HCA’s Foundation Diploma in Art & Design student Ellis Harvey has been chosen from over thousands of applicants to create a 10-minute documentary film which will be put into production and released on YouTube originals at the start of this year.
Ellis took part in the 2-day virtual film school event which included talks from industry-active guest lecturers. His pitch idea centred around his friend’s experience as a rap artist in the current music industry. Ellis has been awarded £3,000 to make his documentary, and we are looking forward to seeing the final piece.
Congratulations on being selected to make a documentary. What is the documentary about?
The documentary will be following the story of Lid, a gay female rap artist from the UK. The documentary takes us through the journey of her life, past up to present as well as establishing what Lid plans to do in the future. Overall the documentary is meant to be relatable piece of work to others who have gone through hardships at home or in their life, and to inspire others to apply themselves to what they want to do and make something positive out of something negative.
How did you come up with the idea for your documentary?
I had filmed music videos previously for Lid before the opportunity came up and once I was given the brief to formulate and put together our own cast/key talent. I immediately thought of getting Lid involved as we already had that friendly relationship beforehand so I knew this would result is good work ethic on set. I knew that Lid was gay so this rang a bell when thinking of ideas because it is an area that is heavily under reported in the rap scene.
Which film school did you pitch your idea to and what was the process for pitching?
I pitched the final idea to a mixture of people from ‘Livity’ as well as YouTube Originals. The pitching process was essentially figuring out how to convey my idea and vision for this documentary in a short span, you have 5 minutes to sell your idea, choosing which parts to tell, key information and themes so that the judges could get an idea for what I was visioning without it actually being filmed.
How much time are you given to film the documentary? What are the challenges around this and how do you overcome them?
Overall for filming I had just over a month to start capturing footage for the documentary, as well as making relevant trips to London and Brighton to film footage that was going to be orientated around those locations. I split the documentary into 3 parts to make it more manageable. The challenge at the start was definitely thinking where to start. I had X,Y, Z and the rest to capture, that’s why I found It useful to break it into smaller manageable parts. As I’m normally a music video director or editor this made the project more like filming 3 music videos in terms of size and time so that definitely helped me.
When will your documentary air and on what platforms?
The documentary is to air on LinkUpTV (@1.9 Million subscribers) in early January 2021, so it will be a bright and promising way to start of the new year. After a year of everything being up in the air, I feel I couldn’t really get a better send off into 2021 than this.
Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up and did this impact your interests? What were your hobbies and interests?
I originally grew up in Pershore, but for the majority of my life I have been living in Leominster, a small rural town. This definitely impacted what I’m doing, I feel as if there is always room for growth and for me, eventually making it out of Leominster to bigger cities and/or countries appeals to me in terms of my professional growth.
My interests have always been listening to music, as it was a massive part of my life before the videos and still is today. I connect with music in a way that I can’t really compare with anything else. As for hobbies I was always trying to figure out what I could do, what could I be? In a sense I really just spent time trying to find the ideal path for me. I have also spent years struggling with mental health and this most definitely impacted me as a person and it has affected me in so many ways, positive to negative. To be honest I’m grateful for it as it gave me motivation to do this and create something when I was going through hardships.
Did you always love film making / What got you into film making?
I have always been watching music videos since I can remember, finding out more about music. I was inspired by seeing all these creatives making really short films, with music instead of narration from a young age. As I have always liked music, this just seemed the dream job, to be involved music, but not having to preform or sing. I can be with the artists and learn, work with and for them. That’s one of the best parts, is when you have a collection of creative minds working together, you can really make something special.
I loved watching films when I was a child and remember seeing some of the CGI that was being done, before I knew all about how it was done, I remember thinking “wow! how did they do that”. Curiosity and interest played a huge part in my inspirations.
Which film has inspired you the most?
The film “Blue Story” was very inspiring, despite it being relatively new, I had never seen a film like it, or at least coming out of the UK. The film paints the real picture of London and the ins and outs to what goes on, regarding knife crime, gang violence, poverty etc. The reason why is because it was directed and wrote by Rapman, an iconic figure in the UK music scene. I feel that more often than not governments like to blame all knife crime, gang crime on either music, or something else which is a result of the environment, not the cause. In the understanding that these crimes and wars have been going on for decades and we aren’t really looking at the true cause, just what is easier to blame. I cannot relate what so ever to having to carry a knife every day in fear of being stabbed. Although these stories are morbid, they are real and deserved to be told. It has also created a lot of jobs for people and brought communities together, so definitely Blue story for me has been a huge inspiration for me.
Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?
Cole Bennett from Lyrical Lemonade, that guy is my inspiration! He was the first music video director I really started researching, watching interviews and all of that. His videos always have their own unique style to them, you can tell a video is by Cole Bennett when you see it. I loved that he has such a unique and distinguishable style in his videos and that was what brought him a lot of his success, I have a poster of his brand in my bedroom if we really want to talk about how much he influenced me!
Do you have any other upcoming projects?
Yes of course, I’m always working, networking or trying to find out where the next piece of work is. At the moment I am starting to build up a list of people who come to me regularly for work, for now I just want to keep building that list up so I can go full time.
Do you have any advice for young film makers like yourself?
Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do it. Cliché? Yes. But true. I never thought I would be where I am, doing what I do with the people I work with, but I applied myself to what I wanted to do and now I have made all of this progression in under 2 years.
Why did you decide to study Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at HCA?
I decided to study the course because I knew I wasn’t ready for university yet, not as in I didn’t have the grades too, I do. I just had a feeling that this coming was going to be big for E02, I was already working a fair bit and I didn’t want to just cut down a client list before its even built up. I took FA to still be learning and expanding my creative practice. I then found this opportunity which I wouldn’t have been able to do as well as uni work, so it was a really good middle ground.
What are your experiences of the course?
Honestly I would like to say that HCA really has been the best college I could’ve went too, they care about the pupils and are understanding. I’m not always easy, sometimes I need to cool off and be in my own head for a bit, HCA knew this and we communicated well and they would be aware of my mood and never hassled me for needing some time out.
As well as this they were also incredibly supportive of what I was doing and shared it with others, that made me feel good because my E02 work and my college work overlapped perfectly.
What do you like most about it?
The way they teach, we get given a brief and then a set time to do it, you go off and do it. None of this being sat in a classroom for 3 hours, I can’t do that, I don’t learn like that I switch off. So for me just the way we actually work was really refreshing and by far the best teaching I’ve had. It allows me to get on and do what I do, without someone watching over your shoulder and definitely feels more mature.
To see more work from Ellis and to follow his future projects visit:
YouTube: E02 VISUALS