We profile and chat to the rising filmmaker about her debut film.

Photography by Christian Julia

Photography by Christian Julia

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Emily Singer is no stranger to the spotlight – an award-winning writer and director, Emily is an emerging voice in the world of film, and creating her own impact in the industry. Her love and passion for writing and producing led her to co-found Greene Street Global, a production company that she runs alongside collaborator Alexander Schikoff. Despite her young age, Emily has worked non-stop for years and has plenty of experience under her belt already, from interning in the writer’s rooms for Hawaii 5-0, Magnum P.I., and MacGyver during the summers in between college, to being a writer’s PA on Magnum P.I. – Emily is equipped with talent beyond her age.

Emily’s tear-jerker new project will take you on an emotional journey – her debut film, sticks & stones, details the devastating ripple effect sexual assault has on the victim and the people around them. The film stars Bella Giannulli as Clair, a young women who is navigating the devastation of sexual assault, hookup culture, and the struggle of reclaiming your sexuality in its aftermath, and Jose Velazquez co-stars as Clair’s partner. Through her film Emily wanted to redefine how society perceives pivotal moments that can set the tone for the rest of our lives, but by no means should. sticks & stones has already begun making waves within the industry, the film won an Independent Shorts Award and will be featured at Austin Lift Off festival, and more.

Upon talking to Emily it is clear she is a natural born narrator. Her enthusiasm for her craft is unmistakable and infectious. She is effortlessly cool and a compelling storyteller – a true creative soul through and through, she loves to dedicate her free time to photography, writing scripts, reading books and traveling. Emily thrives doing anything innovative and plans to continue to make beautiful content, whether that be through her social media platforms or through her films.

Watch the trailer for sticks & stones here, read our interview below…

What was the inspiration behind your film sticks & stones?
Emily Singer: Each time I sat down to write, this story kept surfacing. Even when I tried to write something, anything, else. Growing up, I felt that a lot of female characters that I idolized were portrayed as broken, hurting, and closed off. The ‘sad girl’ persona was exceedingly popular and extremely romanticized and it’s something I still see a lot of in film and television. I really wanted to create a three-dimensional female character that, no doubt about it, was going through something difficult internally, but managed to remain vulnerable.

What do you hope viewers take away from the film?
ES:I hope people walk away admiring Clair’s strength and her grace in being resilient. I also think there’s a harmful trend going around that ‘all men are trash’ and I truly believe that there are some really good guys out there. I think Eli is an example of that.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved in the film industry?
ES: Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to write. As a child, I read a book (sometimes two) every day. One of my favorite memories is winning a writing competition in first grade, where my story was posted in the local newspaper. I remember how good that felt, and feeling like it was what I was born to do.

I grew up in Los Angeles, but with very little ties to the industry. I was lucky that a family friend in the industry knew I was studying film and gave me a shot at a summer internship while I was home from college. After graduating, I was a PA in the writer’s room for Magnum P.I. and between getting coffees and picking up lunch, I struck up the courage to pitch an idea to the showrunners at the time. They ended up using it for an episode and I was given the opportunity to write it alongside them. Jose (Eli) was in that very episode. Flash forward to last year, I knew he’d be perfect for sticks & stones. It was just a matter of getting him to do it. I don’t easily take no for an answer.

What is the most important message that you hope viewers take with them after watching?
ES: I believe that most everyone experiences some form of emotional trauma at some point in their lives. Everyone has the choice as to whether they’re going to allow that to define who they are, the relationships they have, and the choices they make. I hope anyone watching feels brave enough to do the work to heal, knowing that they are not alone.

What can people expect to see from you in the future?
ES: I intend to continue writing and directing in many different mediums – film, television, books…
I’m currently producing a couple different projects. I really love the art of putting things together. Though when it comes time to shoot, truthfully, I do get jealous when someone else is in the director’s chair.

Why do you think a film like this is relevant in today’s society?
ES: When I was in college I sat down with a bunch of girls in my sorority and there were a lot of stories that overlapped and sounded the same. Of course, it’s not just on a college campus. Statistically one in three women globally have been violated sexually. I feel that in a lot of films it’s portrayed very pragmatically, about what a person must go through when they tell someone that they were assaulted. The hospital. The rape kits. The therapy sessions. All of which are poignant and so important. I wanted to write something for the people who, maybe, never shared their story.

What challenges did you face when writing the script/producing the film?
ES: I think it’s always really hard to be vulnerable and writing is inherently vulnerable. Being scared of judgment and criticism is something every creative person goes through. You’re putting yourself in your work, so anything that goes against that, feels like it’s going against you. Through this experience, I learned to stick to my vision and follow my gut instincts. One of the biggest challenges was shooting in only two days. Luckily, I was very fortunate to have a talented and enthusiastic team.

What drew you to Bella Giannulli for the role and what specific qualities does her character possess?
ES: When I first met Bella I felt like I had unconsciously written the part for her. Not only is she talented and incredibly hard working, but she’s so grounded and truly a dream to work with. I think she has a really bright career ahead of her. Bella brought a beautiful balance of spunkiness in the lighter moments, and fragility in the more delicate scenes. She made Clair feel relatable, she brought her to life.

How do you hope to continue the conversation surrounding sexual assault?
ES: I hope to make a feature film that further delves into this sensitive subject. I think the things that are hard to talk about are usually the ones most worthy of a conversation.

Where can people view the film? Are you playing at any festivals?
ES: Hopefully! We’ve been selected for a few festivals and are still waiting to hear back from some. The trailer is on our instagram, @greenestreet.global.

What’s next for you and future projects?
ES: My producing partner, Alexander Schikoff, and I plan to keep making films under our company, Greene Street Global. We aim to highlight the voices of young writers and creatives. We have a comedy by a fantastic writer-director duo coming out very soon, and a few other projects shooting in the next few months.

What was the best part of collaborating with Emily on this project, and bringing the vision to life?
Bella Giannulli: When I first met Emily, I was instantly inspired by her determination and work ethic. She is the definition of a hustler. As we began working on this project, Emily always made herself available for whatever questions I had. On set she brought a level of professionalism and fun, making the overall experience a dream come true.

How did the cast and crew really come together to create an environment where you felt safe and comfortable?
BG: Everyone who worked on this project was super caring. I think Emily and Alexander set a good precedent at the beginning of the shoot and everyone followed suit.

How is acting school going, and what are you looking forward to the most this year following this premiere?
BG: I’m finishing out my time at Stella Adler, but I’ve learned and grown so much over the last couple of years. I’m looking forward to the future and all the opportunities ahead of me.

Photography by Christian Julia

Photography by Christian Julia