Ella Greenwood on founding a production company at 18, the film industry and the importance of mental health

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I grew up in London, England and always loved films so knew I wanted to work in the industry. I was home-schooled from the age of 13. I started out as an actor, signed with an agent and went to lots of auditions and then I decided to start filmmaking.

At the age of 18 you founded your own production company Broken Flames Productions, how did you set up your own production company? And what was the motivation behind this?

I decided that I wanted to make a short film aged 18, and if I was going to make a film, then I wanted to take it seriously and do it as best as possible, so also decided to start my own production company to make it. 

Faulty Roots is one of your upcoming feature films which will star Gavin & Stacey’s Melanie Walters. Can you give us a summary of this feature film and would you say this is your biggest achievement to date? 

Faulty Roots follows Lola, a teenage girl with depression whose mother tries to cheer her up by making her reconnect with an overly positive childhood friend, Zack. Lola says to Zack that the last time she felt true happiness was as a child, so Zack sets about on a mission to recreate her favourite childhood memories. Having my first short film being developed into a feature is something that I’m so proud of, and also getting to work with the wonderful Social Impact Agency TerraMedia to do this is so great.

What was the inspiration behind Faulty Roots?

I struggled with my mental health as a young teen and so wanted to share some of my experiences and to represent a young teenage girl with depression. I also wanted it to be a film on friendship.

You featured in the short version of Faulty Roots. Which do you prefer: writing, acting or producing/directing?

I love all of them a lot, but my favourite thing to do is to direct. Getting to piece the film together and work with actors to create your vision is something so wonderful.

Image courtesy of Inès Hachou

All of your projects aim to raise awareness of teenage mental illness. Why is it important to you to spotlight mental health? Do you feel there is not enough representation of young people’s mental health in the film industry?

Mental health is something that needs to be spoken about so much more. It’s still largely stigmatised, and people don’t realise how important it is to take care of your mental health. There’s definitely not enough representation in the industry, especially in young people.

Do you think celebrities/those with a big following should be doing more to raise awareness of mental health? What is your opinion on the role of social media on young people’s mental health?

I think it’s hard, because mental health can be a difficult thing for people to talk about, so celebrities should promote positive mental health but how much they share their own experiences depends on what they’re comfortable with. Social Media can be extremely damaging to young people’s mental health but again it can also be a good way for young people to connect with others and know that they’re not alone with what they’re going through. It’s important for people to recognise things that help their mental health and things that don’t and to change their habits to reflect this.

What is the script-writing process like? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I often tend to write scripts quite quickly and all in one go, and then to revisit them after and see if I still feel the same about them. I draw inspiration from things that I think need to be said, or stories that need to be shared. 

What do you love most about acting/producing films?

My favourite part is getting to be on set, working with wonderful cast and crew members.

Did you always want to go into this industry? 

Yes, literally always! I never thought it would be as a filmmaker though.

What is your favourite film of all time? Have you been enjoying a particularly series or programme recently?

Inside Out is my fave ever film, I just love Sadness. I’ve been binge watching The Office as I’ve never seen it before!

How have you found lockdown? Did it halt or increase your inspiration? 

I’ve still been able to go ahead and get projects done, but I think it’s a mixture of both. So many people’s mental health has taken a toll throughout lockdown and so there’s been a lot that I’ve wanted to say and share in relation with that, but I also draw a lot from my experiences, and I feel like you just don’t get to experience a lot in lockdown. I can’t wait to start going places and seeing people again!

What other projects are you working on? Any more films in the pipeline? 

I’ve just shot my latest films ‘Smudged Smile’ and ‘Why Wouldn’t I Be?’ and then I’m also writing a script for a new project too!

As a young filmmaker, how do you get over feelings of doubt? Or not being taken seriously? 

You just have to focus on the stories that you want to tell. Being passionate about projects is what gets you through it and being able to focus on accomplishments and goals rather than rejections. 

What are your short-term and long-term goals? 

My short-term goals are to get my current projects seen by lots of people, and long-term goals are expanding the way I tell stories – I’d love to work on a TV show and another animation.

Do you have any advice for those who are wanting to become producers themselves? What are the steps they can take to get where you are now?

To just start working – you don’t have to wait for anyone to allow you to do so, just start making films! Finding something that you’re passionate about and making connections with other people that can help you to tell those stories.

Featured image courtesy of Inès Hachou. No changes have been made to this image.

Keep up with Ella on Instagram @popsella


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