Alumni Profile: Elizabeth Ellis 08F
Elizabeth Ellis 08F found inspiration in a moment of consternation.
“I was working on a documentary theater piece for my Division III (senior) project. I worked tirelessly on it, and it was driving me insane. I could not track down interviewees,” she says. “Meanwhile, I was writing comedy sketches, usually just for fun, because I was so wound up.”
In a moment of frustration, Ellis showed her comedy sketches to roommate Charles Pope 07F. His response was swift: “He rolled the paper up and (jokingly) hit me with it,” Ellis says. Pope encouraged Ellis to use her written comedy sketches for her project and abandon the frustrating documentary.
Ellis seized the opportunity and wrote a season of what would become a web show called WRECKED.
The show, which premiered on October 15, unveiled new episodes every Monday until November 19. The production was made with the help of several Hampshire alums: Pope, Sean Mulroy 06F, Maia Jacoby 08F, Owen Granhich-Young 02F, Nathaniel Buechler 08F, and Daniel Gilbert 02F.
WRECKED tells the story of Spencer, who is unemployed and has been forced to move in with her estranged brother. In the pilot episode, the viewer watches as Spencer struggles to gain employment, doomed by her own honesty in interviews.
The dialogue in the pilot between Spencer and her best friend, Thomas, is unfiltered by design, Ellis says. “It’s how I talk, it’s how my friends talk. You don’t hear realistic dialogue on television, it’s so bizarre, and you talk about that all the time with your friends and co-workers and that voice doesn’t get heard in the media.”
Ellis says her Hampshire education provided her with the initiative to set out on her own as an independent filmmaker. “At Hampshire, when I wanted to make the show, I didn’t ask anyone for permission, and I didn’t ask anyone how to do it. I went and found that information and did it myself. I knew what I wanted to do, read enough to understand the principles behind it, got some more people together and said ‘Okay, this is what it takes,’” she says. “I didn’t plug into someone else’s formula, I found the tools myself and did it.”
Ellis and her production company, Honey Toad Studio, has launched a Kickstarter, an online website that allows users to donate money to help creative projects get funded. Websites like Kickstarter offer a new dynamic between the creator and their audience, Ellis says: “The show they donate to is creatively licensed, so the audience owns it. We’re trying to create a new relationship. People donate, watch the show, care about the show, are the reason the show gets to be the on the air.”
Watch Wrecked here >>