Alumni Spotlight: Penny Pauletich, Digital Video and Media Production

Student Filmmaker Success and Z-Fest Wins

In December 2018, Penny Pauletich graduated from IPR with a degree in Digital Video and Media Production. Even prior to graduation, Penny received great acclaim student filmmaker. In 2018, her film Three Categories or Less was named best student film at Z Fest. Even more impressive, she won Best Screenplay for the same short film, but in the professional category At the 2019 Z Fest, Penny’s short 20 Seconds came in fifth overall in the professional Best in Fest competition and she won Best Student Film for the second year running as well a s a nod for “Best Villain.”

IPR student filmmaker Penny Pauletich and fellow filmmaker Justen Jones at 2019 Z-Fest Awards
IPR student filmmaker Penny Pauletich and fellow filmmaker Justen Jones at 2019 Z-Fest Awards

Since she graduated, Penny has been working at IPR’s Edina Studios. During this time she has been busy at work on pre-production for a month long trip to Belize to shoot a documentary on manatee preservation with the non-profit Wildtracks.

We sat down with Penny to talk about her time at IPR and what is coming up next for her.

IPR: What made you decide to come to IPR?

PP: I was going to get my Bachelor’s degree at another college, but met Troy LaFaye, an instructor at IPR. After taking a tour and meeting Trey Wodele and Andy Hunt, I was convinced it would be beneficial for me to switch. And I’m glad I did.

IPR: What were some challenges you faced as a student? How did you overcome them?

PP: The hardest part about coming to IPR was being a transfer student. The last school I attended was more focused on watching movies and studying theory. IPR teaches how to make films and work hands-on. Transferring halfway through made it a bit difficult to adjust. My first quarter I was actually in a mid-program thesis class. I had to write, produce, and direct a short film without ever being on a set. The onlyreason I got through that was with the help of other students at IPR.

IPR: What were some of the best parts of your school experience?

PP: The best part about IPR has been all the connections I’ve made. I’ve had the opportunity to work on countless student film sets. I’ve also worked on five feature films (Brother’s Keeper, Dark Cloud, Only Dance Can Save Us, Summertime Dropouts, and The Soviet Sleep Experiment).  Through these projects, I’ve been privileged enough to meet stars like Laurence Fishburne and Chris Kattan. But more importantly, it’s allowed me to meet other filmmakers within the Twin Cities community that I plan to collaborate with in the future.

IPR: What were some of your favorite projects you created?

PP: My favorite project is going to be the one I am creating in the next couple months! Stay tuned. During my time here I’ve produced/directed five short films and a web series. They all have elements I like about them, but they all have things I wish to improve on. Three Categories or Less is the one my teachers like most. It’s a short film I made for Z-Fest last year and it did pretty well.

IPR: What’s next for you?

PP: I am travelling to Belize in May to make a documentary on rehabilitating monkeys and manatees. I’m also writing my first feature film! It may or may not leave my computer, but hey I’m writing it!

Written by: Maria Barr

BFA Student, Digital Video and Media Production