From the Court to the Movie Set

Lisa Normand finds a new career in the film industry.
Written by: 
Cameron Bowman
Lisa Normand
Lisa Normand ('02)

Lisa Normand ('02) used to spend countless hours practicing law. Now she works on award-winning TV shows and movies.

Normand was working at Dallas-based Haynes and Boone, LLP law firm in copyright and trademark when she pivoted from attorney to film producer. After overcoming the challenges of studying for bar exams and making her way in a new field as a first-time producer, she currently heads Dallas-based Camp Lucky's long-form division for feature films, often working with rising arthouse and independent studio A24, which made Everything Everywhere All At Once and Civil War. Normand creates content that has been featured at SXSW, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and theaters worldwide, and it all started with knowing how to network.

"One thing I always tell people looking to get into anything is request informational interviews. I cannot emphasize enough how much people like talking about themselves," Normand says. "It makes more sense to say, ‘I'm interested in what you're doing and would love 15 minutes of your time because I want to take this path.' You'll get so much farther with that conversation and that person will remember you so much better than if they just get an email with a resume saying, ‘If you have anything open, let me know.' That's how I learned about Camp Lucky and got this job after all."

Aligning Interests

Normand had planned to pursue a career in law since her first semester at UNT and went on to earn her law degree at Southern Methodist University. During her time at UNT, Normand thrived in multiple political science organizations like UNT's award-winning Model International Organization and Student Government Association.

As an attorney, she would settle disputes for established brands and tackle clearance for companies to use known intellectual property in their brands. Her law work often intersected with film and television studios and productions, which sparked an interest in the entertainment industry. After eight years of practicing law, Normand decided to quit and pursue a career that aligned with her new interests.

While working as director of operations for the Oak Cliff Film Festival, she met Tim Nagle, head of independent studio Camp Lucky, which was producing short films, features and commercials.

"I think it's important to look at those kinds of things as professional development events," Normand says. "You can't look at SXSW as a party. You have to look at it as if you're going to a professional conference and maintain a level of professionalism at things like that."

An Offer She Couldn't Refuse

Shortly after the film festival, Normand received an offer to join Camp Lucky as a producer, which she gladly accepted. Her first project was handling post-production work for the second season of Van Go, a reality show featuring Chewy Design Co. owner Brett Lewis as he renovates vans into small homes. It may have been overwhelming jumping on board such a project for the first time, but to Normand it was more of a learning experience. That experience had a major influence on her role as a producer, which Normand also sees as that of a creative storyteller.

"It's a bit like being a temperamental artist, which I say with a great deal of affection because I love my temperamental artists, but you can't always be that way if you're the producer," Normand says. "But you also can't be a producer who doesn't understand what's important about the creative aspects and what we're trying to achieve."

For Normand, it's important to keep the many respective projects operating within given time and budget constraints while staying true to the project's artistic direction, which is a delicate balancing act she's learned to refine in her new career -- a fitting skill to have developed considering the pursuit of balance is what brought her here in the first place.

"I was on the cusp of becoming a partner," Normand says. "Ultimately, I could tell that it wasn't my path and it was definitely a journey leaving my career and starting to work in film production, but I've enjoyed every step."

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