Myself from Five

by Elle Chernaskey

I have always been a vessel of energy ready to expend it in any possible way. For as long as I can remember, I was go, go, go, in all facets of my being. Physically, I would happily exhaust myself. Running laps around the house, challenging boys in basketball, and riding my bike until sun-down forced me to return home. Socially, I wanted to interact with everyone. I would practically trip over my feet running down my windy stairs to pick up the phone JUST for a few seconds of dialogue (no one was ever calling for me lol). Mentally, I pushed myself to my limits. In college, I often said yes to one too many commitments and found myself rushing from club meeting to a nanny job to an internship to the climbing wall. Whenever I felt my energy fading, I thought back to myself at age five.

incubator project

Although five is young, I was determined, didn’t give a crap what anyone thought, and loved a challenge. Like any five year old, I took in the world around me with attentiveness and curiosity. Every new moment was different and exciting. At this age I vehemently believed with every blink, a photograph was logged in my “picture book,” that would be compiled after a lifetime of blinking. In my highschool years, I would try to channel this perspective, hoping to see the world with similarly fresh eyes.

In college I upgraded my DSLR and vowed to travel as much as possible. I wanted to answer to my creative urges which was definitely not going to happen in my backyard. I spent hours researching ways to travel on a budget. I think my face still infiltrates the financial aid dude’s nightmares. But my perseverance to see the world worked. I was lucky enough to study in Costa Rica and Italy. I moved to Alaska for a summer. I climbed pyramids in Mexico. Saw the juxtaposition of cleanliness crossing the border from the U.S. to Canada. I backpacked Europe a few times solo and then once with friends. I owe this ambition and zest for new adventure to my five year-old self. That is who reminded me to be free-spirited, to not be afraid, and just go for it.

During my times of travel I found digital photography incredibly rewarding. Not only was I able to see beautiful places, I could also capture exactly what I wanted to remember and cherish. This excitement  led me to photographing solo backpacking trips to glaciers, cloud rainforests with eclectic species, and my friends drinking too much wine at biodynamic farms. Super sick experiences that I’m so grateful for. After graduating college a few months ago, I knew my traveling would come to a hiatus. I had some big decisions to make like where to work and where to live and nothing was really happening. A few months of crippling anxiety ensued and I was scared I’d end up climbing the corporate ladder. Five year old Elle would have none of that.

Through a painstaking job search and very stressful summer, I finally decided to apply to some creative internships. I felt really nervous about applying and knew I would be up against incredibly talented film students with much more talent and knowledge. But the mindset of Elle at five surfaced and I had to tell myself to not doubt so much and apply. A few days later I heard back from Jelani and was so stoked. After researching JTwo’s incredible work, I was surprised and excited to be considered and eventually get the position. Although I have the typical week-one nerves, I feel so lucky to be in this seat and I cannot wait to learn from this dynamic staff. Thus far I have felt extremely welcomed. I am ready to bust my ass and do everything I can to contribute and collaborate. Although I know I’m never getting my picture book, I hope to look back at times like these and smile.

incubator project


This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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