IN CONVERSATION WITH ELLIOT FRANCES FLYNN
Interview by Jana Letonja
Elliot Frances Flynn solidifies herself as a rising actress to watch as she shines in two feature films that were released earlier this year. The first is drama ‘Linoleum’ and the second the thriller ‘Confession’.
Elliot, you recently starred in the drama feature ‘Linoleum’ about a host of a failing children’s science show trying to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage. While doing that, a series of bizarre events occured that caused him to question his own reality. How was it working on a drama, sci-fi project like this?
I really loved ‘Linoleum’ from the moment I read it. Even before I read it, when the audition request came to me, I did a deep dive into Colin West’s, the writer and director, work. I read some interviews he did and really felt that he had something to say and that I wanted to be a part of it. After working on ‘Linoleum’ and also ‘Unidentified Objects’ I found a deeper understanding for the sci-fi genre. At the base of any story is a story about what it means to be human. And I love that the ticket for entry, so to speak, is something fantastical and arresting – aliens, space travel, whatever. I hope to work on more sci-fi movies in the future. These two are pretty tame in the sci-fi category. I’d love to play a robot or the Terminator, something deliciously sci-fi.
Also earlier this year, you starred in the thriller ‘Confession’ about an up-and-coming district attorney taking on the case of a young woman who has accused three men of sexual assault. What was your favorite part of filming this thrilling, mystery film?
When we shot this film, it was the first time I actually had a juicy supporting role that I could sink my teeth into. I become deeply attached to all the characters I play, I always have. But working on Whitney was especially exciting because all that work could come across on the screen. She is a survivor of assault and she feels deep guilt over taking a settlement from her rapist. And finding Whitney’s courage helped me find courage in myself. It is very easy to feel ashamed of the choices we make to survive. But we make those choices to survive, which is an act of perseverance in itself.
On screen and in your work as a writer you explore the themes of coming-of-age, womanhood and sexuality with sincerity and enthusiasm. What makes you passionate about these themes so much?
As a woman in her twenties, the stories write themselves. I think part of being in the later half of your twenties is about reflecting on everything that’s come before. Things start to make sense too. I am really grateful to be at this point where my ideas about what it means to come of age, to be a woman, to be a sexual being are taking shape. I wrote a lot of stuff in my early 20s that are really self-flagellating and angry, and pointless really. Now I feel that I have enough distance from these pillar moments, as I call them, and I can write something that is both soothing to me, but also most importantly, useful to someone else. I hope to help others, anyone regardless of gender or anything, feel seen.
Both womanhood and sexuality are two themes that are being hot topics in society and also in politics currently. What are your personal views on what is going on regarding this?
I’m a firm believer that stories can change the way we think and the way we view the world. I think there is room for all stories regarding womanhood and sexuality. I’m sensing in the industry that a lot of filmmakers feel like there isn’t room for their personal story right now, but I think that if you tell your honest, true story in a vulnerable way, people will want to hear your point of view. I think that a lot of people have this fear of being pushed out of society and politically by people who they don’t understand. And the same is in Hollywood. It’s scary to feel silenced or disregarded, but there is room for everyone. And if you tell your truth while having an open heart and an open mind, there’s room for all of us.
You studied writing and theatre at the State University of New York. What made you choose studying writing?
I actually studied writing first. Writing is the first way I felt connected to other people. My sisters and I used to sit around and write stories and then trade and read them. When I was an undergrad, my favorite times were talking about each other’s work in workshops. I always wanted to be an actress, but I think when it came time to go away to school, I felt a lot of fear about pursuing acting. My parents did too. Honestly, writing seemed like a safer bet at the time.
You found a love for storytelling at a young age. How did this develop into acting?
When I would get in trouble as a kid, my parents used to take away the book I was reading. It wasn’t “no TV for a week”. I loved reading and I think it’s because I got to forget about myself. I was a shy kid. I loved Harry Potter and Narnia and my heart hurt so badly when I realized I could never go to these places. When I discovered acting, it was the next best thing to actually going to Narnia. How else can one so fully steep themselves into a fantasy than on stage or on set. It felt so magical to me. It still does.
Do you see yourself writing for TV and film or more as a novelist?
I have written for every medium, though it hasn’t all seen the light of day. A lot of the stories I have fluctuate medium. We just wrapped production on my first short film as a writer and director, ‘Baby Fat’. I first wrote it as a one-act play. I’m working on a feature script that was first a short story. All these stories were inspired by things from my life. I love to write memoirs. I am actually going to Paris this summer to work on some personal pieces. Usually, I just start mulling over an idea and start to write the screenplay or just some prose in a Word doc and then it becomes clear to me that it should be a screenplay or a short story or whatever else.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for writing?
The conversations I have with my friends and loved ones inspire me. At some point in the last few years, maybe during the Pandemic, I feel like I started to really listen and converse. When I was younger, I was so self-conscious and self-absorbed that I couldn’t even be present in conversation. But now I know, and fully appreciate too, that when we’re catching up and chatting, we’re seeking a shoulder to lean on or someone to bounce ideas off of or to problem solve or reassure, and it’s because we’re all human and feel confused or angry or upset. And we’re all feeling the same feelings. The things that I write about are those feelings and those fears.
When you are not filming, where would we most probably be able to find you?
I live in Brooklyn. I’m trying to explore my neighborhood more and try new things. My partner and I did go axethrowing recently and played petanque for the first time, which I highly suggest. But if someone was trying to find me, I am usually at the same handful of bars or at home reading.
Tell us more about your upcoming, exciting projects.
We are in post-production on ‘Baby Fat’ and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s icky and fun and a little grotesque. Hopefully that will show in festivals in early 2024. Other than that, I am writing away and am searching for my next project.
Photographer NELSON N. CASTILLO
Stylist SZALAY MILLER
MUA MIA JONES
Hair JOSUE PEREZ