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ARGOLIS: An Interview with Ellen Rooney



Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

I was a dancer and choreographer through high school, college, and my early career. As a choreographer, teaching has always been a part of my artistic life, and I continue to aspire to be an artist who engages the audience with the edge of education.


What was your first job in the art field?

I was a dancer and teaching artist with a small modern dance company in New York City called Human Arms.


What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

Telling stories gives hope. I think it is the surprise and unexpected twists and turns in stories which we crave because is gives us the possibility we can change our lives and unexpected things can happen. Classic themes in stories connects us — we find a common ground and a shared understanding of the human experience. In Argolis I enjoy the challenge of bringing a modern style to ancient myths in order to make them accessible to a new audience.


Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

The creative process is in itself creative. Ultimately, I am still a choreographer; I see dynamic images of interaction between people and then ask why? How did this come to pass? I love researching into other cultures and history, and placing the logic of human drama into the context of another world.


Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

Anything epic! I love the quest of multiple films accumulating into a spellbinding tale. Ergo, Lord of the Rings to The Hunger Games to The Avengers.


How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

Global audiences, streaming services, and on-demand have changed the industry forever. Our home television is replacing the “old movie house” and Covid escalated that transformation. In our film community, production was completely shut down and we still struggle returning to pre-pandemic levels.


What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

I teach at Cleveland State University, School of Film and Media Arts. I encourage my students and all aspiring artists to follow their inspiration, focus on basic skills, and be a lifetime learner of the art and entertainment industry. Technology has changed our ability to perform, create, and share our creations in ways unimaginable. Always be working on oneself and exploring the world.


Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Yes, I do. Films have been a projection into our future and a re-contextualizing of our past. Futurism in films gives us a world of possibilities. I enjoy watching classic Sci-fi films of the 70s and seeing how they saw the future — right or wrong. Historicism in films can inspire, educate and enlighten people. I believe when films create characters who live a personal experience through historic events; it can change the audience perspective on how they see history and society on deep personal levels.


What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

I believe both streaming services and the pandemic have changed peoples’ tastes and viewing habits. More time and more choices develops a sophisticated audience with diverse view points and interests. Hopefully, this encourages people to watch different genres and opens more international interest in film.


Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I continue to develop the stories for the next trilogy of Argolis. Also, I am working on a stand alone romantic-action feature set in Cleveland.

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