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Ella May Kirby


    LCC Degree Shows 2017

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We follow the story of Anna, a gentle-faced flamenco dancer who, after being raped, is drawn back home. By her side are both a young girl, the daughter she cannot connect with, and her mother, a stern-eyed catholic. We shadow Anna’s process of coping and how she regains her identity as a woman and as a parent. 

Hi Ella, thanks for talking to tNC, how's everything going?

Very well thank you! It’s great to meet you. 

Today saw the LCC Degree Shows: Screen School Preview at The Workshop, did you had any nerves ahead of the event?

Not really! It was more excitement on behalf of the team to show everyone our film. 

How did the project come about?

When I moved to Catalunya at the age of 5, I timidly joined a group of women leaning flamenco after school. Led by a high-energy, mother from Seville, we learnt how to embrace our bodies and to express ourselves fearlessly. Less than half a year ago, when developing a concept for a film, my memories of the lessons held in the attic of Pili's house, how she felt about strong womanhood and endless rhythm, incited me to write the story of 'Niña'. Still unsure and concerned about my full understanding of the art form of flamenco, I hoped to find my teacher again, after 6 years of not seeing each other. We'd lost touch, she'd re-married and moved away. I didn't know where to begin my search. That afternoon walking through the village with my family we bumped into her. I knew then that this film needed to be made. Here we are.

What is it about flamenco that inspired you?

Ultimately it's spirituality. I’ve been very lucky to see this dance form performed many times and every time it’s an evolution - a fearless and unique vulnerability of those involved. 

Tell me a little bit about Niña, what can we expect? 

Well hopefully everyone involved can go on the same journey we went on. Honestly, with the making of this film we all committed to opening ourselves to our characters, settings and story from beginning to end. The main focus of the film is womanhood and the whirlwind of being a mother. 

What was the inspiration behind this film?

This film is inspired by the art of flamenco dance, women and my beautiful Mum.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

As a team most of the scenes flowed very naturally on set, but if anything was challenging at times was working with little Aran - it was most of the crew's first time working with someone so young. She is three years old and sometimes convincing her the camera wasn’t a monster was interesting. This said, it never lasted more than five minutes and working with children as a director has, as I expected, become one of my highlights.

Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?

Due to how ambitious this project was, taking it abroad with a skeleton crew and balancing different languages, I think if we were given the chance to go bad and do it again, I doubt we’d do anything differently.

What would you say has been the most important lesson you've taken from making this film?

The importance of teamwork. This film has formed a family of individuals from all over the world and consequently made every aspect of this film organic. This great collaboration is highlighted with my Producer Mai Wongsawasdi, who took on the whole production department by herself and cinematographer Bryan Lim, who has been with me since day one. I will be eternally grateful to both of them. 

Have you always been interested in filmmaking? 

I came from a writing background alongside different interests in art and music and it wasn’t really until degree level that I realised that film is the perfect culmination of all of my interests. 

"As time passes and you make more films you realise the kind of content creator you want to be."

How much has your approach to filmmaking changed since your debut?

As with anything you develop and learn. In my case, the art of telling stories using film language and confidence. As time passes and you make more films you realise the kind of content creator you want to be. 

What has been the best advice you've been given?

My parents always say to try and understand a person's background before judging them. Also to always be kind.  
And finally what do you hope people will take away from your film?

Hopefully it’s a reflection on seeing women in film approaching life from a meditational outlook. We believe there isn’t enough of that.

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