devoted French student for the past seven years, was determined to spend time in college in the country whose language she loves—despite the challenge of balancing the program with her double-concentrated major: film, photography, and visual arts. As she does back at school, the Robbinsville native keeps her Canon in hand to document her travels, alongside a travel journal, and an open sense of exploring.
“I would equally just as love to be either photographer or film producer or production manager for a TV show,” Hodson said of post-college career possibilities. “So, I’m actively pursuing both. I photograph things to practice my craft when I’m not in class and also keep a hand in a film or television set on campus.”
Hodson’s interests in photography and film sprouted well before college and by the time she was a freshman at Ithaca, she knew exactly where she was going.
“It wasn’t until I got there and finished my first semester that I realized, ‘Wow this is the place for me.’ I couldn’t be anywhere else. I felt so fortunate to have found my niche,” Hodson said.
Robbinsville High School did not offer courses in Hodson’s areas of interest. However, it did have a yearbook club headed by the school’s Director of Technology Michael Bruno. After seeing Hodson’s enthusiasm for documenting everything from school news to sporting events with a camera, Bruno took Hodson under his wing like, as Hodson put it, “a guardian angel.” He mentored her in taking photographs, going to yearbook conferences, and coached her in other important aspects of the field.
“Working with Kellie was a great experience,” Bruno said. “She is hard working, thinks fast, and is not afraid to try or help others at any time.”
Hodson’s aptitude for thinking on her feet came into play during a project with a Madison Square Garden representative visiting the high school. While demonstrating interview techniques, the rep asked for a volunteer to conduct on-the-spot questioning. Hodson stepped up immediately and, according to Bruno, completed the process flawlessly.
“At that time, while I was talking with the MSG representative, he was extremely impressed with her skills, as I was as well,” Bruno said. “Soon after, I was contacted by the MSG representative in regards to offering Kellie a week-long internship opportunity with well-known New York sportscasters at their camp.”
The camp was run by Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle. Hodson was one of only six girls in the program of 40 teen boys and dove headfirst into the arena of sports broadcasting. Not only does she recall learning a variety of skills and making connections that remain fruitful for her today, the internship also led Hodson to Ithaca. A conversation with Beck about his alma mater led Hodson to look into the upstate New York college. She had never heard of it, but it ended up being just the place for her.
“Everything works out and happens for a reason,” Hodson said.
Yearbook Club, the MSG internship, and Ithaca are all parts of the whole that led Hodson to her present adventure.
She continued, “I constantly reflect on my life and what I would do if I knew I’d actually travel the world like I always wanted. I’m at a loss for words. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents.”
Hodson’s favorite part of traveling is engaging with those she meets along the way. Hodson loves hearing stories of how they learned English—at school, the Cartoon Network, work. She also takes every opportunity she can get to speak as much French as possible.
“Kellie was and is not afraid to interact with people. Not only does she interact with people she knows, but she also interacts with people she meets for the first time confidently. This will go a long way in her future,” Bruno said.
When Hodson’s study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence comes to a close May 14, she will take a 2-hour bus ride to one of her most exciting adventures yet. After completing a rigorous application process in December of last year, Hodson was admitted to the American Pavilion Cannes Film and Business Program. The program runs May 14-29 and grants students access to the festival, industry workshops, seminars, and networking while providing them with work through the Pavilion or the Marché du Film.
Festival jobs may be as simple as working at a café or ticket booth or as hands-on as working with production or press relations. Participants do not know where they will be assigned until they arrive, and Hodson remains optimistic she will land a gig filing video clips and photographing the festival. She is open to anything, however.
“Even if you’re serving coffee, you can make so many contacts and connections. It’s practice networking. So many of the industry heads—directors, producers, casting agents—they’ll come and sit down between screenings, and they know who the students are,” Hodson said.
Hodson looks forward most to meeting those behind the screen, not just the celebrities many college students would be thrilled to see. She is eager to discover people’s backgrounds, enjoy an atmosphere where everyone, like her, is so passionate about film, and screen some of this year’s most celebrated international works.
“I always clap at the end of a film. It’s so essential,” Hodson said. “The sentiment in it. I wish that wasn’t dying out… I will forever clap at the end of films.”