Film and television is a growing industry in Oklahoma. With recent hits like Reservation Dogs and August Osage County, works from Oklahoma or featuring Oklahoma are gaining more attention. But the organization that recognized Oklahomans’ passion for film many years prior was deadCenter Film Festival. deadCenter Executive Director and University of Central Oklahoma alumni, Alyx Picard, has watched the festival become a reflection of the state’s investment in film and television throughout her almost 20 years with the organization.
“It started as the thing I do for fun and fulfillment and then it became my job.” says Picard.
Film wasn’t her original goal when she enrolled at UCO. She began as a forensic science major and packed the first half of her freshman year with chemistry, physical sciences, and labs. It was an English Comp 1 professor in her second semester, David Macey, who noticed her knack for creativity and inspired the jump into an English creative writing degree and film studies minor.
“Macey was that kind of teacher, he stops you in your tracks and makes you reevaluate. I liked the storytelling behind the science, but I quickly realized my career would be spent in labs or testifying in court and that wasn’t for me.” said Picard, “I do still love a good true crime drama, though!” Picard first learned about deadCenter when she met her predecessor Kim Haywood, the previous executive director, on UCO’s campus. The two hit it off, and later that year, in a summer school French classroom Picard learned about a volunteer opportunity with the festival. Picard signed up.
“Professor Stephane Clement called for volunteers and I went for it. I met so many phenomenal people and it was a side of OKC I hadn’t seen before. It was a side of myself I hadn't seen before and I fell in love with all of that.” Picard says.
Much of what Picard does today requires a knack for creativity, but a mind for organization. As a student she worked in the dean’s office for the College of Liberal Arts where she gained valuable administrative work experience and grew comfortable in the skills needed to run an organization. It set Picard up for success in her role at deadCenter where she works with creatives and works to keep the organization running smoothly and on track.
“Spending part of my day in an administrative role at the Dean’s office, then the other part in creative writing classes and working with the festival was a really satisfying balance,” said Picard, “And it’s similar now that I manage different people, projects and work styles. Creative tasks like consulting on a script and reviewing shots really make the structured admin work easier.”
The jump into deadCenter leadership came in 2013 after years of working alongside festival organizers, helping with the festival each summer. Picard was brought on as the organization’s operations manager and festival coordinator and took on major projects like projects like creating an organizational database. In 2019 deadCenter saw its largest attendance ever. The festival had grown quickly in years prior and Picard is proud of the growth and expansion of their programming. Today Picard is proud that the organization offers education programs and is partnering with schools around the metro area. She hopes to show future members of our state’s workforce how vast the film industry really is and how much Oklahoma has to offer the art form. “There is a film industry in Oklahoma and it employs a lot of people- it takes all types.” says Picard, “I worked on a film as an intern in 2009 and I ended up in the accounting office at the end -, yes, film accounting is a thing. We want our students to see beyond the surface level of this industry and learn what people are really doing here.” Community outreach on UCO’s campus opened up doors for Alyx Picard. deadCenter’s campus visits and volunteer recruitment at the university drew her into a new passion that blossomed into a career. deadCenter has served as a leader in Oklahoma’s film industry, with pioneers like Picard at the helm.