Roland Ellis is a true all-rounder. Not only is he an emerging filmmaker; he is also a writer, songwriter and musician. Though he works across multiple disciplines, Ellis’ work is unified by an overarching interest in issues such as transparency and big data, as well as underground cultures within mainstream society. His film credits include the short film ‘Spiritual Machines’ and short documentaries ‘Full Fantasy’, ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Making America Great Again’. Roland has also worked as a contributor to Rolling Stone magazine since 2013.
With the support of a Cultural Trust grant, Roland will complete the short film component of his doctoral thesis, titled ‘Psychic Zero Stations’. Working in the field of literary and cinematic approaches to ‘big-data’ and artificial intelligence ethics, he aims to address and pose ethical questions regarding the use of behavioural data, such as Google searches and purchasing patterns, and the potential dangers posed by such invasive technologies.
Roland will write and direct the film, which will be produced by PROSPECT, shot by cinematographer Evan Jake Cohen, with big data research and post-production support from ‘1776’, a Brooklyn-based community of innovators using technology to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Most importantly, he will be mentored by Australian writer and director Ned McNeilage, whose experience working in both the American film and advertising industries uniquely positions him to provide professional insight into the filmmaking craft, and guidance on big data and the American psyche.
Not only will this opportunity greatly aide Roland in the completion of the critical component of his doctoral thesis; it will also provide him with invaluable experience of, and exposure to, the standards and processes of the US film industry. ‘Psychic Zero Stations’ may well be the step that provides Ellis with a pathway to establishing himself as an international filmmaker, and realizing his dream of telling stories of significance to a global audience.