How Filmmaker Lina Plioplyte Turned a Creative Outlet Into a Career
The first thing you notice about Lina Plioplyte are her outfits; they’re creative and eye-catching, like animal-print blouses layered with plaid, magenta jumpsuits, and prints. So many prints. But while her style is obviously rad, the Lithuanian filmmaker is usually behind the camera, filming women and men with extraordinary stories to tell. This former NYLON video producer (we worked together there back in the day) is now a freelance filmmaker, making movies like the acclaimed Advanced Style documentary, fashion films for the likes of Aritzia, and music videos for JEFF the Brotherhood. Lina is proof that it is absolutely possible to take all of your passions and create a career—and a life!—of your own. And after a week like this one, her advice is exactly the pep talk we need.
What were you like as a teen?
I was a strange, dreamy kid. I dressed real weird (in a bad sense of the word...trying to find my own style, I suppose: PVC rain coats on a sunny day and such). I wrote poetry, but I really wanted to belong as well. I had a punk moment; I started drinking when I was 12, and smoked a pack a day with other "bad kids." This is growing up in Lithuania, where pot was considered a serious drug. So we smoked, drank, and hung out in deserted garages. I loved reading philosophy, listened to Offspring (what?!), and pondered the meaning of life. Oh, and I was a huge fanatic of telenovelas. That's right, those Latin American soap operas that you can see on TVs in Mexican restaurants. Then I straightened myself out and became an A student before finishing high school.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
I'd tell her to chill the hell out, because life only gets more and more exciting with age. I'd tell her to stop worrying about other people's opinions and gosh, I wish I'd embraced being alone much earlier in life! Being alone is the best thing ever; you can think and realize so many things in life, and that's where the creativity lives. Also, I'd tell her to embrace every passion and to follow the curiosity, no matter what—all of the hobbies and passions collide later in life into the most interesting careers.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
I always called myself a journalist. I felt close to that profession, and I liked people and their stories. But going to university in Lithuania and in Boulder, CO, didn't quite fill my needs for quirk and human interest. I didn't want to make dry news, but I was too scared to even consider the film business. At that time, I wouldn't dare to call myself an artist, much less a film director. In New York City, everything fell into place when I started interning with the NYLON video department. I learned to make stories about fashionable personalities and musicians who I adored. There, my passion for style and individuality, and my skills of filming and editing came together. From then on, the journey evolved organically—I took a leap to the unknown (thank Burning Man for that!) and started a freelance filmmaker career. I was filming and editing fashion films, making music videos for friends, and working on the Advanced Style movie. When it came out, it proved to me that I am a film director. Seeing how people reacted to the film and its heroines allowed me to find my mission in life. Now all I want to do is to make inspiring films about extraordinary characters!
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
Besides learning from many hobbies and friends, as well as getting inspired by other filmmakers, I think perseverance is important. Not taking things personally and delving into anything that seems curious are both good skills to start honing in on early. I'm still learning every day.
What advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
Interning is the best way to get into the industry you want to be in, so do it! And be passionate about it. Life gets more and more interesting with each decade, especially if you do what you love, so find that passion and see where it takes you.