Ellena’s first job in TV was as a runner on chat show, Trisha, where she was sent into a room full of contributors and told to keep them chatting – it was actually useful training for a documentary maker! Knowing she was fascinated by people and their stories, Ellena worked her way up from researcher to self-shooting documentary director.
She was then invited by the BBC to direct and produce Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia, which appealed to her because it was an opportunity to take a subject that people think they understand and present it in a new way. Having undertaken a lengthy research process, and gaining the trust of the contributors, nothing surprised her anymore. But she was still taken aback by the profound impact the documentary made. Ellena was staying at a Premier Inn on another shoot when she discovered the documentary had been nominated for a BAFTA – ‘I literally jumped out of bed and bounced up and down, it was just so exciting it got that level of recognition.'
Ellena is open about the challenges and frustrations she faces smashing the glass ceiling as a female director, and points to a lot of subtle sexism around assumptions men are intrinsically better at shooting. She feels the mentorship she will receive from BAFTA Breakthrough Brits has come at exactly the right time, and hopes it will make a real impact on her career as she looks into different ways of making films.