A typical day in the life of Jess Element certainly isn’t your usual. When the likes of Jason Momoa is strolling through your ‘office’ or you’re working on the latest Netflix series set, you know you’re onto something pretty special. Jess works as a scenic carpenter in the film industry, a job which is full of challenge, diversity and of course, a whole lot of fun.
Jess originally had her start in the construction industry as an architect technician when she was studying building design. By 19 she had landed a position as assistant project manager, a stressful, underpaid role, where she found herself managing dozens of subcontractors. Enough was enough. With $160 in her pocket, she caught a bus 5000km’s across Canada, eventually arriving in BC. She spent her first year in BC working as a bartender, whilst finding her feet in a totally new city (that also meant moving 9 times!). It was during this time that she was offered a job building kitchens. Although she was a confident designer, she had no clue how to actually build. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she spent the next 9 months learning how to build kitchens.
As time went on, doors started opening for Jess in the construction industry. By chance, she ran into a group of film-industry-painters in a crowd, who turned out to be from the same town as her. They hit it off and encouraged her to get into the film industry, as there was plenty of work going. 5 days later she received an offer to begin working on the film sets. Lack of tools of real-world experience didn’t deter her. Borrowing $400 she headed to the local hardware store, picked up a hammer and nails and above all, hoped for the best.
Since then, she has become the master of learning as she went. She’s built theatre flats, stunt chairs, and even a spaceship! For the past five years Jess has been living out her dream, learning a tonne along the way and perfecting her craft in a seriously awesome environment. Jess says that the atmosphere of working in the film industry is electric “I’m always dancing and singing on the job. It’s my happy place!”
For anyone who is interested in becoming a scenic carpenter like Jess, she advises that whilst the work is awesome, contracts are often temporary so be prepared to be laid off often. You need alot of grit and self-confidence to make it in this industry, but it’s incredibly rewarding when you do. Check out Craigslist and once you get your foot in the door, works flows a lot more easily. You can check out her Instagram and reach out to her with any questions (she’s one of the friendliest, most bubbly people you’ll ever meet!).
Check out this awesome video below featuring Jess and her crew at work and make sure to connect with Jess and follow her exciting journey via her Instagram page!