Florence Heller is a New York based director, photographer, writer, and stage manager.
Florence was accepted to NYU Tisch School of the Arts early decision, where she studied directing for four years at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre studio. During her time at NYU, she was able to work with influential artists, such as Bob Moss, Michael Krass, Shaun Peknic, DJ Mendel, and Mary Robinson, to name a few. Being a person who has always excelled when juggling many projects at once, Florence spent her first summer in New York City working at five different internships: she worked an administrative internship at East River Commedia as well as at Leimay—The Cave, she worked as an assistant director, stage manager, assistant sound mixer, and PR for Dangerous Ground Productions, she worked as a 1st AD for a television pilot called “Group,” and finally as a 2nd AD on a short, SAG film called “Equity.” By the end of her second year at NYU, Florence began to take film courses over the summers. She was the first non-film major to be accepted to the NYU FAMU 35mm film program in Prague, which she attended in the fall of 2013. Florence graduated NYU Tisch with honors, a BFA in Theatre with a focus in Directing, and a minor in Film in May 2014.
Since graduating, Florence has been spending her time applying to graduate school while also collaborating with friends on theatre and film. She just finished filming a short film called “Table for One” as well as completing numerous short scripts and short film compilations. Her work can most recently be seen in the Metaphysics Element Productions fundraiser campaign as well as their webseries “Better Than We Are.”
It’s going to fly by, and in the blink of an eye, it will all be over.” How many times have we heard this statement? How many times have we sat in information sessions, orientations, meetings, or advice sessions and had the person on the other side of things look back and tell us eager newbies to hold on tight before it slips through our fingers? I doubt if I could count the times using all my fingers and toes. In fact, I am quite positive that if I had a dollar for every instance, then I would not be on the desperate search of ways to support my living in New York City. Nevertheless, no matter the amount of times we hear it, no matter who says it or when, no matter how creatively the message is delivered, it never fully sinks in. We sit back smugly and think: “no, it won’t,” or “it won’t happen to me,” or “I will cherish every moment.” And then, four years fly by, and suddenly, we are throwing our graduation caps up in the air hopelessly searching for the time that has blurred past our eyes and grasping for the experiences we wish we had as we intensely concentrate on the falling graduation cap, dreaming that if we catch this cap and grip it firmly in our hands, perhaps at least this small moment will fully soak in.
Here’s the rub: if no one stands up and tells you to enjoy it while you can, then you would never know; however, me standing up and politely reminding you that in deed these years will fly by has absolutely no merit. The advice will still fall on deaf ears, or rather, be heard and improperly executed. And so, I am going to do my best to provide a simple guide of ten tips that will hopefully lead you in the direction of holding on to the fleeting moments:
Tip 1: Work hard.
College is not one big party. It may seem as if it is, but if you treat as such, you are going to be spending many a day mismanaging a fantastic opportunity as you sit in a hungover haze attempting to piece together what happened yesterday. College is a time in order to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life. College is a time to build the building blocks of your career—a career that will hopefully want to make you wake up in the morning (by the way, just a quick note, if you do not want to wake up for classes, then perhaps you are in the wrong career—food for thought). College is a time to find your independence and to learn how to live without the support of mommy and daddy. Work hard. Find classes that challenge you and excite you. Find teachers that will push you to new heights. Chase your dreams. Dream big. Set the bar high and reach it.
Tip 2: Take breaks.
In order to completely contradict myself: do not work too hard. College is not going to define the rest of your life. There are decisions that you can make that will define the rest of your life; however, taking college too seriously will stifle your experience. I can promise you that if you only focus on grades and school work, then you will miss out on the majority of your college experience. Schedule times to not be working.
Tip 3: Don’t get wrapped up in the petty things.
This is not high school anymore, so leave the drama behind. Learn how to deal with people you might not want to deal with in order to find the right people. Surround yourself with positivity. Reevaluate what is really important in this world. The who’s kissing who and who has the highest grade and who got the role in the play, all this stuff just weighs you down—it blinds you from the real connections and experiences you could have.
Tip 4: Explore!
Allocate your time to experience everything. Go to museums. See movies. Take a trip to the zoo. Discover what your college town or city offers and experience it. Ask teachers or upper classman about a cool new restaurant or store. Do not spend your entire time searching for the cool new bar. You should search for that also, but there are other things to see and do. Find a park bench to call your own, or a coffee shop in which you always sit at the same table. Create a home for yourself and then explore outside those boundaries.
Tip 5: Do things for the stories.
There will be a time in your life where you can look back and say: “I did that.” Seize the opportunity to say such a thing. Even if the story seems out of your character, more of a reason to try it.
Tip 6: Make mistakes.
Your twenties are the time to make mistakes. It is the only way to grow and learn. So make mistakes…many of them! Just be sure to learn from them, rather than continue to repeat them.
Tip 7: Alleviate the pressure.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Pushing yourself is a good thing, but if you constantly strive to accomplish everything, then you will not be able to accomplish anything. Learn to not stretch yourself too thin. Learn when to say no. Balance is key.
Tip 8: Find your release.
Life can get stressful, so find your release. Perhaps it is the gym or yoga. Perhaps it is writing or painting. Perhaps it is watching television for an hour or reading a book. Try a couple and figure out which is best for you, and then schedule it into your life. Treat it like a class or a date, whatever you need to do in order to actually do it. It may feel unproductive when you have an insane amount of homework. Nevertheless, you will be able to accomplish more and at a better level if you schedule releases into your life. You should have some “you time” at least three times a week.
Tip 9: Stop worrying.
A wise person once told me “worrying is for your thirties.” Stay young. Enjoy college. Worry later.
Tip 10: These are not the best years of your life.
That is a lot of pressure to handle if it is. I would hope that the best years of your life are yet to come and that you do not spend the rest of your time missing the four short years of your late teens and early twenties. The expectation that you should be having the time of your life is unrealistic, and when you are not enjoying yourself, it leads to you wondering what’s wrong. Nothing is wrong with you. College is not always going to be amazing. It is also not the best years of your life, so don’t spend unnecessary energy and emotional capacity trying to make it as such.