STUDENT HIGHLIGHT | Lisa Jacobs

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Lisa Jacobs

MMAC's newest blog series: Student Highlights

We're exploring the world of our students at Austin School of Film and their lives. The goal of this series is to shed light on real-life Central Texas creatives exploring what & why they create.

When students are empowered by their community - they learn more, and they learn better. Empowered students are motivated, confident, and ready to accomplish their goals - whatever they may be.


Lisa Jacobs recently landed an exciting nomination at the Oaxaca International Film Festival for her screenplay completed in ASoF's 8-week Intro to Screenwriting course. Learn about Lisa's nomadic life and her inspiring journey through creativity + exploration. 

You're a a writer and a full-time nomad. What are your passions? 

Honestly, I'm on a path right now to discover my passions.  My creative spirit was squashed at a very young age when I learned it wasn't realistic to be an artist and the odds of "success" were stacked against me.  I gave up my love of acting and writing in college and went to law school instead of following my dreams.  Living full-time on the road is a way to tap into the creative energy I've shut down for so long.  I have no itinerary on the road; I go where my gut tells me to go and that has resulted in connecting with incredible and creatively inspiring people along the way.  I'm pursuing my passions for writing, performing, entertaining other with my raw and embarrassing tales of living on the road.

You took a screenwriting class at ASoF. What made you want to take a screenwriting class and how did you find out about ASoF and chose to take the class here?

 Lisa via @vacayvans

Lisa via @vacayvans

I took a screenwriting class at ASoF because I had a story to tell and did not know how to tell it.  The story felt like a movie to me because in my mind it was all visual.  I wanted to to take a screenwriting class to learn how to get the story out of my head and onto the page.  The class taught me so much!  I learned how to frame my experiences and ideas into a complete "story," I learned about characters and motivation, and it created a structure for me that helped me communicate my ideas in an effective manner. 

Tell us about writing your screenplay in class and what your writing process was like? Did writing for a class make a difference (as opposed to just writing on your own)?

I love taking classes as an adult.  I learned how to sew a few years ago from taking classes and have dabbled in acting classes as well.  Classes create a structure that holds you accountable and makes you do the work.  Without the class, my short would likely just be a faint idea, rather than a script in an international film festival!  I definitely procrastinated in class, like I always have, and sometimes I was completing assignments the night before they were due, but I always completed them.  Edward, my instructor, did an amazing job of structuring the class and having us start with the big picture first and then slowly nail down the details.  His process with the weekly assignments was incredibly helpful for crafting my story.

What are some things you have learned that you think are helpful to other students at ASoF through your screenwriting class?

I didn't know anything about writing a screenplay before class, so I was starting from scratch.  I learned about log lines and pitching, pacing of a story in a film, how to categorize and create pivotal moments in the story, and especially about what drives a character and how to make an honest character with real-life flaws.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

You also travel full time in a camper van. How long have you been doing that? What made you decide to live a nomadic life?

I've been living in a 2012 Nissan NV 2500 high roof and I document my travels on Instagram/YouTube as Vacay Vans.  I have been working remotely for several years and never considered full-time travel, but once I started meeting people living and working on the road, I realized the incredible life opportunities I could have if I was permanently mobile.  I was initially terrified to become a solo nomad, but the support from other nomads and from the #vanlife instagram phenomenon have been incredible.  I never feel lonely on the road because I know there are always new potential friends nearby.                                                                                                            

 Lisa in her van via her Instagram @vacayvans

Lisa in her van via her Instagram @vacayvans

What are your main occupations while you're traveling around?

I used to work in-house for an internet marketing company in their legal department, but I asked to be downgraded to the administrative department to have less hours and less pay.  I also have rental properties in Austin that I manage remotely that help me pay the bills.  My low monthly expenses help me afford to live this lifestyle.

Are you working on any new scripts right now? If not, do you plan to continue working on scripts?

The main reason I took the screenwriting class was because I wanted to write a screenplay about my solo vanlife journey.  So much has been happening on the road, and I've been focused on documenting through social media photos and videos, that I have not prioritized writing the screenplay.  I am trying to journal as much as possible and hope that this will be my next project.  I picture it as a television show about my siblings, starting when we all moved into the same house together as adults to take care of my mom who was dying from breast cancer.  After her death, so much has happened-- a divorce, a business collapse, an estranged sibling, and I've moved into a camper van.  I hope to document and share this entertaining and dramatic story one day. 

"In all honesty, I feel like I don't even need to be a creative "writer," I'm just documenting the wild world around me."  

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Follow Lisa's journey across the global on Instagram!

INTERVIEW BY: Mia Garza