Celene Mitchell is already forging her own path to a successful career in film
As a fan of both movies and theatre growing up, it felt natural for student Celene Mitchell to pursue acting when she came to BYU. Her perspective shifted while taking a dramatic performance class (TMA 201). “It was a huge game-changer for me,” Mitchell said. “It never occurred to me I could have a career in film until I took that class. I genuinely felt like I was spiritually guided each class period to shift my focus to film.”
Mitchell, who is preparing to graduate this December with a degree in media arts studies, has already gained crucial experience in her field by working on two major Hollywood productions right here in Utah.
Her first television job was for season three of the Disney show “Andi Mack.” It all began in fall 2018 when she met BYU theatre alum Ashley Cook at a baby shower. “I told her I was planning on working in film full-time, and she called me the next day to let me know about the job,” Mitchell said. “Through that job I’ve made dozens of connections that have supported me and kept me working.”
Once filming was complete, the entire crew of “Andi Mack” was reassigned to work on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (HSMTMTS). Mitchell filled the role of art production assistant, where her responsibilities included tracking budgets and expenditures, set decoration, greens, graphics and props. She also handled time cards, calendars, script breakdowns and department communication. “I support the art department and take as much logistical work off their plate as I can,” she said.
After season one of HSMTMTS, Mitchell received her first solo gig as art coordinator for the BYUtv talk show “Family Rules.” Though she was out of work for a few months in the spring due to the COVID pandemic, she started getting calls again in July, when she was hired as an art coordinator on a commercial for CVS and then for two Hallmark films.
“My favorite projects to work on have been ‘Andi Mack’ and ‘HSMTMTS,’” Mitchell said. “Long-form content is nice because you’re working with the same people for months, not weeks. It allows you to form stronger connections. I’m in a fortunate position. I’m working with a crew in Salt Lake that has worked together forever, so I’m very comfortable in the sustainability of my film career in Utah.”
In time, Mitchell hopes to become a producer after gaining the necessary skills and experience. “I’ve learned so much from my experiences,” she said. “I knew a lot of basics from the media arts studies program, which was fantastic. But there’s a lot more in a full production. The biggest thing I’ve learned is if you’re a hard worker and take care of people, you’ll land with people who will take care of you. There are a lot more opportunities in Utah for students than I thought — I would love to see a club that connects BYU students to working alumni in our own state.”
For now, Mitchell plans to continue working in Utah, though she is always looking for opportunities in other locations as well. “Whether or not I remain here, I hope to help build a stronger film community in Utah,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the future will bring.”