Elyse Niblett-Russell is a director and actress, known for The Broken Ones (2018) and Her (2018). She is the co-founder of a film production company “Twisted Valley Films”.
1. For the people who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Elyse Niblett-Russell and I am a director and a producer.
2. How did you know you wanted to become involved in the entertainment industry?
I grew up dancing ballet, performing and writing. So I’ve always been a storyteller. But in college, I was on a lot of film sets as an actor and I just fell in love with everything about how films bring stories to life. I took editing, producing and screenwriting classes and by the time I graduated I didn’t want to be in front of the camera, I wanted to be behind it.
3. As a producer and director, how do you encourage people on set to achieve their best potential?
I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. I want to be respected and have my voice heard. When you involve people in a project like that, they are much more motivated to collaborate, hustle hard and help tell the best possible version of the story. I also find a sense of humor helpful. There are so many things that can go wrong on a daily basis on a film set so on certain occasions, if you are able to laugh at it, then you can move on, refocus and continue the work.
4. What was the idea behind “Twisted Valley Films” and how did you get started?
I started working with Cece King back in 2014 on the feature film “The Broken Ones” and from the beginning, we realized we were some of the only women on set. When Cece and I started searching for female filmmakers we found them – SO many of them. So it’s not that they don’t exist. They’re out there, and we want to work with them! Past that, just as a moviegoer, I need more nuanced and complex female characters in my life. So Twisted Valley Films was born.
5. Who would you love to work with on a project?
Lynne Ramsay who directed “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and Dee Rees who directed “Mudbound”. Both films, so different, but so emotionally connected, so viscerally present within their worlds. They left me in awe. It would be an honor to even just be on a set and watch these women work.
6. Do you have any advice for people who want to get started in the entertainment industry?
Don’t take no for an answer because there are so many ways in which you can get a movie done in this day and age so never give up. You have a right to tell your story. Embrace your vision.
7. What is one film that inspired you the most?
“28 Days Later” was one of the first films I watched that really struck me. It is a horror film with a love story and the balance between the horror and the honest connection happening between the two leads was so well done. The juxtaposition between the chaos and the connection was incredible. The cinematography is stunning, I had never seen anything like it. I saw this years ago but to this day it still inspires me so much.
8. If you had the opportunity to remake any movie, which would it be?
“28 days” with Sandra Bullock. The film focuses on a woman forced to deal with her alcoholism in a rehabilitation center. I actually really love this film. But I would want to steer away from the tropes like the “gay man”, “the jock”. I understand why they did this to outline the fact that no one is immune to addiction. I would want to take those characters and go more in-depth with them.
9. What is the best thing about creating your own content?
You have no idea how many people might be going through the same things that you want to portray. I felt some of the most profound comfort from watching films and relating to the characters on-screen. However out-there the story is, there is an audience for you and, as artists, we have a duty to present our stories. Stories bring people together.
10. What is one mistake that most filmmakers do, regardless of experience?
The people who you pick to work with are crucial. They become your tribe so finding people who are interested in the story, past being good at what they do, is something I’m personally finding more and more important. You spend so many hours together working on set you need to be sure you are surrounded by people who lift your story up, who believe in it.
11. Do you have anything to say to your supporters and the supporters of Twisted Valley Films?
Creating content of any kind is risky, sometimes terrifying, definitely heart wrenching. I feel so lucky to be as supported as I’ve been with my friends and especially my family. I couldn’t do this, any of this, without them. I hope my work gives some solace in some way. If I knew it did for even one person, that’d be enough for me.
Thank you so much to Elyse for the interview. I am so inspired by her work as a director, producer and the way she brought “Twisted Valley Films” to life along with Cece King. You can find her and her work on IMDb, Instagram, and Facebook.