Alumni filmmaker Elisee Junior St. Preux discusses pursuing passions and taking risks

Former university student, now filmmaker, reflects on his career journey in the film industry.


Image via FilmFreeway Website

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

Elisee Junior St. Preux started directing short films with a mere kitchen light.

Now he’s written and directed several films, and he has made TV appearances and acted in commercials throughout his budding career in the film industry. 

The North Miami Beach native did not originally have his heart set on theatre. As a student, he originally studied music. 

“I didn’t start as a business major, I started as an architect major. I wanted to build buildings, like theme parks and stuff,” St. Preux said. “It was a little weird. I mainly did it for one semester, and quickly noticed it wasn’t my thing. I went straight into the College of Business. At that point, I was a business major with a minor in music.” 

In his last semester before graduation, St. Preux decided to change his minor in music to a minor in theatre at the behest of a friend.

“I was always interested in theatre, I just never acted on it. A good friend of mine, she was always into theatre. She was always doing it. But she wasn’t involved in the theatre department,” St. Preux said. “So she said, ‘You know what, you are always talking about it. You’re a little charismatic, you got to go ahead and audition for something.’”

After discovering his love for theatre, St. Preux began his unorthodox leap into the professional world of film and production.

“I borrowed my friend’s camera. I collaborated with some of the students that I met in theatre, and around the area, really learning by experience. The only thing I did was minor in theatre. I never went to film school or anything of that sort,” he said. “And then, I created a blog called the Movie Butter Playbook which is all about cinephile analysis, movie reviews, and challenges and trivia.” 

St. Preux explained that he was direct with his parents about his transition from a traditional career path to a creative one. 

“I didn’t make it really strategic or anything like that. I sat them down, my mom and my dad, at the dining room table. I just explained to them that a [traditional career] wasn’t what I really wanted to do. They knew I was doing a little bit of film here and there because I was content creating. I was scared because I didn’t know what they were going to say. But, I told them I’m moving to Atlanta, and this is what I want to do. Their response was: ‘What do you need from us?’” St. Preux said.

St. Preux said that his parents’ response shocked him; however, he structured his move to Atlanta, Georgia with their support.

“I moved here and started just hitting the ground running and collaborating and meeting people around. And I was just in every single networking environment, like, I literally did a get-up and go type of thing, when you get up to go and follow your dreams,” St. Preux said. 

St. Preux explained that he had no financial support when he took on the move to Atlanta and suggested that any students in the same situation should do their best to find creative solutions. 

“I came out here with no job. I do not suggest that. But if you have to, if you absolutely have to and you really want to, you can do it. You’ll find a way if you really want to find a way, even with no job, and find creative ways to make money. And as I did that, I started collaborating with people, like the collaboration is really what brought me to where I am today,” St. Preux said. 

During the start of his career journey, he created a screenwriting label, À La MODE Films, and immediately began to create and produce his own content. However, St. Preux noted that the real highlight of his career came recently when he was accepted into the Indeed Rising Voices Mentorship program. 

Indeed sponsored the Rising Voices mentorship program which aimed to amplify and uncover creative stories by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers across the US. 

In This Photo(left to right): Lena Waithe, Elisee Junior St. Preux, Rishi Rajani
Image Source: Theo Wargo/Getty Images North America

“It’s basically a development program and they have five studios under it, one of them being Lena Waithe’s company [Hillman Grad Production] from The Chi, Queen, and Slim, and more. We got to work with her. And we ended up premiering in the Tribeca Film Festival in New York,” he said.

St. Preux also said that the short film,  “Aurinko in Adagio,” he directed alongside Waithe was one of his favorites out of the 12 short films he’s created over the course of his career. 

Aurinko in Adagio (2021) Image via IMDb

“Aurinko means “the Sun” in Finnish and Adagio is a musical term that means slow, steady pace. And it’s special because I’ve marched in marching band in Miami. The symphonic band and jazz band, and I played the baritone, which is an instrument that a lot of people don’t know about. And I always said I wanted to write a movie about it,” St. Preux said.

He advised that students who are interested in potentially following a similar career path as he did should be brave when taking chances.

“So don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about the money, you don’t need money to make a film… I did my [third short film] with nothing. We used a kitchen light. Don’t worry about the money. Stay true to yourself and what you learn. And also remind yourself that you don’t need to be some hotshot to do anything,” St. Preux said.

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].