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Cecily Trenka: Baptized Into The World Of Entertainment

By Nick Christophers

From her first baby steps Cecily Trenka was surrounded by talent whether it be her parents or fellow siblings. Both film and theatre have been a strong influence in her younger years which she followed with much fervor. Even though acting never fit her well, directing did. In high school along with her friends she began making super 8 movies this is when she found the directing bug.

Cecily & Rob FunaroCecily went ahead to attend NYU and majored in cinematography.  She shot many films while honing her directing skills. Fresh out of college she worked mostly on industrials and rap videos. But an unfortunate change in the industry took place with the collapse of NABET which caused much of the work relocating to L.A.

“I don’t have the right personality for acting.  You need to take rejection in stride and keep on going, always having a smile and a positive attitude.  I’m too much of a grouch. However I’ve always been around actors.  I understand how they work and what they need which I feel makes me a good director.”

Her first directing debut since her work in the 80’s is the film “Remember Me?” which she co-wrote. She feels personally attached to the film since she was so close to it’s production. The current feedback she has been receiving is very positive. She has worked with DP Steve Sage and script writer Lee Kolinsky on this film and many others. One of her favorite works is the film “Junkie Heaven” which has won a number of festival awards. She was the producer and AD as well as sound recordist. Her company Rapier Wit Films has put out a lot of work. The music video “Ready To Run” was a three day project that has also won festival awards. Cecily was the AD and spent most of the shoot directing zombies, which is harder than most would think.

When it comes to looking for inspiration one specific film hits the spot for her. The blockbuster “Blade Runner” with DP Jordan Cronenweth.  Another great cinematographer she admires is Sven Nykvist, who shot Ingmar Berman’s films. Cecily is also a big fan of directors Ridley Scott and Catherine Bigelow. She finds these talented individuals a good source of knowledge when it comes to directing and producing.

During her journey in the industry she did have to leave it behind to take care of her family. She would turn to a field much different than movie making. Cecily needed security and took on a job as a science teacher. She went back to school and completed a Masters in Geology.  But the directing bug was still buzzing around somewhere in herself. Eventually an opportunity presented itself and Cecily jumped at it.

“I got brought onto the tech team at the Long Island International film Expo by a friend, John Marean.  We worked together for a few years then went our own ways but I met so many talented filmmakers there as well as a slew of contacts. My first day back on a set was Fred Carpenter’s “Send No Flowers”. I was there to help lighting and grip and I remember walking into the location and seeing all the practical bulbs and thinking, “Man we are going to have to gel everything”  Then the DP, Sean King says “Why we can just white balance?”  I knew then that I would have to start from scratch if I wanted to DP again so I gradually got into location sound.  That’s my favorite thing to do on set.”

At this point the seed was planted once again for Cecily to return to her lost love. Cecily has her own way of seeing a scene. When working as an AD she draws the storyboards so she can visualize the shot the way a director or DP describe it. The knowledge she acquired from NYU has played a huge role for her. Yet as she explained every set is different.

When it comes to actors she has worked with a few gems come to mind. Actors like Sean Young (Send No Flowers), Robert Clohessey  (Last Taxi Driver, Charlie Mantle and Disco) Devon Moyd (Ugly) and Joe Halsey (Junkie Heaven, Leaving, Stand up Guy). And of course her siblings Dash and Gwen Mihok. 

Cecily normally goes under the title Producer/Sound Recordist, which many people are unfamiliar with. Sound is a role that is crucial to the production of any film. She needs to be on point knowing the shot list prior to any actors going on. Typically she listens in on conversations the director and DP are having so she would know where to set up the boom and not cast any shadows. She has to be on the ball and ready to set up as soon as possible.

Sometimes it is tough to have siblings with such status as Dash Mihok who is a regular on “Ray Donovan”. She would love to work with him in the future, but being on opposite sides of the country makes it difficult. Dash is also a musician and is working on an album as well.

Cecily is currently working on the project “Stand Up Guy” (pre-production) starring Joseph Halsey (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). She is determined to keep building on what she loves. Yet she is looking to break into features and if a good script comes her way maybe even direct a full length. Cecily hopes to return to movie making full time and retire from teaching. But until then she remains a weekend film warrior equipped with a sound rig and a dream.

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