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Filmmaker Elizabeth Blake-Thomas: “I actually think you should burn out”

I actually think you should burn out. What I mean by that is go with the momentum. Build momentum and go for it. It’s hard work and tenacity. Once you’re at a place where you’ve built a career then you can even-out your work life balance. Then it’s important to prioritize as well as elevate […]


I actually think you should burn out. What I mean by that is go with the momentum. Build momentum and go for it. It’s hard work and tenacity. Once you’re at a place where you’ve built a career then you can even-out your work life balance. Then it’s important to prioritize as well as elevate what you’re doing, constantly striving for something better.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Blake-Thomas. As a British filmmaker living in LA, Elizabeth Blake-Thomas has written and directed 7 films over the space of two years. Having won several awards for each of her films at Action on Film, Lady filmmakers and The Christian Film Festival. She has directed a variety of genres: Kids, Family, Rom-Com, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Teen suicide and Drama.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My mum encouraged me to take drama exams as a little girl. The funny thing was that I hated drama lessons. I didn’t want to have to sit and be taught. I always wanted to create and be running the classes. So as soon as I could, I set up my own theatre company. This allowed me to really grow as a director. I started writing plays and books. My daughter would then be the biggest influence on me. She started acting on TV and in Film aged 5 years old. I would have to be with her on set and so I picked a lot of how it all worked just through osmosis. I then set up a non profit which was to encourage other young people in the industry. Without realizing it I was producing and naturally directing again. Finally just over two years ago, an ex boyfriend of mine suggested I became a film director. I asked how I could do this. His words were “you just say you’re a film director” Those 7 words changed my life.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Every day is an interesting day. I could be sitting in Hollywood and meeting John Landis or the actor Justin Hartley to being in a meeting about my own projects. Or I sit with other filmmakers and help them with their projects. I think it’s about the variety, the huge variety that my life includes. I have honestly no idea how my day is going to unfold. I have to pinch myself everyday. If I had to pick one moment though it would be when I realized the actors I wanted for my rom com were all actually going to be in the film I had cast them in. That first day was a moment I will never forget.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’m always making mistakes. I’m always learning. I would always call certain equipment by the wrong name and especially because I’m British no-one ever understands what I’m asking for. ‘Can someone please pass me some kitchen towel” no-one understood what I was asking for and they all stared at me. This taught me to never assume anyone knows what I’m talking about. So the detail and description about everything that I need or ask for is imperative to a smooth running set.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

An epic film called “Fled” which is working alongside the production company GlobalWatch. It’s a Tom and Meg Keneally script. As well as a very personal story based on something my daughter went through. She will also act in that and I love working with her. We have written this together and are directing it together. I also have the film based on my published book “Arabella”. Finally I’m excited to be working with Rob Mayes again and Kierston Wareing in a film I’ve written.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Al Pacino was a hero. He was a gentleman and beyond sweet and kind. There is nothing better than meeting heroes in the industry who are so humble. There are also a lot of people that are the polar opposite, they talk a lot but never actually get things done. They are the people in the industry that treat you as if you’re not good enough. It’s important for me to have experienced these people because it reminds me every day to never forget where I’ve come from, or forget the people that help park my car at the restaurants or serve my lunch. It is also a big motivator for me to make sure I never stop on my journey. I love working with anyone that has the same passion for me in this industry, they could be crew members or cast or studio execs. I loved being on set with my daughter, meeting the cast of Once Upon A Time was magical. I will embarrass myself here, but, I cried when I met Lana Parilla. It’s because she represented so much for me. I feel like I connect with her as a person and a character.Obviously meeting any of the greats is also motivating, any directors. Jason Reitman is one of my latest directors. I actually wouldn’t stop shaking his hand. I felt so motivated by watching his work.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I actually think you should burn out. What I mean by that is go with the momentum. Build momentum and go for it. It’s hard work and tenacity. Once you’re at a place where you’ve built a career then you can even-out your work life balance. Then it’s important to prioritize as well as elevate what you’re doing, constantly striving for something better.

You are a person of great 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. 🙂

An educational outreach program where every film set has to have a certain amount of people that are being mentored and having real life experience. Not in a school and not special events but actually during real life shooting. That is the ethos behind my production company Mother and Daughter Entertainment. I ensure every set has people learning from other people. I’m constantly learning, not just from people that have more experience but also newbies. They have a lot to offer. I also feel movies should be encouraged to have a certain non profit section that allows this to happen. It is about making money so we can make the next project, however I want to ensure that money is used to help others.

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

People can offer advice, however I do believe we are all on our own journeys and so the advice needs to be generic as I wouldn’t want to influence someone else’s path.

I’m glad I’ve had my journey as I’ve learned on the way and found my own route.

Thank you so much for your great insights!

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