Profile: Freshman Jess Cornelius

By Nick Beckman/Photos by Tim Kassiotis

Dancing around a muddy puddle next to the fenced-off Michaels Brothers’ house, Jess Cornelius noticed her brand new Doc Martens. She showed brief hesitation before crossing the muddy path. I felt guilty for taking this strange and, sometimes-creepy walk around the backside of campus, but Jess was undeterred by a little mud. “I only got these a few days ago…and I’ve already had to wash them, so no worries.”

Jess is a second semester freshman here at SFUAD, in the Moving Image Arts department. Her short hair, tinted blue and gold, is only a slight indication to her focus within the school, special FX and make-up.

Revealed underneath her right sleeve, she showed me a scar she had gotten cheerleading in 7th grade. “My bone was sticking out of my arm…there was blood everywhere! Some of the girls started to scream and the coaches were freaking out!”

At this point, I had to stop and get a closer look. The scar had run from the top of her wrist, down to the beginning of her elbow. More fascinating than the scar itself was Jess’s comfort talking about it. “Have you seen my scar?” she asked with wide-eyed anticipation that my jaw might hit the concrete upon first glance.

To my surprise, this was not her inspiration for wanting to do special effects make-up. In fact, it is quite the opposite. “I don’t want to do gore or horror stuff. I like fantasy.” Her favorite film that have utilized special fx/ make-up are the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Edward Scissorhands.

“Cinematography wise,” she says, “ I’d have to go with Wes Anderson’s style, like in Moonrise Kingdom. The shots are brilliant.”

Since starting last fall, Jess has helped out on student short films and wrote, directed and edited her own short film.

The short followed the story of a young man, reminiscing in an old abandoned cabin he knew as a child. Upon watching, you are flooded with memories of childhood and the disgusting act of getting older. “ A lot of the time a good film will piss me off because of the ending,” she explains, “but I’ve realized that’s a good thing because I’ll remember those films and still be thinking about them the next day. So my short film kind of connects with that idea I’ve realized. Majority of the people that have seen my short film come to me with questions about what it meant or whether I meant to do this or that. And I did. I meant to leave it open for interpretation.”

Jess is just another film student, in the same sense that we are all just another piece of the puzzle, but her unique outlook on others and care-free attitude about their opinions of her work makes her truly remarkable. In five years, she says she wants to move to Ontario, CA to attend school at a specialized university for special effects and make-up. In ten years, she is unsure. “Hopefully somewhere in that field…but who knows. That’s a long time away.”