‘She’s a passionate film-maker, full of ideas, but calm when challenges arise’

  • 35
  • Shooting producer/director
  • Freelance

Ellie Merz admits that her route into TV was “pretty conventional – a university history geek, turned history TV researcher and a lot of time fi nding storylines in dusty archives”. After six years as a researcher, she became a producer, where she supported top-flight talent such as Julie Walters and Krept & Konan to front their first documentaries.

But after 10 years in the industry, she realised she was hungry for something more. She felt accomplished in the role of producer, but also stuck. There were two things holding her back: her limited self-shooting experience and her own inner critical voice telling her she “wasn’t technical”. She decided to tackle both head on, winning a coveted BBC-funded place on the National Film and Television School’s female shooters course.

Within months of completing the course, she’d scored her directing break on BBC3 doc Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating. She pushed herself to self-shoot more than half the fi lm, and in the process earned an Edinburgh TV New Voice Award nomination for Debut Director. Emboldened by this success, she went on to shoot the majority of her next project: Dani Dyer: Is This Anxiety? for C4.

Summer Films creative director Lucy Hillman, who supported Merz in both of her directorial outings, says she was impressed by her “confident and imaginative visual style”.

She adds: “Ellie was outstanding with talent, vulnerable contributors and when negotiating sensitive access. She’s a passionate film-maker, full of ideas, but calm when challenges arise.”