The Betrayal

Ellen Kuras

How did you get into directing?
With a vision to make films that can be emotional and visual yet inspire change, I first stepped into the film world as a 24 year-old director of a documentary, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which was later nominated for a Spirit and an Academy Award.  Even when I moved deeper into cinematography as more people saw my work and asked me to work with them, I always kept my hand in directing by continuing to work on my film. Now I feel like I’ve come full circle again to speak as the director and as well as a DP. Why now?  Having finished my own film, I want to pursue a certain desire to create more than visual metaphor. I want to shape the whole story—using sound as metaphor, editing as punctuation and the imagery as a way to show us new ways of seeing and telling stories.

What is your most recent project?
Just finished directing/shooting two spots for TARGET with Wieden + Kennedy. Great experience, great people.  Funny that in the midst of all the hair/makeup/wardrobe/casting/ location prep, I suddenly stopped when asked what film stock we were ordering….”Oh yes, the film stock!”  Being able to open up ideas when talking directly to the entire creative team—the production keys, the agency and clients—opened up my mind in a wholly new way. I really feel inspired to continue this work.

What is the best part of being a director?
Getting to drive to set with the producer. And besides riding the wave of everything happening at once, I love the thrill of listening to a track that works with the images, and makes the story resonate, I love the moment when the editor finds the right beat, the right moment to cut out or to cut in, I love the feeling that we’ve come to learn something about our own lives in 60, or in 30 seconds, and if we’re lucky, in 15.