We sat down virtually with Ella, one half the host for We Wanna Make A Podcast, media and film maker, writer, and artist, to talk their art and their love for John Carpenter’s The Thing!
Monster Thoughts: How was it starting your podcast, We Wanna Make A Podcast, and what motivated you to want to start one?
Ella: You know, it’s funny because I’d been wanting to make a podcast for a while now. I actually made one before WWMAP (which I pronounce as Wah-map) with another friend – shout out to Sandyra and the late Sanely Insane pod! That previous one didn’t make it past a few episodes because we didn’t have the technology. All we had was a MacBook, and FaceTime or Zoom wasn’t really a big thing you did back when we were attempting to make the show (circa 2014/2015). For WWMAP it just started during the pandemic, in part because Zoom and FaceTiming became so prevalent in the first year of it. It was in the early phase when we were like a month or so into quarantining that I decided I’d just go for it. I had just lost my main job to the pandemic (and would lose my second job later) so it seemed like “what do I have to lose?”
Then I was looking for a friend to join me and my friend/co-host Kristen kinda stepped forward and then we were bouncing ideas off each other. In terms of actually starting the show, we just used Zoom at first to call each other and record us talking. Then we eventually used our various Apple products to record for a slightly better sound quality. Currently we’re working on getting proper mics. So that’s kinda where and how we started and where we’re heading.
MT: As a fellow podcaster I followed a similar route to starting mine. So you’re a filmmaker–what are some of your films if they’re available for consumption and how do you like the process of creating and writing films?
Ella: So I have only made documentaries thus far. I don’t know that I have earned the title of “Filmmaker” quite yet, but I know I’ll get there. My two films are short Docs – one is about ten minutes long and a class project, On The Subway. I worked on it during the early days of the pandemic. The other was my thesis project for grad school, Bound To Kink. They are both available on YouTube. In terms of the process of creating films, because I work within the realm of documentaries rather than traditional Film or TV (though I do hope to dabble one day), it’s a bit different. With a documentary, there is still a story being told – and that story doesn’t even necessarily need to be based on truth or fact – but you are following the story and putting the pieces together of the story and what you are trying to say through editing. Theatrical or cinematic film is a bit more creative in that you can make the story into what you want it to be and there doesn’t have to be any truth involved.
Not to say that documentaries aren’t creative – they absolutely are! There is just a big difference in the type of work you do for a documentary and a theatrical film. What they have in common though, and what I love is the writing that is involved, whether that’s the interview questions for a documentary or a screenplay for a film. The writing is such an essential part of each, and at my core I am a writer so that’s where I feel my skill really shows.
As far as the process goes, I’m not sure I can really speak to that as I finished Bound To Kink last year by myself- so none of the usual people who would have been involved in a documentary like a director, producers or even editors were involved- it was just me wearing all the hats. Which is not how documentaries usually work, it’s just how I had to work under the constraints of the pandemic. So I hope to get to experience how a proper documentary production set is run for myself one day. Which sounds probably strange to say, but it’s true. I hope I get to see how everything works and not have to do it all by myself.
MT: As someone who has her hand in many pots as well, I can relate to wanting to know things would be if I weren’t doing things alone. Have you found being an artistic person, sharing your art online freeing in that you get to share them with the world, or have you found it stifling a bit, in the sense that others don’t understand it or something similar? How do you deal with feelings on either end?
Ella: It’s definitely a double edged sword. Because, yes there is a lot of freedom in sharing and posting your art online or social media. There’s the chance you go viral, or your work can become widespread. But there’s so many issues that I encounter. For example, I recently drew a sketch for Inktober of Freddy Mercury. I posted it to my IG and I got like…12 likes. Which, I’m not complaining about my like count necessarily, but it’s like, you can do everything to encourage engagement (using hashtags, posting at certain times during the day, etc.,) and because of the algorithm no one really sees your work.
It doesn’t help being black, queer, femme and disabled because people like me get buried on social media by algorithms in favor of the whiter, straighter, able bodied people. Then there’s the shadow banning and blatant disregard for BIPOC creators on these platforms. The abuse and harassment from trolls. And it’s frustrating because I already have hurdles in terms of my place in the world. In the virtual world of social media platforms where everyone should be equal, we are very much not. So I find that aspect very stifling.
I don’t know what the answer is because not using the Internet or social media is kind of not an option if you hope you get your work out there. But at the same time, social media is clearly not good for us and doing us harm. I haven’t figured out how to deal with this conundrum, so mostly I just complain and post my art anyway, haha.
MT: I feel you. I think we all do this to express ourselves and just make it through the unfairness. Switching gears for a sec, what’s your favorite horror movie? Why that one?
I LOVE The Thing (the 1984 remake). I know it verges on sci-fi rather than traditional horror movie, but hear me out. First of all, it’s Carpenter, who’s kinda unbeatable in terms of horror. Second of all, the effects are creepy as hell. I think that’s what makes the film still hold up to this day, the fact that they used stop motion and practical effects instead of digital effects. Throw in the isolation of the Antarctic and the paranoia and mistrust of the crew in the situation, and you’ve got a recipe for what I consider to be one of the most psychologically terrifying films out there.
MT: I’m gonna be honest, I watched The Thing years ago and it didn’t do too much for me that I remember, but I may have to give it another shot. Favorite thing about spooky season?
Ella: I just love everything about this time of the year! The thinning of the veil, the colder weather, the festivals. Pumpkin everything. But I think my ultimate favorite thing is watching all the new and old horror movies, either alone or with friends.
MT: Hell yeah, it’s all so mystical and magical! I want to thank you for sharing your time with us and creating your art!
Ella’s subject matter is whatever inspires them at the moment; nature, social issues, beauty, street art, etc. They utilize whatever tool is available whether that is through ink, pencil, canvas, paint, media/film, or photography. Ella seeks to make audiences “stop and think,” even if only for a mere moment to contemplate the work before them.
While art is sometimes seen as a skill that requires perfection, with little to no opportunities for correction, Ella hopes that their work shows the imperfections, the deviations and ugly scars behind the beauty. As they grow and develop their skill and sense of style, Ella hopes to create art that refers back to their beginnings artistically while carving space for growth and change. They believe as an artist, it is vital that they see and document what they experience, in the hopes of finding beauty even in rare spaces.
You can find Ella at any of their links below!