Young director enchants Flickerfest with teenage anxiety film


21 Jan 2021




Young director enchants Flickerfest with teenage anxiety film

21 Jan 2021

This Saturday, short film,Ella, which was directed by SAE Creative Media Institute Sydney graduate, Madison Novak, will have its premiere at the 30th international short film festival, Flickerfest

The film will be in contention for Best Australian Short Film and a coveted spot at the 93rd Academy awards later this year. Produced with fellow SAE graduate, Reggie Grace-Knipe, it addresses the trials and tribulations of anxious high school student Ella and the obstacles she faces as she prepares to speak publicly in class.

“In the film, Ella goes through all the little details that make her anxious, from phone calls to driving, and goes on this journey of how she’ll overcome them,” Madison said.

The Black Dog Institute has reported that 40 per cent of students in Year 12 have had symptoms of anxiety and depression that are higher than the normal level for that age group. Ella explores this theme and reflects Madison’s own life experiences. 

“In the past, I’ve had this overwhelming anxiety, presenting in a classroom setting, so that was the main inspiration for the film.

“Even though anxiety is a serious subject, I work best through humour - so the film has a comedic element to it. I felt if the film was too deep, it may make it hard for the audience to connect with the characters,” Madison said.

Producer Reggie echoed Madison’s sentiments, saying he hoped audiences would identify with the characters. “Life is awkward and Ella symbolises many people’s experiences. Madison and I had seen a lot of films that deal with mental illness, so we wanted to take it in a different direction,” Reggie said.

Up-and-coming actress Madelaine Hopkins, who plays the title character, said she was attracted to the project due to its fresh take on mental illness. 

“I fell in love with Ella straight away as I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, including at high school,” she said.

“The comedic theme that runs through the film is a really genuine way of portraying the reality of anxiety. Humour is a great coping mechanism, as life is never just one thing - it's both light and dark,” Madelaine said.

With the film up for the Academy-qualifying award for Best Australian Short Film, Madison hasn’t let herself think about Ellabeing selected for the Oscars. “I didn’t even think I’d be recognised to be at a film festival, let alone have a chance to be featured at the Academy awards -  that would be amazing.”

Flickerfest is Australia’s leading Academy accredited and BAFTA-recognised competitive Australian and International Short Film Festival with thousands of entries coming from filmmakers across the globe. SAE Creative Institute is a proud partner of Flickerfest, with the festival taking place from 22-31 January at Bondi Beach, Sydney.


saecrew community

The #saecrew is made up of professional staff, lecturers, tutors, students and graduates representing facets of the creative media industries and beyond.

SAE offers courses in Animation, Audio & Music, Creative Industries, Design, Film, Games and Virtual Reality. We also offer Postgraduate certificates, diplomas, and a master's program.

If you are interested in a future in the creative industries, why not join the #saecrew.
Check out the different ways to connect with SAE or free call SAE on 1800 723 338.

Enquire now

book a tour