An interview with Ella Greenwood: Get to know the talented filmmaker
Ella Greenwood is a British actress and filmmaker taking the entertainment world by storm. At the age of eighteen she not only had her directorial debut, but also released her first animated project. Now, she’s working to adapt one of her short films, Faulty Roots, into a feature length film.
On top of this she’s working on another film called Self-Charm starring the actress Bukky Bakray (Rocks). Greenwood is a busy young woman determined to create meaningful works.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Ella Greenwood some questions about her career so far, what’s coming next, and a little bit more. Here’s what Greenwood had to say.
Can you tell us how you got into filmmaking? What drew you to it?
I’ve always loved films, my favorite thing to do was to go to the cinema and I knew that I wanted to work in film for as long as I can remember. I’ve acted for a while and still love acting, but now filmmaking is something I love so much too. The magic of it all; the way you can tell important and crazy stories is what drew me into it.
Can you let us a bit about what you’ve done in your career so far?
I made my first short film Faulty Roots aged 18 and that’s now being developed into a feature. I also made my first animation Dreary Days and I’m currently working on my latest film Self-Charm.
You’re currently adapting your short film Faulty Roots into a feature length film, what’s it about?
It’s about a teenage girl with depression, and the friendship that she forms with a teenage boy who has a genetic illness. He tries to bring a bit of happiness back into her life by recreating her favorite childhood memories, as this is the last time she says she felt pure happiness.
What inspired you to create Faulty Roots?
I wanted to share some of the things that I experienced when struggling with my mental health, and to create a character that other young girls can relate too. I also wanted it to be a story filled with friendship.
What’s the learning curve been like adapting a short film into a feature length one?
It’s been so exciting. It doesn’t seem that different to working on a short except for the fact that everything is longer. The script needs to be so much longer, the time to shoot, there needs to be more people involved, more money involved, etc. But it’s still about telling a story that I love and hope will make a difference to people.
You’re also working on another project called Self-Charm, can you describe this one for us?
Self-Charm focuses on self-harm, which is an aspect of mental illness that is barely talked about at all. It focuses on a teenage girl who is struggling to find alternatives with her therapist, and so is asked to care for a plant as if it’s herself. The wonderful actress Bukky Bakray is taking on the lead role.
You managed to both create your first animation and have your directorial debut at the age of 18, how difficult and exciting was that?
They were both difficult and exciting, and completely different to each other.
Shooting Faulty Roots, I worked with some amazing crew members, but with Dreary Days, I animated it all myself. The thing that brings them together is that Gaby Ambler composed beautiful scores for both films!
What’s your filmmaking mission? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your movies.
I want viewers to be entertained and to enjoy what they’re watching, but I also want them to think about the film once they’ve finished watching it and for it to have had an impact on how they view things, even if it’s ever so slightly.
Can you walk us through your creative process for beginning a new project?
I tend to get really excited about projects and to just jump straight into them. I wrote all of my film scripts in a day, both shorts and features, and then I go over them later, but I love to just dive straight in and start getting everything ready pretty quickly.
You’ve also founded your own production company, Broken Flames Productions, does Broken Flames aim to focus on anything in particular?
We’re building a slate of mental health projects, and I can’t wait to share more news about this soon. We also focus on female led stories, and those that focus on young people.
You focus on mental health quite a bit in your works, what drew you to this topic and why is it important?
I struggled with my mental health as a young teen and wanted to share my experiences with this and to try and help others who are going through something similar to me. It’s so important for mental health to be spoken about, and for people to know that they’re not alone with what they’re going through.
You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?
It can be quite hard, but it also means that you get to keep really closely to what you have in mind for a project and to oversee it all. You get to be in control of a lot of things which can be good, but also stressful.
Would you ever consider working on an episodic series in the future?
Definitely! I would absolutely love to, and hope to in the future.
What’s your favorite film of all time, and what did you learn from it?
I have lots, but one of my all time favorites is Inside Out. Sadness is the cutest character ever and I learnt that it’s important to have those sad days as you appreciate the happy ones even more.
If you could have someone create a soundtrack for your life who would you choose to compose it?
I have no idea on what it would sound like but I would love Gaby Ambler to compose it! She seems to know exactly what I want for a film’s score, like a mind reader, and so would probably somehow be able to do this perfectly.
You seem to have dove headfirst into a filmmaking career, do you have any advice for people considering a similar career?
Just go for it! It can be scary and stressful and overwhelming but it’s better to feel all of that then to not do anything at all.
When you’re looking for inspiration what do you do?
I love writing out thoughts and then seeing if I can work them into a story. I tend to write conversations first and then build them into a story structure later.
Who or what would you say your current filmmaking influences are?
I love Sarah Gavron’s work, including Rocks, which Bukky Bakray starred in. She creates such powerful and complex female characters with her films.
What part of filmmaking do you geek out about the most?
All of it I guess! We were filming a scene recently that had to be done in one take and so it was pretty stressful before that as we had only one chance to get it right, but the actors completely nailed it and seeing them do that, and just how good the shot come out was so cool, I definitely geeked out!
And finally, an easy one, cats or dogs?
Probably cats right now as I wouldn’t have the time to walk a dog!
You can follow Ella Greenwood on either Twitter or Instagram to stay up-to-date on all of her upcoming projects!