"Sugar Plum" (docu short)

Elle Ginter


1) How did you get into directing? 
I’ve always known I wanted to direct, but really valued the idea of working my way up. I started out on set, working my way from a PA to second and then first AC. Three years ago, I changed my focus to learn the pitch process. Those three years included intense amounts of writing, visualizing and art directing that put me through the fire of conceptualization, team building and communicating specific visions in the clearest possible way. I was privileged to collaborate with some amazing directors and brands, and shifted naturally into directing on my own from there and exercising my own unique voice.

2) What is your most recent project? 
I recently released a short film focusing on a young man who struggles with chronic depression. “Why We Wake” was written based on true moments and feelings relayed to me by members of the film community who had experienced seasons of diagnosed depression. In my 7 years in the industry, I felt this was a silently rampant issue, so my goal for the project was to reach people struggling with that subject and simply communicate that they are not alone. I received countless emails from strangers affirming this, so thankfully I feel that the film resonated well.

3) What is the best part of being a director? 
In my opinion, the best part of being a director is the opportunity to lead by example and mentor those on your team along the way. I really don’t feel that I’m in it for myself. The film and commercial industry needs as many people of outstanding character and equally outstanding work as it can get, and as a director, a leader, I really enjoy the opportunity to contribute in that area of mentorship and create great work with a group of people, not just on my own.

4) What is the worst part of being a director? 
I honestly think that the worst part of being a director is the schedule that one must keep up with at times. In a market saturated with directors, there can be a self-imposed pressure to remain relevant by working at full-speed constantly, never passing on projects and comparison (the creativity killer).  Keeping a strong work / life balance and maintaining a sense of self is invaluable to creating consistent work.

5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
My career focus currently is commercials and branded content. While I would love to visit the television or movie space eventually, I believe that everything I’m doing in commercials and branded content builds a strong stepping stone to future avenues. I thoroughly enjoy the :30 to three minute world and tend to lean toward drama, with subtle humor mixed in.

6) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I’m passionate about mentoring others but I don’t have a specific mentor myself. I do consider every director and producer I’ve pitched with in the past a mentor of sorts.  They’ve taught me to lead with integrity and to make the process a team effort no matter how big or small the team is. That is a piece of advice that really does resonate most with me. No one is an island, and doing things on your own long-term isn’t normally sustainable.

7) Who is your favorite director and why? 
In the commercial world, I’m visually and conceptually inspired by Martin de Thurah’s work, as many others are I’m sure. Overall though, I’m a huge fan of Kathryn Bigelow. The way that she explores gender and racial politics in her work is extremely inspiring and let’s just say it: she’s a huge badass as well.

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
My favorite movie is Spike Jonze’s “Her.”  My favorite television program changes by the month but (sorry, can’t lie) is currently “Silicon Valley.” I’ve never laughed so hard at a show before. If I had to choose for visual/conceptual purposes it would be “House of Cards.” My favorite commercial is hard to choose, but I’ll pick Martin de Thurah’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down,” done for Hennessy.

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in upstate NY and moved to Boston after school to pursue sports reporting. The 2008 recession didn’t help that goal, so I worked on a whale watching boat there. That led to meeting the casting director of Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” and doing extra work, then PA’ing features for the next year. I went on to work at a rental house and freelance as an AC.  I found a home for awhile as a writer/visualist working at a commercial production company in NYC and finally now, am a freelancer again in the directing arena. I’ve worked my way very untraditionally through the system.