Sunday, August 7, 2016

New Channel 4 teenage drama Ellen

Jessica Barden stars in Ellen, a new feature length single drama from Channel 4, developed as part of Channel 4’s commitment to new talent, and marking the debut of breakthrough UK female talent: writer Sarah Quintrell and director Mahalia Belo.

23 year old Jessica (represented by Curtis Brown), one of Screenterrier's original teenage rising stars, was most recently seen in BBC Two's one-hour drama Murder, as well as award-winning feature The Lobster.

The new 90-minute film is a powerful, prescient story of a tough teenager, 14 year old Ellen, trying to take control of her chaotic life, but forced to grow up too quickly. 

Newcomer Yasmin Monet Prince stars as Kayla, who is befriended by Ellen and becomes a form of escape. The pair form a deep friendship with the kind of unshakable intensity forged by teenage girls. But just as she’s discovered a sense of fun and freedom with Kayla.

Skins and Game of Thrones star, Joe Dempsie (represented by Troika) plays Jason, who challenges Ellen's loyalties to Kayla. He's older and cooler than Kayla, he really seems to like Ellen and no one’s ever ‘liked’ her before. Should she stay true to her amazing new mate or step into the unknown with Jason?

Whilst Ellen’s dad is absent with his new family, her mum, played by Jaime Winstone is oblivious to her. She’s more concerned with playing host to a variety of shady characters who hang around the house at all hours than listening to her daughter. Leon (Charlie Creed-Miles), a seemingly omnipresent mate of her mum’s, has his eye on Ellen. But with no one looking out for her, where can she turn?

As well as giving a platform to a brand new writer and director, Ellen boasts an array of new talent behind the camera, with its director of photography, editor, production designer and casting director all female first-timers. The music was composed by Jonathan Hill, also marking his broadcast drama debut.

Sarah Quintrell, writer said "I wanted to write about what it's like to be young, poor and female. I wanted to look at the human being behind the statistics - what does a vulnerable girl really look like? The film explores this through a female friendship that is compassionate, funny and full of joy.”

Piers Wenger, head of Channel 4 drama said: “Ellen is a powerful, incredibly prescient and visceral film – a proper gut punch. On top of its poignancy as a piece of drama, it is fantastic that on a practical level it’s given so much breakthrough talent the chance to shine and make their mark on Channel 4’s drama slate.”

Philip Trethowan, executive producer said “Mahalia Belo’s beautiful realisation of Sarah Quintrell’s powerful script and some captivating performances have created a film that will stay in the mind for a long time. It’s a testimony to what can be achieved when new talent is given a chance.”
Ellen was developed and produced by Touchpaper TV, a Banijay UK company, for Channel 4’s Coming Up scheme which finds and develops new talent. Ben Bickerton is the producer and Philip Trethowan is the executive producer. It was commissioned for Channel 4 by Piers Wenger.

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