Pioneer Public- Elise D’Haene

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Pioneer Public- Elise D’Haene

Written By Lauren Clouser, Co-Features Editor

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Elise D’Haene, a teaching artist in the cinema department, was a practicing psychologist when she decided she wanted to get into writing.

“I had a practice, I was a therapist, I realized I really wanted to write,” D’Haene said. “So the first thing I did was write a novel called ‘Licking our Wounds.’ And it had a lot to do with the AIDS crisis going on in LA at the time and it got published.”

D’Haene said writing helped her to work through tragedy.

“I actually wrote the novel because I found that the AIDS crisis was very difficult,” D’Haene said. “I had a lot of friends, family and some of my clients, many of my clients who died. And so it was sort of my way with coping with the tragedy was to write. And it suddenly felt as though something had opened up in me.”

From there, D’Haene’s agent gave the book to a producer in Los Angeles who liked her work, and offered D’Haene a job as a screenwriter for the show “Red Shoe Diaries.”

D’Haene had no prior screenwriting experience and had to learn on the job, but said she fell in love with her work. 

“It was really exciting and I loved the creativity and I loved working with actors and being on set,” D’Haene said. “It felt like I’d found my home and found what I wanted to do.”

D’Haene was contacted next by someone who had read her novel and worked at Disney. She wanted D’Haene to help rework the script of “The Little Mermaid II.”

“So I was working at Disney,” D’Haene said, “And that was exciting. It was a different process, you were working with a lot of people. It’s sort of really collaborative because there’s a big committee working on all of these scripts.”

D’Haene continued to write books and prose as well to help balance out the waiting involved with screenwriting.

“It’s a lot of waiting and it’s a lot of rejection,” D’Haene said. “And so that part of that industry is hard which is why I’m really glad I continue to write prose because I have more control over it. I love a short story that’s in a literary journal just as much as I love a big project that is getting on TV.”

D’Haene moved to Pittsburgh and applied to teach at Point Park after hearing about the university’s cinema program.

“I love universities because I like the energy, the youth, the excitement, the change, always learning new things,” D’Haene said. “So I’m super impressed with Point Park’s cinema arts program.”

D’Haene teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes and says that one of her favorite courses to teach is Introduction to Screenwriting because all of the students in the class want to be there.

“I just think there’s nothing like being in a room with 25 students and we’re all watching this movie and we’re all just completely in love with it,” D’Haene said. “There’s nothing like that feeling. It’s like a love affair with film.”

D’Haene continues to write for print and for the screen. D’Haene said she plans to continue writing, regardless of whether or not anything sells. 

“I may never get another thing on television or may never sell another project but I’m going to keep doing it because I love doing it,” D’Haene said.

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