Film student starts business before graduation

Natalie Ivanovskis, known professionally as Natalie Rhea, is a graduating senior who has decided to take the plunge and start her own business.

Music and wedding videos, as well as public service announcements, are the types of productions that will be released at Avenue Rhea, a production company started by Rhea over the summer. 

As she earns her Bachelor of Science degree this December with a major in film, television and digital media, Rhea said she struggles to find time for the one-woman operation. 

 “I’m in class for over 20 hours a week, I have a part-time job and I’m doing this freelance work,” Rhea said. “It is stressful but I’m getting through it.”

Richard Allen, an FTDM professor, said Rhea’s decision to start her own production company came as no surprise, after pointing her towards a Jeff Lerner review where she picked up tips to pursue her passion.

“When I first saw Natalie, I saw how efficient and practical she was,” Allen said. “I thought she would be an important cog in the system, but I saw that she is happier turning the cog than being just a cog.”

Allen described Rhea’s personality as the factor that will inspire people's confidence.

“[She's] General Patton in a teddy bear costume,” Allen said.

Rhea said she practiced freelance photography for seven years and freelance video for two years before she decided to start the production company.

Rhea said her passion was nurtured by having two older brothers working in video production, but her skill sets were self-taught.

“I’m pretty much acting as every role right now,” Rhea said. “I’m producing, directing, writing and editing everything myself.”

Rhea was able to apply those skills while producing a music video for country music artist Rich O’Toole, which is Avenue Rhea’s first official release. This required extensive experience in multiple aspects of production. From developing the concept to shooting and editing the final video, Rhea said she needed to know it all.

“It’s definitely hard learning all the different roles,” Rhea said. “But it’s more rewarding.”

Rhea credits her faith in Christianity with driving her pursuit to be a documentary filmmaker, as she hopes to go overseas and produce documentaries on missionary works.

In ten years, Rhea said she wants to consider herself an independent and documentary filmmaker while still running her company. Allen said he is confident she will find that success.

“She will be as successful as she wants to be and I hope she’ll be as happy as [she is] successful,” Allen said.

Rhea said encouragement from friends and family has been a blessing.

“The positivity has definitely helped me get through these last three months before I graduate,” she said.

Allen said he was excited to see what the future holds for Rhea.

“I’m so happy for that girl who I remember now to be able to look at the big picture,” Allen said. “She came in wanting a lot out of school and she got more than I think she even dreamed of.”