We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Sell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
This question is both complicated and fascinating for me to think upon as I sincerely believe that no pursuit was really made aside from simply listening to my heart and knowing from my earliest moments that this would be my destiny. From as early on as four years old, I knew that I would become a Filmmaker and there would be no other future. This cinematic destiny would eventually arrive and unfold due to my undying passion for the medium. In elementary school, I began making movies with my childhood friends in my parents backyard and honestly, it seems like those experiences just kept progressing from one stage to the next in regards to cinematic growth and development. Now, at 36, I see all those past stages as wondrous moments to a long creative journey. I have never had a moment where I felt that all of a sudden, I would finally “become a Filmmaker” because it was my life the entire time. What I find beautiful about this creative path is the freedom that arrives with it, and though it was, is and will always be riddled with hardships, it is the life I always hoped for – one filled with inspiration, amazing people, travel and the continuous expansion of the soul. I’ve always been open in allowing my journey to be directed by my creative spirit, and because of this allowance, have been incredibly blessed by a countless amount of incredible experiences. I feel so fortunate to be driven by such passion for the medium of film and feel so completely enriched by it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Filmmaking has been my life for as long as I can remember. By making films, I have viewed my life unfold through the lens of my camera and while the early stage of this journey was filled with terrible hardships, filmmaking always guided me safely down my path. When I left film school after only my first semester, I did so wanting to hit the ground running. I am not a good classroom student, instead, I perceive life experiences as my teacher. So when I began traveling the country with my camera making documentaries at 19, it was better than any formal education I could have received. The hardships that arrived however, were harsh. My Father was about to lose his life due to an aggressive form of cancer just a few years after I left on my cinematic journey. I arrived back home to see him through his final days with the rest of my family. He asked me if I would be interested in doing a short documentary on his experience, which was a heavy idea for a 21 year old to think about. I reluctantly agreed and saw the final moments of my Father’s life through the lens of my camera. Just months prior, I had documented the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast and had grown a somewhat tough skin merely by these experiences. By the time I made it to 24, I had traveled throughout the entire country, overseas and lived an extremely fast life as a DIY Filmmaker. Yet, with those experiences comes burn-out. I had hit a wall and what was most terrifying was that my passion for film was seeming to dwindle. My cinematic passion was what got me through even the harshest of times, so to feel like I was losing it, was nothing short of devastating. I took a step back, and had to really analyze where I was heading on my journey. I refused to give up but just needed to think on many things. I left my home in New York City and began to travel aimlessly overseas once again; from Loch Ness, to Germany, to Denmark, to Stockholm and eventually,I arrived here in Los Angeles filled with an entirely new jolt of cinematic passion that was even greater than ever before. In those years of traveling, I allowed myself to really open up to my true self, listen to what my heart was trying to tell me and even though those moments of awakening can be scary, I was filled with inspiration and enthusiasm. Traveling the world alone for me, is one of the most profound experiences an individual can have. By the time I reached LA, I was beyond prolific in creating new works that dealt with mystical topics and many other esoteric and metaphysical ideas. I re-discovered my love for Documentary Filmmaking in a way like never before, understanding the genre to be the perfect way to unlock the poetic truths of our human experience and not only educate the public on amazing topics, but continue my mystical education as well. Film has always been a part of my soul; it is an important facet to my own human experience and it is impossible for me to separate my life with my work. In realizing this, I now aim and strive to create films that, made with only positive intention, I hope will inspire, comfort, educate and even enlighten the viewer to new possibilities, ideas and ignite true creative passion. Where I was before too where I am now is a story that has many different stages, but who’s story doesn’t? I can only hope that my work will be of benefit to others in the most positive, loving and inspirational way. This is what my purpose now is.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A majority of the time would be spent outdoors I’m sure. From the beach, to hiking up in the mountains, nature is always the most important.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s no secret that the life of an Artist can be tough at times. So I feel absolutely blessed and grateful to have such a wonderfully supportive and loving Family to help me get through those rough patches as well as show their incredible support in all of my cinematic endeavors. Additionally, I feel so deeply honored to have an amazing friendship with the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles which I discovered at exactly the right moment in time on my path. The continuous support they have given me has allowed me to progress in my creative endeavors at lightning speed in the most positive and inspirational manner. Though I have been interested in the teachings and writings of PRS founder Manly P. Hall since I was a teen, the continued growth of knowledge I receive from his books and lectures remains a massive part of my life. The support, love and positive encouragement from my friends and family is the driving force to my success.