Danielle Eliska Interview
Willie Mickell: At what point during your life did you decide that you wanted to pursue filmmaking?
Danielle Eliska: I’ve always been a creative soul. I was interested in storytelling and the moving image from a very young age. You don’t know all the elements of what shapes you until you’re defined. I’m still realizing things from my childhood that prepared me for this moment. The way I read books, how I loved watching film, my passion for writing, my obsession with photographs all played a part in making me who I am today. So, being a filmmaker was my destiny from the beginning—along the way, I collected things that contributed to the calling.
WM: What are you most proud about with your film “Shield” and why?
DE: Foster care is a topic that generally has a negative stigma attached to it. I wrote a beautiful story about healing, love and beauty. With SHIELD, I want to show others that there is love in foster care homes and that positive outcomes can come out of tough situations. Also, I am proud to say how much I am learning about the foster care system. It will only help me be a stronger advocate for foster care through my artistic project. I am proud to have written a short film that can touch the lives of many people.
In addition, making a film is not an easy process, especially when looking for funding. So I celebrate each achievement—big or small—in the process.
WM: If you could share advice with young girls that would like to follow in your footsteps with filmmaking what advice would you share?
DE: I am asked this so often and there is a sea of advice you want to give others. The most important thing I can say in this interview is trust the process. Know that your life has purpose. It is not an easy road, but passion and hard work will propel you forward. Faith and working hard is incredibly important. Have confidence but do not be prideful. BE KIND, always. Let go of bitterness; it clogs up the soul. Study the craft. Take yourself and the work you want to do seriously. Be patient with yourself when figuring out exactly what you want to do in life. You have a special purpose. Pray about it and do things creatively that can move you in that direction. Also, the internet is available for research. Read and learn as much as you can from filmmaking websites. You don’t have to have a million dollars to learn. Just get access to a computer at home or the local library and do your research; learn about what it is you want to do.
WM: Over the past years, I have watched you from a distance build your brand, be honest, open-minded, creative and innovative when it comes to art and film. What keeps you inspired on your journey?
DE: Endless gratitude. I am humbled by your kind words. Honestly, GOD. Because there were times I wanted to give up. I am sure I will have more times like that—but GOD keeps me going. He reminds me of my purpose.
WM: If you could pick one person that has inspired you on your filmmaking journey who would that person be?
DE: Wow. Just one? I guess I will have to say my maternal grandfather—he is the one who I probably got my passion for filmmaking from.
WM: What is the best advice in regards to filmmaking did you receive from a mentor?
DE: Study. Network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (money for campaigns, advice on what steps to take, grants, etc.). Learn how to deal with constructive criticism. And put yourself and your work out there.
WM: What is your proudest moment in your career and why?
DE: I’m asked this often. Honestly, making it to this point in my life with my passion still burning for writing, filmmaking and photographing, because life…let me tell you…it isn’t an easy road. And if you add artist to that, you are faced with a lot of disappointments. But you must believe in what you do. That will carry you through the darkest hours. Because you know for a fact light always follows darkness. So, holding on in tough times are my proudest moments in my career.
WM: What has been your biggest challenge in filmmaking and how did you overcome it?
DE: Money. Gaining investors who take my work seriously and are willing to invest in the projects/stories I want to tell has been the biggest challenge. I have not accomplished landing big financial investors yet. So, it is lots of work to make films because raising funds is challenging. But I must try my best to push through.
WM: If you could summarize the team you work with on a daily basis, how would you describe them and their creativity and alignment with you?
DE: Powerful. Inspiring. Tenacious. Hard-working. Knowledgeable. Kind. Collaborative.
We all have a goal in mind—to make great work. That is the focus. So we know we must ensure that stays out in front of us, even when times are tough. We put forth our best efforts every day.
WM: What projects are you currently working on at this moment?
DE: We are currently in the pre-production for SHIELD. Our team launched a Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign and we encourage you to support it if you can. SHIELD is a beautiful short film about a little girl name Zoe who was put in foster care after the death of her brother. Trauma made it difficult to place her in a permanent home until her foster mother, Rachel, embraces the challenge in an inspiring story about facing fears, finding inner strength, and braving the scars that make us beautiful.
WM: Where can people find you on social media?
DE: Current film’s crowdfunding campaign: SHIELD the film
WM: Any additional information that you would like to share?
DE: It takes a village to create good work. It’s a lot of hard work. So when you see an artist with a positive project, please generously give. They aren’t doing the work their doing for fun—but it is a calling. Be as supportive as you can when it comes to artists because there is so much purity in their process. Artists have the power to make the world a better place and if the work they are doing serves that, you should definitely want to be a part of it.