The internet really is a wonderful thing. You can find all kinds of stuff on there that don't belong anywhere else. It also allows creators to host work that doesn’t quite fit into a traditional ‘work-path’. Take Kelsey Ellison for example. When I asked her to sum up her professional role in a nutshell, she stated, “I’m a performer who does what she wants!”
I sat down with Kelsey over coffee to discuss life on the internet, and how this space has helped leverage her overall career. We don’t always follow just one road to get where we want, especially in this day and age. Being a creator means having a lot of strings on your bow, and Kelsey is someone who juggles a plethora of things on a day-to-day basis.
This girl is more than just a meme! Check out her YouTube channel for more
She’s particularly well-known for going viral with her ‘Dancing Hermione’ video at MCM Comic Con London this year. This was also shown live on The Tonight Show to guest Daniel Radcliffe (and millions of viewers across the world). Since then Kelsey has taken the act across the UK, performing on a number of club nights and other events, as well as cameoing the character at events like Summer In The City.
What many readers may not be aware of is how long Kelsey has been a creator for. Her YouTube channel itself has been going for ten years at this point, with a mix of many different videos. From dance, to anime music videos, to just more lifestyle content, there’s more videos than you can shake a stick (or wave a wand?) at. She started her channel as a creative space to host her ideas, and she still really sees it primarily in that manner today. “It’s started as an outlet for my dancing, but over the years I really realised I enjoyed creating content to express myself.
“I didn’t think of it as a job when I started it, I just hoped that it would go out in the world! It’s somewhere to have fun and meet new people, which can actually lead me onto new opportunities. I see performing as my more ‘professional side’ I guess!”
Going viral has also had an effect on Kelsey’s content, though perhaps not in the way people would expect. “It happened at such a good time, and I’d been wanting to do more Harry Potter content for ages. And it just so happened to go viral when I launched my Indiegogo campaign for my fan film Sisters of House Black, which is amazing!”
She continues, “My YouTube channel has grown in numbers since I went viral, but it still feels the same. I do so many different things on my channel, so I’ll just keep on trying new things and see what sticks!”
But when you have several hats on, having an outlet is extremely important. Kelsey has trained in Musical Theatre, which has provided her with a whole bunch of skills that she wishes to use in her future career. She’s acted on the screen - which includes a small speaking role in Han Solo - she’s performed at a variety of dancing gigs, and she also now works behind-the-scenes on another project.
Sisters of House Black recently previewed a scene at Buffer Festival in Toronto! Check it out here
Sisters of House Black is a fan-made film, started by Kelsey, still in the production phase and due to be released. It explores the untold story of three Harry Potter characters - Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black), Narcissa Malfoy (née Black) and Andromeda Tonks (née Black) - prior to the rise of Lord Voldemort. And very importantly, it has given Kelsey the opportunity to dabble in filmmaking for the first time.
“I wanted to do something like this for a long time.” Kelsey says, “I spent quite a few years researching how to make films, so I thought I’d give it a go. And the first thing I’m making is based on Harry Potter, which is something that I know a lot about, so it’s good for a first project.”
By creating a fanmade film like this, Kelsey has had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and learn on the job. Plus, every person who works on the production team with her is a fellow internet dweller, and is of course passionate about creating this film. She credits one of her crew members Petros, who has been a big help in the overall production process.
“He used to live in LA, and worked on his own series called My Life as a Video Game, and he went through the same process I did by creating his own show. He’s mainly doing the cinematography for the film, but he’s also doing a lot more! He knows how to get things done.”
And it’s not just the technical stuff in the film that Kelsey has had a helping hand on. She also credits the director of the film, Tom. “The reason I chose him to do it was because he really got the whole message of the film, even before reading the script. It was like he was reading my brain!”
One of the most important things to know when creating a big project like this is to use your contacts. If you have people that share your creative vision, and (even better) can unload their wisdom and talent into your project, then you’ll be certain to see it succeed. You can’t do something like this alone!
"I KILLED SIRIUS BLACK!!" Kelsey's take on the iconic Bellatrix
Speaking to any future filmmakers, Kelsey advises. “Do your research. Don’t go into it blind. I didn’t go to film school or anything, so I’m thankful for the internet! I read articles and books on filmmaking. I watched hours and hours of YouTube on script writing and other things, it’s incredibly helpful.”.
I was also curious about why she chose to look at the Black sisters in particular from the Harry Potter series, and Kelsey confessed that she’d always been intrigued about telling the untold narratives of the characters. “I wanted to know more about the Black family tree, plus you don’t get to hear much of Andromeda’s story.
“I especially found Bellatrix to be an interesting character. I want to know why she’s like the way she is.” By that, I assume she means full-pelt crazy! (Still love ya Bellatrix).
In the film, Kelsey also plays the role of Bellatrix herself, so she gets to experience being both in front of the camera and behind it. She stars alongside actress Hannah Snow (who plays the role of Narcissa) and her own sister Abbi Kaye Ellison (performing as Andromeda) in the three starring roles. Though of course Kelsey still has some big casting decisions to make for the film, so watch her space!
As you can see, there’s no hard and fast rule to being a creator. You don’t need to fit one genre, or produce content that ‘fits’ with everyone else's. Do what YOU’RE interested in, even if they’re topics that are completely different from each other. If anything, it could be a positive thing. You’ll be drawing in audiences from all different social circles!
As Kelsey puts it, “There’s so many things you can do whilst you’re alive. Why not do all of them?”
Spoken like a true Gryffindor!
If you want to know more, follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her latest projects