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Ella Greenwood of Broken Flames Productions: “Not giving up is the most important thing you can do”

I’m focusing on a slate of mental health based projects with my production company and hope that the films will raise more awareness of mental illness, and bring comfort to people. I’m also an ambassador for teen mental health charity stem4 and feel so grateful to be able to help with all of the amazing […]

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I’m focusing on a slate of mental health based projects with my production company and hope that the films will raise more awareness of mental illness, and bring comfort to people. I’m also an ambassador for teen mental health charity stem4 and feel so grateful to be able to help with all of the amazing work that they do to support young people.


As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ella Greenwood, a British Actress and Filmmaker born and raised in London, England.

Aged 18, she wrote, directed & produced her first film ‘Faulty Roots’ which was called ‘A rather powerful little story’ by UK Film Review and ‘Truly a special film’ by LGTH. Faulty Roots was nominated for an Award by Film The House which is run by Parliament and sponsored by Disney, Lionsgate, Warner Bros and more. Faulty Roots premiered at the Busan International Kids & Youth Film Festival and was selected for many other festivals including BAFTA Qualifying Bolton International Film Festival and Tallgrass Film Festival in the US. Ella created her first animation ‘Dreary Days’ also aged 18. She is now in development of her first feature film, which is an adaptation of Faulty Roots, as announced by Film Stories Magazine and featured by Deadline, Yahoo, BBC, Heyuguys, BroadwayWorld and more. She is also working on her next film ‘Self-Charm’, which was recently featured by Variety after announcing that Rocks (Netflix) Breakout Star Bukky Bakray would be taking on the lead role.
​​​​​​​Ella is an ambassador for leading teen mental health charity stem4 and is building a slate of mental health based projects with her company Broken Flames Productions.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

I’ve always wanted to be an actor and have been with an agent from a young age after sending my headshot to just about every agency in London! When I turned 18, I decided that I wanted to start making films and telling my own stories, and so got started on producing my first short ‘Faulty Roots’.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

There’s been so many funny and interesting moments as the industry is so varied and exciting, but something that always makes me laugh thinking back is when I was on my way to an awards ceremony and I had brought my best friend along. I’m the worst at leaving it till the last minute to get ready and so we were panicking, and I tried to put matte lipstick on in like two seconds which went awfully and then I couldn’t get it off. It was pouring down with rain so we got a lift to the station, but the traffic was at a standstill, so we had to get out and run in heels whilst getting absolutely drenched. It was pretty hectic, and we turned up looking like drowned rats on the red carpet, but I’ve never laughed so much, and we had the best time. I took away from it the fact that I should allow myself longer to get ready (I still don’t) but also that things go wrong sometimes but if you can laugh about it and still enjoy yourself then that’s what matters.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I would say to just go for things. I didn’t have any experience of making a film prior to making my first short but just went for it! Never be afraid to learn on the job and give it your all, no matter how overwhelming it seems.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

There are so many people, and all of my friends and family have been so supportive of my career, but my dad was the one who really encouraged me to make Faulty Roots and doing that has impacted my life so much. I wanted to make a short film but didn’t think I would be able to as I just had no clue where to start, but he encouraged me to do it, and said that whatever support was needed, he would be there for me. I don’t know if I would have even made a film if it wasn’t for him!

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I’m focusing on a slate of mental health based projects with my production company and hope that the films will raise more awareness of mental illness, and bring comfort to people. I’m also an ambassador for teen mental health charity stem4 and feel so grateful to be able to help with all of the amazing work that they do to support young people.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I struggled with my mental health as a young teen and it was extremely difficult. I didn’t know what I was going through and felt very alone, so want to help support people who are in a similar position to me when I was struggling.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I had a lovely message from someone saying that they really related to Faulty Roots and that they had read an interview of mine where I talked about mental health and that it brought them a lot of comfort. It was interesting because this person was a man from Texas aged at least 60+ and so is pretty much the opposite of me but the fact that he could still relate to the experiences that I shared and that it brought him some comfort was a wonderful thing to hear.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Individuals can remind people that they are there for them, you never know who is struggling so it’s important to check in on people. Society can help end the stigma around mental illness by speaking more openly about it. The government can introduce more awareness of mental illness and improve the support that is available to young people in schools.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

Don’t set such strict plans with where your career will go — I used to think that I would only be happy as a successful actor, but I love filmmaking as much as acting now, and have no idea what I will be doing in a year, and that’s a good thing!

Not giving up is the most important thing you can do — There have been times when going down an easier path seemed like a good option, but I truly believe that the most successful people are those who don’t give up.

Rejection isn’t the end of the world — I’ve fallen in love with jobs that I didn’t end up getting, and I found it hard to take in, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had got the job, and I’m pretty happy with where I am!

Don’t be afraid to still live life — In particular with acting, I used to be scared of going on holiday or booking anything as I didn’t want to miss an audition, but experiences are so important. You have to still live your life and spend time with family and friends, work isn’t everything. Experiences are what make you a better filmmaker and actor too.

You don’t have to respond to an email straight away — I used to feel the need to give people responses straight away, but it’s important to go through everything first and give the correct response.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want so many people to be trained in mental health first aid. Wait lists here in the UK, and I’m sure it’s similar in many places, are extremely long for people who need help with their mental health. It can be months before they receive any help. They should be able to get help as soon as they need it, and if loads more people were trained on how to assist them, then at least some support would be able to be given to them there and then. Even if it’s just talking with them, recommending resources and advice, it would make such a difference.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

‘Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.’ I honestly live by this. There have been so many times when something seemed too overwhelming, stressful or scary but I’m good at just being able to go for things and put all of that aside, and my life has definitely changed for the better from doing so.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Reese Witherspoon! I’m such a huge fan of her work as an actress, but I also really love everything that she has produced with her company Hello Sunshine. It would be so great to chat to her about her career so far and what she’s working on!

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!


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