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The Award-Winning Filmmaker

News Story

Filmmaking runs in the family for Rachel Skopp-Cardillo ’20. She’s a third generation Pace student on the PLV Campus who just wrapped up working on PaceDocs’ Hope in the Dark last year.

If Rachel Skopp-Cardillo ’20 had an IMDb profile (and she should), her list of credits would be long. She’s a digital cinema and filmmaking major on the PLV Campus, former assistant director for PaceDocs, recent associate producer at Fusilli Films, and even an intern at PBS Kids, among many other roles. She’s also an event director and staff writer for Her Campus and attended the Women’s Convention on behalf of CCAR last year. This rising filmmaker is one busy student!

She was still in high school when she started interning for Linda Simensky, the senior director of programming at PBS Kids. “I thought it was interesting to see people creating and producing educational children’s shows [without] an education degree or background [in] working with children,” Skopp-Cardillo told us, explaining that many of the people she worked with had graduated with communications or film degrees. That unique experience inspired her current aspiration: to one day work in the same capacity—with a graduate degree in education to boot. “I hope to one day make children’s educational television programming for kids with learning differences like me.”

That was a huge factor when it came down to what college Skopp-Cardillo chose. “Out of all the universities I toured at, Pace didn’t make me feel like a number. They made me feel like I was a person and not just a statistic.” She met with the Office of Student Accessibility Services to make sure they could accommodate what she calls her superpowers. “I have learning differences like ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, auditory processing, and short-term memory processing.”

Eager to make her mark at Pace, she jumped in with both feet by taking Producing the Documentary, a class taught by Professor Maria Luskay, EdD. They traveled to Puerto Rico last year to document the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, an experience that left a lasting impact on Skopp-Cardillo. “The news wasn’t really paying attention to this topic,” she told us. “We reported a power outage in San Juan before NBC News sent out an alert. You constantly had to be on top of your game.” These were all lessons she said couldn’t be learned in the classroom, as unpredictable and ever-changing as they were.

Despite how challenging the job was, Skopp-Cardillo persevered. “For me, being the first assistant director meant sleeping was just a suggestion—but having ADHD helped me juggle and multitask my responsibilities.”

Filmmaking also runs in her family. Her mother, Lauren Cardillo ’80, is an award-winning filmmaker too. For the past five years, they’ve been working together on Learning to Fly, a documentary about a swimmer based in their hometown of Alexandria, VA. “Her name is Cassidy Bayer, and we’ve been documenting her journey to try making the 2020 Summer Olympics for the past five years.” The mother-daughter duo will be launching a Kickstarter soon!

“I love film so much because it’s a visual story,” Skopp-Cardillo told us. “Writing a story is hard for me to do, and I sometimes have a hard time processing when reading a story. Film has a way of connecting with the audience that no book or article can. Film brings stories to life—and I love being a part of that.”

She does write, however—and exceptionally well. Skopp-Cardillo signed up as a contributor for Her Campus after seeing their panel at the 2017 Women’s Convention that she attended thanks to CCAR. “The panel was about how women both should not be afraid to write and should create a safe place for [other] women to feel confident in writing,” she said. Her articles cover topics from women in film, women film history, society awakenings, and women history stories. Check them out!

Did you know she’s a third generation Pace student, too? Her grandmother, Irene Maruzzella Cardillo, graduated from Good Counsel College in 1951 with a degree in chemistry. For those who don’t know, Good Counsel is now Pace’s Law School. As for her mom? “She gave the Commencement speech at the 1980 graduation ceremony. She was also [the] Editor-in-Chief of New Morning,” Skopp-Cardillo said, which was Pace’s then-student newspaper. Talk about awesome legacies!

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