Every artist involved with the film industry knows how important it is to have your film screened, but having it screened at a recognized and prestigious film festival means even more.
The talented Emily Ellis is an Arcola resident who is currently working on her master of arts degree from Glasgow University who pulled that lucky ticket with one of her school projects – a short film named Lemon.
“Big news! Lemon made it into the Edinburgh Short Film Festival,” Ellis wrote on her social network page a few days ago. “Thank you for all of your love and care and support for me all of the time.”
Ellis said she always was really happy when any of her works were being screened, and the attention to Lemon, a film she made along with three other people in a matter of 14 hours, is exciting.
“Lemon is a creative idea, (it's) a sacred object. A lot of people are afraid of making things because they have that one good idea and they are scared of acting on it, because they are not going to do it justice, or they are scared of making it multiple times and getting called a cookie cutter artist,” said Ellis.
“So (Lemon) is about ideas (being) fleeting, art (being) fleeting, none of it really matters that much anyway, so just go for it, make it as many times as you want to, find something else. There is always another idea, so just go for it.”
Ellis said she is interested in taking real ideas that are hard to articulate and hard to talk about and slipping them into “these surreal, absurdist comedies.”
Lemon was created when Ellis was “spinning her wheels” on the dissertation. There were a few techniques that she wanted to try out, so she called her friends over to join her on that project. She drafted the script for Lemon during one of the lectures just on the margins of her notebook, and the final copy wasn’t that much different.
She believes that Lemon won’t win any awards, but even having it screened during the festival is great.
Prior to the success of Lemon, Ellis already wasn’t new to having her art recognized.
Her passion for film making started when Ellis and her little sister were kids. They would shoot short films or videos and show them to friends and family. Ellis put the hobby on pause when she turned 18 and didn’t come back to it until she was in her third year at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Her scope and approach to filmmaking changed at that time.
“I really like personifying objects. I like making films in a way that it kind of suspends viewers’ disbelief a little bit. By doing that you prevent them from putting up the same barriers to their own person that they would have going into a live-action film,” explained Ellis.
“When you personify objects, you just create that suspended space there is no opportunity to put these barriers up and you can get to people that way.”
When her roommate suggested making a film for the Al Whittle Theatre's Smartphone Film Festival, Ellis saw it as a great opportunity to have her art screened.
“So in just 12 hours on a Saturday, just with my phone I ended up making a film Soap,” recalled Ellis. “It’s just a bar of soap, but a lot of people have talked to me and they were like, ‘That’s me. That life, that’s me.’ And it’s just a bar of soap.”
Soap ended up winning the first place at that film festival in Wolfville, N.S.
“People there suggested that I enter it into a different festival in Halifax, so I did.”
Ellis hit the early bird registration deadline and paid only a $20 fee which along with $4 spent on a bar of soap to make the film, was a pretty permissive budget. That experience helped Ellis understand how much she actually enjoyed making films, and she switched her professional focus.
Her friend was planning to go to a university abroad and Ellis decided to try it out as well. She found the perfect program at the University of Glasgow.
“It’s kind of split. It’s an academic program and a practical arts course, film making and media arts. I thought it was the coolest thing,” said Ellis.
She added that on the one hand, she wanted to become a strong professional in filmmaking, but on the other hand, she didn’t want to shut doors for the academia world and a potential PhD one day. She is currently finishing her MA degree and plans to submit her dissertation in about a month.
She is also currently talking to some musicians about joint mixed art projects and is also working on other ideas, but at this time films remain Ellis’s hobby.
“I’d like to have an independent studio at some point (to develop) that way in a professional capacity, but for now it’s just me doing whatever I want.”
Lemon was one of the projects Ellis made while studying in Glasgow. It is planned to be screened during the Edinburg Short Film Festival in October or November, but Ellis said that with the pandemic, until likely the last moment, neither the organizers nor the participants will know for sure how everything will go.
Films by Ellis can be found at Emily Ellis’ YouTube channel.