To find out what it’s like to come of age as a Gen Z, look no further than the films created by 18-year-old Ella Fields.
Fields, from Los Angeles, has created more than 30 short films, which uses elements of magic and fantasy to tell stories of love and identity. She’s won international film festival awards for her films, which have garnered millions of views on YouTube.
Her film "Stereo" about reversed gender stereotypes has reached over 10 million views. "Bubble Gum," which has reached over three million views, was a story about a girl who had a crush on another girl but was in denial about her sexuality.
Stories like “Bubble Gum” highlight the kind of gap Fields is aiming to fill in film amid a time where there are many people creating online content. She works to use her platform as a space to tell more stories about queer people and their experiences.
“YouTube is a place that people turn to see representations of themselves that maybe they aren’t getting in the mainstream media as much as they should be,” she said. “Hopefully moving forward, I hope to continue this authentic telling of queer stories by queer people in a mainstream media perhaps.”
The lifelong filmmaker said some of her most recent work explores nostalgia and a concept of “having access to all versions of ourselves throughout time.” That interest stems from having easy access to her childhood through photos and having lived in the same house her whole life.
The concept was illustrated in her recent film “Over the Moon” about a girl spending last night in childhood bedroom before she goes to college. The girl finds a box of her old children's books that helps her connect with past experiences. That story was somewhat inspired by Field’s move from her Los Angeles home to Emerson College in Boston.
She credits her 15-year-old sister Taya for her ability to make films. The sisters would always work on projects together, with Taya volunteering as a willing actress.
“I don’t think I would have been able to find filmmaking if it hadn’t been for her and it's a really important part of our relationship and I think it's something that made us really close as well,” she said.
Fields said she has sometimes struggled with the fear of not being able to live up to her previous success. That fear comes with almost every project she begins, but right when the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, she felt it made her lose her passion for filmmaking. But at that moment, she took the time she spent at home to try out different forms of art like painting, puppetry, photography and collaging.
“Actually by doing that it enhanced my love for film and made me miss it and I was able to reapproach filmmaking from more of a multimedia and experimental perspective and incorporate these other forms into my films,” she said.
Her advice for novice filmmakers - and for everyone - is to use filmmaking as a tool to step outside their comfort zone.
“Be present for the moments that you feel alive, even if that’s a difficult moment, notice how it feels and how it could play into a bigger picture and use the difficult times as inspiration to create something from it,” she said.
She thinks the film industry will continue to be more diverse into the future in terms of race and gender. But she also hopes soon there will be more movies that become “new classics” that are up to date with the way people think.
“I really hope a wider variety of stories are told more and to be released in a more mainstream way because stories like that exist but are a little more difficult to find,” she said.