Ella Greenwood

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Ella: "It is okay to go down different routes and change direction, as long as you’re passionate about what you are doing because at the end that is all that matters."

Issue X Cover Feature Empower

Interviewed by Vanshika Gandhi and Bhagyashree Prabhutendolkar

Edited by Ann Vigi

Photo courtesy of Ines Hachou

30th September, 2021

Ella Greenwood is a British Filmmaker and the Founder of Broken Flames Productions. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree.

Aged 18, she wrote, directed & produced her first film 'Faulty Roots' which was selected for BAFTA Qualifying festivals and is now being developed into a feature film in partnership with social impact agency TerraMedia. She is also working on her next film 'Self-Charm' starring BAFTA Winner Bukky Bakray. Other upcoming projects include 'Smudged Smile' with Mia Mckenna-Bruce, 'Why Wouldn't I Be?' with Harry Collett and made in partnership with HUMEN, 'Better Get Better' with Elisha Applebaum and 'Fifty-Four Days'.

What got you into film-making and acting at such a young age? How have the initial years been different from now?
Ella: I have always loved movies and going to the cinema. So, from a young age, I knew that I wanted to be involved with making them. For a long time, I thought acting was the only way to be involved in movies, so I joined youth theatres. I signed with an agent early on, but then I realized that I wanted a bit more control over my work and what I did with my time. Therefore, I decided to start filmmaking. It honestly does not feel that different. Everything still feels similar to the initial years because each project you take on teaches you something new, and at every point of your journey you have to figure out new things.

Just at the age of 18, you wrote, directed and produced your first film ‘Faulty Roots’ . How did the experience of writing, directing and producing your first short film play an instrumental role in shaping your career and your life?

Ella: I had no experience when it came to film-making until Faulty Roots. So, I guess producing my first ever short film taught me a lot about the filmmaking side of the industry. It gave me the experience of producing, directing and writing films which is all I focus on right now, thus it had such a huge impact on my life.

 

Watch our interview with Ella Greenwood, Cover Feature of Issue X

You are an award winning British actress, filmmaker and producer. How surreal does all this feel? Does it feel overwhelming sometimes? How do you cope with it?

Ella: It does not feel surreal because I am always focusing on what is next. It is overwhelming at times because my To-Do list never seems to get done. There are always some hurdles to be overcome or something to be stressed about. So, I rarely celebrate my achievements which makes me realize that I should probably start celebrating them. However, I always make an effort to focus on what I have, and I try to enjoy it.

 

You are also the director of the production company, Broken Flames Productions. Does Broken Flames aim to focus on anything in particular?

Ella: Yes, Broken Flames focuses on mental health-based projects. I always wanted to change the way the media represented mental health, so it has been great to work on all these different projects that aim to do so. We have started to branch out with this concept by working on short features, TV shows and documentaries. We are also working through submissions for our film fund, so it has been wonderful to see all the different ideas we get for the purpose of approaching the topic.

 

What inspired you to use your power of filmmaking and acting to shed light on issues like Mental Health? When did you feel that it was important for you to advocate for Mental well being and mental illnesses?

Ella: As a young teen, I struggled with my mental health. It was something I personally experienced, so I wanted to share these experiences with others who are still struggling. I hoped to try and help improve their understanding of ‘mental well-being’ and consequent ‘mental illnesses.’ It was also a medium to tell other people’s stories.

 

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Looking back at your journey, if you were to say something to your 16 year old self, what would it be?

Ella: To not be so set in your plans - that it is okay to go down different routes and change direction as many times as you want, as long as you’re passionate about what you are doing because at the end that is all that matters.

 

How integral is activism to your life and career? How do you align it with your passions?

Ella: I think it is deeply interconnected with my passion. I believe that if you are passionate about something, that is great. But, if the thing that you’re passionate about can hopefully help others then it makes it even more worthwhile.

 

As an actress, director, producer and activist, you juggle a lot of roles everyday. How do you manage to maintain a work-life balance and avoid burnout?

Ella: Work-life balance is something that I have to put a lot of effort into maintaining. I love my work, so I will always work way too much. However, getting to spend some time with family and friends is equally as important as work. It is something that relaxes me and makes me forget about work for a bit.

 

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You’re currently adapting your short film ​Faulty Roots​ into a feature length film, what’s it about?

Ella: Faulty Roots is about a depressed teen who is forced to spend the summer with an insufferably cheerful childhood friend. The friend tries to ‘fix’ her with childlike playdates while struggling with his genetic illness.

 

What would the title of your Autobiography be?

Ella: 'You probably don’t need to be that stressed.'

 

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