Following her father’s footsteps, Melina McKinnon majored in chemical engineering at the University of Kentucky. Upon hearing of her mother’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, McKinnon returned to Dallas and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Chemistry from University of Texas at Arlington. Her mother’s cancer went into remission and McKinnon decided to travel. While in Australia, she decided to pursue a career in film. McKinnon’s mother lost her fight with cancer at age 47, and McKinnon (age 24) wondered what her mother would’ve done differently if she knew her time was limited.

(Photo courtesy of Melina McKinnon)

(Photo courtesy of Melina McKinnon)

That reflection made McKinnon look to film as an expression and started working with the Deep Ellum Film Festival. As a producer, she was working more on the funding and financing of films.

“Everybody goes back to school to get a leg up,” said McKinnon, who realized that she had never taken an accounting or business class in college. “I wanted to be raising millions of dollars instead of thousands of dollars.”

At age 32, McKinnon applied to Southern Methodist University, was accepted, received a partial scholarship and graduated with a Master’s degree in Business with a focus in Finance. Her admission was predicated on her taking an accounting and calculus class. “I was happy to take the classes because it opened a new world for me,” said McKinnon. She developed Trinity Diversified Film Fund Advisors to assist filmmakers in obtaining up to $25 million in financing for film distribution.

McKinnon co-founded M3 – Making Movies with a Mission to produce documentary films that are entertaining, inspiring and educational. Her projects have included “TV Junkie” which won the special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and “Torey’s Distraction.” She is currently working on a documentary film about the 1980’s in Dallas.

Filmanthropy Concept – Philanthropy through Filmmaking is also a creation of McKinnon. Filmanthropy brings philanthropists and filmmakers together to produce socially relevant and impactful films.

“You can never stop learning. No matter when you do it [going back to school], it can only make your life better. It can enhance your career. It is never too late,” said McKinnon.

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at