Narrative filmmaker Sonja Kelly is a graduate of the production program at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. In 2013, her debut feature, a no-budget Shakespeare adaptation set in San Francisco, screened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, the Indie Gathering International Film Festival, and the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival. At IGIFF, LOVE: As You Like It won Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for Best Feature Film (Romantic Comedy).
In 2017, Sonja produced and directed a micro-budget proof-of-concept short film in San Francisco that screened at the Festival de Cannes: Court Métrage (Short Film Corner) and received an award for Best Rising Action Star (Female/Short) at a stunts film festival in Las Vegas as well as nominations for Best Action Short of the Year and Best Female Filmmaker.
Most recently, Sonja shot a no-budget short film by herself with one actor and one crew member. This experimental film which explores the psychological impact of sexual trauma was filmed during a six-hour shoot in the Mojave Desert, four days before lockdown began in Los Angeles.
Sonja began her career as a Saturday morning intern to film critic Jan Wahl at San Francisco's KRON 4 News. A few years later, she joined the production teams of the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors as a video production intern before working her way up to camera utility, assistant, and operator. Over several years, Sonja worked the commercial and sports circuit in the Bay Area as a camera utility and production assistant including jobs with Emmy award-winning cinematographer Scott Duncan. She worked these gigs while also working part-time as a violin teacher and carrying a full course-load as a video production student at College of Marin (before transferring to USC).
Sonja is proud to be the granddaughter of a farmer poet from rural Finland as well as a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. As a neurodivergent queer woman with a dense trauma history, she brings a wealth of life experience to her writing, and aims to tell cinematic stories that reflect her fluid and unconventional worldview. She has studied with Mardik Martin of Mean Streets, Dr. Rob Clare of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Evgeniy Lazarev of the Moscow Art Theatre, and others.