Ella Greenwood is an up-and-coming director and actress. The Daily Fern spoke with her one-on-one about her work and the turmoils of adolescence, which she puts on full display in her original short film.
The Daily Fern: Hi Ella, it’s an honor to e-meet you! I personally watched your short film Faulty Roots and was struck by the way it fearlessly tackled topics like teen depression and loss. When writing the script for this film, did you set out to tackle these themes or did it evolve into this?
Ella Greenwood: It’s an honor to e-meet you too! I always knew that I wanted my first film to be about something that was important to me and raising awareness of mental health is definitely something that I wanted to promote and that I also felt I could write about, so I set out to tackle this theme and the story evolved from there.
The Daily Fern: There’s a tense moment in the film where your character has a visceral reaction after being told to ‘stop moping around’. To me, this stuck out because I hear that terminology used all the time. Why do you think that phrase is so isolating to people who may be struggling with depression or other mental health diagnoses?
Ella Greenwood: I think the phrase is isolating as it is used so casually but can have such a harmful impact. Everyday phrases like that, and ‘cheer up’ for example are like telling someone to actively stop having an illness when that isn’t how it works.
The Daily Fern: The film also subtly mentions eating disorder, therapy, and social anxiety. Amid all these topics, what message do you hope viewers walk away with?
Ella Greenwood: I hope viewers walk away with the message that it’s okay to be going through whatever it is you’re going through and also that you can talk about it and get better. I also want it to show that you never know what someone else is currently experiencing and so to just be kind!
The Daily Fern: I understand it was important to you to portray a genuine teenager’s perspective. Would you say that’s because Hollywood and the media are -- perhaps -- getting it wrong?
Ella Greenwood: I think there are definitely films that have inaccurately portrayed a teenager's perspective and I also find it quite frustrating when actors are clearly ten years older than their playing age and they also act a lot older than their playing age. It’s important for teenagers to see their views and themselves represented. I just wanted to make sure that I portrayed something real and honest.
The Daily Fern: What was it like directing and releasing Faulty Roots at only the age of 18?
Ella Greenwood: It was so much fun! I’ve always been intrigued by each role that a crew member had on set when I was acting and so I would observe a lot and try and take it all in and that gave me a better understanding of the behind the scenes workings. I loved getting to then put it all into practice and make my own film. I had such an amazing crew and cast for Faulty Roots and they all helped me make the film what it is. Things like purchasing an Insurance Policy and Renting Equipment were quite stressful though!
The Daily Fern: What are the biggest challenges being behind versus in front of the camera?
Ella Greenwood: The biggest challenges being behind the camera are making sure that the whole project is done well and that everything runs smoothly to allow each person to do their job in the best way possible. With acting, you have to make sure that you do justice to the character and that you give an honest performance but you can focus your attention on that. With being behind the camera, there are so many aspects that contribute to the film that you have to focus on such as the set design , the sound, the lighting, the edit, etc, so it definitely helps having an amazing crew!
The Daily Fern: Where do you pull inspiration from?
Ella Greenwood: I pull inspiration from what I’ve experienced and also from the things that I’ve witnessed or thoughts that I've had. I try to attend as many film festivals or showings of work that I can as I love to be inspired by other talented filmmakers and to support their work.
The Daily Fern: What message would you -- or your character -- give to those who might be struggling with some or all of the same issues depicted in your short?
Ella Greenwood: I would like to say that it’s so beneficial to share what you’re feeling, even if it’s just to yourself; it really helps you to understand everything that you’re going through. If you have a great friend or family member who wants to help you, then it may be difficult but you should try and let them.
The Daily Fern: Congratulations on all your success! Do you have any other projects on the horizon we can watch out for?
Ella Greenwood: Thanks so much! Yes, I’m currently working on my first animated film ‘Dreary Days’ so I’ll be sharing lots more updates about that soon!
Want to learn more about Ella? Follow her on social media !
This article was written by Salina Arredondo