IEM recently had the opportunity to sit down with Elif Balci, a rising star in the entertainment marketing industry, to discuss her background, movies that inspired her, and some of her recent projects that had the internet buzzing! Originally from Istanbul, Elif studied at the University of San Diego. After landing a series of impressive internships at companies like WPP, TBWA, Elle Magazine, and Clio Awards, she began her professional career as a production assistant for one of the most awarded agencies in entertainment marketing, Tiny Hero. Since then, Elif has worked on projects including Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), Amsterdam (2022), Peter Pan & Wendy (2023),  and The Little Mermaid (2023).

Outside of the office, Elif has served as a committee chair of the Women in Business Committee at UC San Diego and is a member of Spark and the Soapbox Women organizations. How she has accomplished so much in such a short time astounds us all. Let’s find out more…

Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?

I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. I moved to the U.S. in 2018 for college (University of California, San Diego). I’ve been living in Los Angeles since August 2023.

What was your first job in the industry?

One day I received an email from a professor/mentor in my college about an incredible opportunity to apply to experience the judging process for the 2021 Clio Entertainment Awards. I applied immediately and was lucky to be chosen among hundreds of applicants. This opportunity changed the course of my career. After this, I got an internship at the Clio Entertainment Awards, which then led to a position at Tiny Hero right after my graduation. Now I’m working as a Production Coordinator at Tiny Hero, and I absolutely love it.

Tell us about a breakthrough moment in your career.

Being a NextGen Ambassador for Spark! Spark is the organization that provided me with the opportunity to start my career, and ever since then, they have been an incredible support and source of inspiration. I’m so grateful for all the invaluable connections and mentors I have made through this organization.

What are three movies you couldn’t do without, and why?

The Truman Show – I love movies that make me question my view on life while also keeping me entertained. The Truman Show did exactly that. It made me question what reality is and left me pondering.

Shawshank Redemption – This was the first movie where I felt the power of a great plot twist. The ending of this movie left me speechless, and it was truly a masterpiece.

Soul – This animation is my go-to movie when I need to remember how to be present and enjoy life to the fullest. The creativity of this movie, combined with the depiction of complex topics such as the afterlife and purpose, make this movie one of my favorites.

What’s your favorite movie quote?

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present” – Kung Fu Panda (2008)

What’s your favorite movie trailer or poster, and why?

My favorite movie trailer is for the movie Promising Young Woman.

What’s special about this trailer is that it manages to discuss an important and overlooked topic in a meaningful, scary, and comical way simultaneously. The music choice and soundbed help make this trailer impeccable. Another favorite aspect of this trailer is it promotes creativity while showing empathy as it discusses a very sensitive topic and I believe that empathy is the backbone of many creative ideas.

What’s a classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved?

I love Friends. I think it’s a show that helps bring people together. Anyone from any age, background, or belief can watch this show and enjoy it. It also helps me navigate my 20s by depicting very relatable characters and life situations.

A recent show I loved was Ted Lasso. This show is very wholesome, and I love how it addresses important issues while keeping things lighthearted and entertaining. I always feel so positive after watching any episode!

What are some projects you worked on recently that you’re proud of, and why?

I was lucky enough to be the production coordinator for the marketing projects of some great titles, such as Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, Peter Pan & Wendy, and Amsterdam. One of the most exciting recent ones is The Little Mermaid. We worked on a Times Square billboard takeover for the movie, which looks incredible. Halle Bailey tweeting about it on her social media only made this experience feel more unreal.

What’s someone else’s project that you admired recently, and why?

The new Hunger Games trailer by Aspect gave me goosebumps! I am a fan of the series and have been waiting for the new one. To hear the iconic music with great bites and scenes was incredible.

What is one thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you’re excited about?

Artificial intelligence! AI will be an incredible tool to advance this industry and nourish creativity. I’m excited to see the advancements through AI.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in entertainment marketing?

I would be a travel blogger. I love traveling and exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures while meeting new people with different life stories.