BELLA documentary for Vogue.com

https://www.vogue.com/article/bella-thorne-documentary?mbid=social_facebook

I almost passed on this job due to my own preconceptions about who Bella Thorne is, preconceptions that have been created by institutions outside of her control and that many of us (wrongly) share. 


Upon meeting her, I was immediately struck by the compassion and intelligence of this 20 year old young woman and why I had allowed myself to believe what I had believed. That in itself was the story I wanted to tell: to challenge the audience's assumptions by laying bare the truth about a remarkable savvy young woman coming of age, building her own brand for the first time in her life while simultaneously engaging in a very controlled rebellion.


Bella was open, vulnerable and so much fun. After six weeks together, I left with a tear in my eye. Her charm and that of the people around her seduced me, and I hope this honest presentation of who she is (and who they are) does the same to the audience.

IMG_7120.JPG
IMG_7457.JPG
IMG_8412.JPG

Its Time - A short film for Lenny Letter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2jXkCc-80w

This past year has been quite the education for me: a political education. I have learned, listened, debated (and saw Hamilton!) and like many, I’ve found myself immersed in this year’s election and American politics in general with one small difference, I can't vote! I knew I had to do something to exercise my voice in a way I know how, that would be my vote (and if it wasn't clear already #imwithher!).  

Shortly after the conventions my partner told me about a conversation he had just had with his 98-year-old grandmother. She was reflecting on what she has seen in her near century on earth and just how excited she was to cast her first vote for a women President. The seed was planted. I wanted to make a film that amplified a voice we don't hear from often, a female voice like my partners grandmother that had a plethora of experiences - a reality check on how far we’ve come but just how far we still have to go.

Quite literally within a day, I had called my amazing friends at Dirty Robber and we pulled this together in little over a week. My good friend Michael Beaudry took me to local retirement homes as well as conducted an online search that led us to incredible women with amazing diverse stories.

The thing that struck me the most when interviewing these women was that despite whatever they had been through, - whatever the systematic oppression they faced – they remained empowered in the face of it.  I was reminded that this election is not just about choosing the right candidate, but just as it was with Obama, it’s an enormous opportunity to announce to the world that – as Aretha said in the film – “we as women have finally arrived” and that we have always been strong enough.

As a British Citizen, I was lucky enough to grow up around people who had exposure to female leaders, and I was raised by an amazingly strong woman myself. Probably in part because of that, at twenty-one, I jumped at the chance to try and become a Hollywood director, in what still is predominately a man's world. As such, this film is as much a reflection of the reality of gender in America yesterday and today as it is a reminder to young women to fight, to grab the bull by the horns on behalf of all of the women who came before us.

 

"You see, while our mothers and grandmothers were often powerless to change their circumstances, today, we as women have all the power we need to determine the outcome of this election." Michelle Obama

 

The shoot was emotional and humbling and also my first experience working with a majority female crew. When we were shooting Marcia Nasatir (the first female vice president at motion picture studio… seriously cool, I know!) I noticed her eyes watering. I was worried that the lights were too bright, but no, she whispered to my amazing producer Avrielle that the whole crew looking back at her was female. While Avrielle and I can't claim that was deliberate, the fact of it and Marcia’s reaction made it doubly worth it. Here was a woman who bore the burden of being a first, a women on whose shoulders we all stand, and for a moment, we got to watch her watch us, and she knew that it was all worth it. 

   (From left to right, 1st AC Briana Del Giorno, Sound Mixer Kathryn Korniloff, Director of Photography Janine Sides, myself, Kate Hagen from the Black List who is a badass and leant herself as production support, Gaffer Katie Walker, Makeup Artist Cara Liedlich, Producer Avreille Gallagher & Superstar Editor Aimee Durant not pictured.)

(From left to right, 1st AC Briana Del Giorno, Sound Mixer Kathryn Korniloff, Director of Photography Janine Sides, myself, Kate Hagen from the Black List who is a badass and leant herself as production support, Gaffer Katie Walker, Makeup Artist Cara Liedlich, Producer Avreille Gallagher & Superstar Editor Aimee Durant not pictured.)

So to all you women out there wherever in the world you may be, enjoy these women's words and wisdom, and fight on! Frankly, its time! 

And lastly thank you to everyone who made this vision come to life, and of course, thank you to Lena - thank you for giving my voice a voice.

All my love,

Emma x