Music defined Lizzie Chaplin’s (’17) childhood. She played piano, participated in school band, listened to film scores, and dreamed of writing like Hans Zimmer. She was going to music school. That was always the plan—until it wasn’t. In her senior year of high school, Chaplin rejected the solitary nature of a music career. She looked for a new dream among her other interests.
Chaplin started her studies at Liberty University with a foot in two fields. She continued music by participating in marching band and wind symphony. She embraced film by declaring a major in cinematic arts. One course, Introduction to Screenwriting, made her decision clear. “That was the first time I’d ever shown my [writing] to anybody other than a couple of close friends, which was scary but helpful in a big way. I really enjoyed that class, and it definitely reinforced the idea that I wanted to do [filmmaking].” Her new pursuit seemed to be screenwriting, but the course revealed a deeper passion she did not yet recognize.
Continuing in the film program, Chaplin learned how to create art with classmates in small cycle projects. When she first took on a producing role, she discovered a knack for logistics: planning details and solving problems that allowed members to work together and maximize their creative efforts. That’s when she realized her true interest, one that had followed her through band into film: communal creativity.
Chaplin explored her natural talent by helping the department’s movie, Extraordinary, first as an Assistant Production Office Coordinator and later as a 2nd 2nd Assistant Director. She also volunteered for classmates’ thesis film projects, serving as Producer or Assistant Director. With each role, she learned more about leadership and the importance of good planning and problem solving.
Two weeks after graduation in 2017, Chaplin moved to Los Angeles and fulfilled two unpaid internships while working in the food business. Her first professional job came as Production Coordinator for a couple of music videos. She also took “day play” jobs where she could, filling in for absent crew members on various productions.
In 2018, Arielle Bielicki, a professional she had met on Extraordinary, recommended Chaplin into the position of Production Assistant on the Universal Kids channel show, Top Chef Jr. Soon Chaplin moved up to Associate Production Office Coordinator, overseeing as many as 60 people on a given day. Since then, she has worked on several films as well as reality shows, where she started as Production Coordinator and moved on to Associate Producer. On cooking shows, she especially enjoyed working in the Challenge Department which develops cooking challenge concepts and rules and then prepares crew departments to support them.
Chaplin appreciates reality TV for its unpredictable stories which has refined her skill in adaptability. She has learned not to adhere strictly to expectations but to remain flexible and still deliver quality results, even in high-pressure situations. This has made Chaplin valuable on set. “So much of it is problem solving,” she explains. In everything from coordinating to producing, things go wrong, and workarounds must be identified. “I find creativity in those situations.”
Today, Chaplin thrives in jobs that develop concepts, plan logistics, and manage people toward goals. By letting go of career plans for music scoring and screenwriting, she has discovered communal creativity. While less visible to audiences, Chaplin’s creativity impacts an entire production, inspiring craftsmanship greater than individual effort can achieve.