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  • Writer's pictureLouie Young

An interview with Birmingham and LGBTQ+ filmmaker, Ellie Hodgetts.

Ellie Hodgetts is a Birmingham-based filmmaker aiming to make an impact in the film industry with her representation of the LGBTQ+ community in her pictures. With upcoming work on LGBTQ+ projects, why is it important she represents her community in her films?


Ellie Hodgetts on the set of Fairview Park. PC: Ellie Hodgetts


What early memories of film do you have from your childhood that inspired you to become a film maker?


I remember being interested in telling stories in general before that translated into telling stories through the medium of film. I liked to write short stories and perform little plays and things like that when I was really young, and then it wasn't really until I went to university to study something completely different, that I really began to think that screenwriting or filmmaking was something I might be able to do. Before that, I sort of saw it as a bit of a pipe dream. It was reading about other filmmakers' journeys into film that really inspired me, and made me believe that maybe I could do it too.


Did you study film making or did you enter the industry another way?


I didn't study filmmaking straight away. I remember actually being advised against choosing the more creative subjects at school in favour of what they saw as 'more academic'. I ended up doing my degree in Psychology but realised pretty quickly that I wanted to pursue film, and a few years later I applied for a master's course in Documentary Filmmaking, which was my first big step into filmmaking.


Since then, I've been on a pretty interesting journey through documentary and drama filmmaking and have been very lucky to be a part of the projects I've worked on. I will say, you definitely don't need to go to film school to become a filmmaker, but for me it was a way to build confidence in the craft, and to meet other people who were serious about making films, and I still collaborate with some of those people now.


How important is LGBTQ+ representation in your films?


As an LGBTQ+ filmmaker, I'm often drawn towards stories that represent my community and the history of my community, which has been largely erased or under documented. Both of the LGBTQ+ films I have made so far 'We Are Here' & 'Fairview Park' discuss communities or events from LGBTQ+ history that I wasn't aware of beforehand, which I think shows how pushed aside our stories often are.

Stills from left to right: Fairview Park, We Are Here and Erena...Our Eritrea. PC: Ellie Hodgetts


It's important to me to represent the LGBTQ+ community in the most authentic way that I can through my films, which can hold a lot of weight, because showing LGBTQ+ people on screen so openly is still a fairly new concept when you think about it, and I've had to learn a lot in order to tackle some of the more difficult themes in my films. Luckily there are so many talented up and coming LGBTQ+ filmmakers and storytellers who are offering their own unique perspectives, so I'm really excited for the future of Queer film and for our voices to finally be heard.


How does the filmmaking process vary as you go from film to film and what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your first picture to your most recent?


The process definitely varies from film to film in terms of research and the time spent in the preproduction stage, and then onto the budget that you have to make the film, and what kind of story you are telling, the people you're working with etc. A lot of what I've been working on recently has been quite research heavy, which I love, because you become a mini expert in these things that you had no idea about before.

Voices, PC: Ellie Hodgetts


My first film was a short experimental documentary called 'Voices', where I was the only crew member and most of the interaction with the films contributors was done online. My most recent film, 'Fairview Park' was a BFI Network supported drama based on a true story, and we had a real budget and a big cast and crew. So, it's safe to say I've had to learn a lot in between making those films. I suppose one of the biggest things I've learned, and I'm still learning, is how to communicate my ideas in a clear way to lots of different people, and with as much confidence as possible - even when I'm unsure of something, to be able to admit that, and make a decision anyway.


Do you have any advice to other young film makers who are trying to make it in the industry?

Firstly, I think there are lots of routes into the industry and lots of ways to be 'in the industry'. For example, I don't work full-time in film. I have a regular job to support myself, and I write and make films whenever I can. It works for different people in different ways, and over time you can find out what works for you. I'd say the biggest piece of practical advice I can give, is to start by finding other people who want to make films and make something together. It doesn't have to cost anything. You can film it on a phone, borrow some sound equipment, film something in your local area. If you can find a simple story and tell it well then it can take you a long way.

Home Safe, PC: Ellie Hodgetts


I made my first narrative film 'Home Safe' a couple of years ago for a very small budget with a fantastic cast and crew who were working for expenses only, because they believed in the story and because we knew some of them, and they were happy to do us a favour. We filmed in and around my house at the time, with borrowed equipment from crew and using streetlights for light. We also had a decent script with a clear narrative drive. That was enough to get us into some great film festivals - and once you start getting into festivals, you can meet more filmmakers and industry professionals and lots of filmmakers get noticed this way.


What are your plans for the future?


I'm working on a couple of LGBTQ+ related projects at the moment which I'm hoping to get funded, so I'm looking forward to seeing where they go. We are also embarking on our festival run for 'Fairview Park' this year which I'm sure will be an emotional journey and a way for audiences to learn about the unjust murder of Declan Flynn, a gay man who was killed in Dublin in 1982.


Interested in learning more about Ellie Hodgetts' filmography? Visit her website here!



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