Kelly Fyffe-Marshall. Director, writer and award winning filmmaker. She started out in theatre since then her career has gone from strength to strength with many short films, music videos and web series under her belt. Kelly was recently invited to speak on ‘the power of art and activism’ at Toronto’s TEDx Youth event. Her love of film mixed with her passion for community development, leaves every project she touches impactful. She uses film to change perspectives, share love and write powerful stories. She was born in London, bought up in Canada but shares her time between both. We at Those London Chicks are so pleased Kelly has taken the time out to speak with us.
You as a filmmaker seems like the only place you should be. Did you have any aspirations to do anything else as you were growing up?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be in this industry, but I’ve also wanted to teach and be a humanitarian. What is a blessing about being a director and writer is I am able to do all these things while making films.
It’s award season and the nominations across the board are still showing a distinct lack of female directors. Do you feel there is a glass ceiling when it comes to independently employing female directors in an already fiercely competitive business?
I do agree there is a glass ceiling, but I feel like that is the way the industry is set up. I think that people should employ the best director for the project. Look at the story, what does it need? Do we need to hear the feminine voice in the story? Does it need a softer touch? Does it need balance?
There are films that I watch and I know who directed it because their voice comes through the work. I think if people followed this thought process there would be a lot more films out directed by women and with a lot more diversity.
Have you found things difficult or particularly challenging because of your gender?
I think I’ve had difficulty because I’m young, Black and female. All of these together, including my experience make people intimidated by me. I’ve been mistaken for hair and makeup, for the actress, but no one assumes I’m the director. I also love the idea of being able to prove everyone wrong.
I was turned onto your work when I saw your short “Haven” which was a finalist at Triforce Short Film Festival 2018 held at BAFTA. Amazingly powerful, beautiful film. It said so much in a short time. How important do you feel film is in such troubled times and has that formed part of your filmamking raison d’être?
Thank you, I am very proud of Haven. I believe film is more important now than ever. At a time where content is so readily available, where the world is shifting and people are so hungry for change, it is important that we as filmmakers share messages that are healing, loving and helping us grow compassion for each other. I came to a point in my filmmaking where I thought what was I doing to make change? I decided from then on I would only share messages that would make a change. I would be a part of that shift in consciousness.
You are turning some disturbing experiences into something positive through film. Namely the two-part short films “Black Bodies” and “Marathon”. Tell us about them?
My newest short films Black Bodies and Marathon are about the current societal climate. They are my visual commentaries on what it is like to be Black in the 21st century. ‘Marathon’ is a film that focuses on the never-ending race that people of colour and marginalized communities are perpetually running and ‘Black Bodies’ focuses on some of the devastating impacts that racial injustice results in.
Who or what are your inspirations as a filmmaker?
I’m inspired by everyday life, by my friends, by society. I’m a person who can be sitting drinking tea and be inspired by a conversation I overhear. I like to tell real stories, human stories, stories about the moments in between.
Would you say you have a specific filmmaking style, if so how would you describe it?
I believe my filmmaking style is letting the emotions lead. I think once I let the emotions lead and they form the rest of the project. I really like realism in films, in letting the story feel like art and in letting the camera float through the scene.
You mention in TEDx talk that you manifested it. We at TLC are all about that. What would be the next big dream that you would want to think into fruition.
I love manifesting, my life has been manifestation after manifestation. Next on my list is directing a TV series, both locally and internationally.
What advice would you give to an up and coming filmmaker?
Just do the thing. Write it and film it. It’ll be bad in the beginning but it’ll get better. Just keep doing it, find your style, find your voice, find your love. Then just like that, you’re a filmmaker.
This is a toughie Kelly, but what are your top 3 films?
This is really tough, I love so many films for so many reasons. If I did have to pick it would be Stoker by Chan-Wook Park, Higher Learning by John Singleton and Prisoners by Denis Villeneuve.
Thank you so much for chatting with us Kelly!
Thank you Karen Love + Light
Follow Kelly on Instagram
Interviewed by Karen Bryson
All Images taken by Yvonne Stanley of Elevated Vision