When it comes to representation of the LGBTQ+ community, we still have a long ways to go. Even with mainstream films such as Love Simon, Call Me By Your Name and a handful of others released over the past few years, the film industry still lacks LGBTQ stories. And that is exactly what a new wave of young filmmakers is trying to tackle. One of the most refreshing short films I’ve seen is Bubble Gum, directed, shot and written by 15-year-old Ella Fields, a videographer and photographer from LA.
Bubble Gum follows a girl named Indigo who falls in love with a girl named Blossom. The only issue is that Indigo is straight. When I first watched Bubble Gum when it was released during Pride Month, I fell in love with the characters. Fields doesn't make a stereotypical, dramatic big thing about two girls falling in love with each other — even though neither of them explicitly says that they are gay. Fields found a way to bring seriousness to the two main characters, while also making the love between the two seem as normal as heterosexual representation in movies.
YR Media's Aria Bendy spoke to Fields about making Bubble Gum and what it’s like being a young filmmaker producing queer content.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Aria Bendy: I just want to say thank you because I’ve been actually watching your films for a really long time. What inspired you to start making films?
Ella Fields: No way, that’s awesome! So, I've always kind of been into filmmaking for almost as long as I can remember. Around when I was 6, my dad got my sister and me this camera that we used. And we would just mess around with it. Most of my inspiration comes from the feeling that it gives me when I make the film, because it is my passion and it is what I love most.
Aria: I love seeing you grow on YouTube ‘cause it’s just like you always top yourself with every film. What goals do you have with making films?
Ella: I think the main goal that I have when creating any film, no matter what it's about, is to show people that they can speak up. I just want to take as much advantage as I can of this voice that I have and this platform that I have in order to show how I'm feeling about the world and how I view it.
Aria: Where did you come up with the concept for Bubble Gum?
Ella: Basically what I wanted to show with Bubble Gum was that really, really confusing process of trying to understand your sexuality and come to terms with it. One thing that I realized recently is that sexuality is never black and white. I just wanted to show that there are in-between lines and you can identify as one thing, but then there can be exceptions and then you can change your identity...Sexuality is such a fluid thing and I just want to represent that.
Aria: What responses did you get from the film Bubble Gum?
Ella: I got a lot of people saying that this is actually exactly how they felt when going through any of these stages in their life. I've also had some people saying that the film helped them come to terms with anything that they were feeling, or their sexuality, and that just made me feel really good ‘cause that’s exactly what I was trying to do with Bubble Gum.
Aria: How do you think the film industry can push itself to create more films like yours that represent queer people?
Ella: I think that the more content that is put out there, it'll eventually start to catch-on and it will become more normalized. Because I want [there] to become a time when [a film like Bubble Gum] doesn't have to be labeled as like an LGBTQ film. I’m hoping that eventually it can get to the point where it is just a film about life and things that people go through and I am just a director and not a female director. I think people will start to see it as more of a normal thing, and not such a scary or different thing.
Aria: What challenges have you faced being such a young filmmaker?
Ella: I mean being a young filmmaker is definitely difficult because there are a lot of things that I'm still not able to do because of my age and I get discredited sometimes because of my age. I know that this is something that a lot of Gen Z people have a problem with. Sometimes from older generations, it can be just like, "Oh you don’t know what you're talking about...you haven't been on this Earth as long as us." So being a young filmmaker is really, really tricky for me -- to find a place for myself in this business. But I have the tools that I need to make films that matter to me right now. So I’m trying to find the beauty and the freedom that I have at this moment.
Aria: What advice would you give to people that want to start making films or narratives of their own?
Ella: Okay, and this is such a cheesy piece of advice, but I feel it's so true. One of the most important things to remember is that you're not going to be good at first and that's kind of just the way that it is. It's impossible to start out and be the best you can right at the beginning. So I think my biggest piece of advice is just to go write a story and start creating things and don’t have any expectations for it.