Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Although Eva Grzelak is fairly new to filmmaking, she isn’t new to the performing arts industry. After working behind the scenes in a variety of roles, Eva shifted her talents to the front of the camera. Three years ago, she began writing the script to her debut short film; Untitled Thoughts, which Eva describes as being a semi-autobiographical piece about a young girl who “could be any high school student” and is “intrigued by, yet struggles to understand, her changing thought processes.”
Andreea Boyer: Where are you from and what can you tell us about yourself?
Eva Grzelak: I’m a British-born Australian resident and I like to call myself a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-some. Over the years, I’ve worked all over the world as a technician in television, theater, corporate events, concert touring, theme parks, and performed as a singer, MC, and actor. I like to be in a constant state of learning new things, trying new things, creating new things. I also love coffee … especially in a martini.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Eva Grzelak: I have performed in China, East Timor, and Malaysia, but the majority of my acting and film experiences have been in Australia.
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has motivated and inspired you?
Eva Grzelak: Essentially, I started by writing a script three years ago and then asking my friends for advice. Friends that I had made as an actor on their film sets. Instead, they gave me their time and energy to help me turn the script into a film. Since then, the motivation has just been to keep moving forward so that their time and energy is not wasted. As for inspiration; it’s all the things I see, hear, feel, smell, and taste in the world. Past and present experiences. People. Everything around me, that I’ve come in contact with, gives me ideas and challenges.
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Eva Grzelak: Untitled Thoughts is my first film and, I hate to say, filmmaking was never my main focus up to that point. I sometimes joke that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I’m 48 years old, but I think every job I’ve ever done over the years has given me the skills, experience, and creativity, leading me to filmmaking. It all evolved into something I, eventually, really wanted to do.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie?
Eva Grzelak: Untitled Thoughts is a semi-autobiographical piece portraying a point in my life, when I was in high school, when I couldn’t understand why I was feeling and thinking a certain way. But rather than telling my story, I designed it to start a conversation amongst viewers on mental health and to help them tell their stories. I first met Maya, who portrays “Girl” in Untitled Thoughts, on an independent film where we played younger and adult versions of the same character. We hit it off straight away and remained really good friends. Because of this friendship and the sensitive nature of the film to me, I felt comfortable talking to her about my experiences in order to help her develop the character of GIRL. We workshopped a lot, delving into dozens of techniques I had learned over the years as an actor, particularly emotions, to help Maya find what worked for her. The level of trust between us leading up to, during, and after the shoot is unlike any relationship I’ve had with anyone and is so precious to me. She surprised a lot of people, including her family, with her portrayal of “Girl” and she embodied the character naturally, honestly and stayed true to herself. I am so proud of her. I think she is a star.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film your movie?
Eva Grzelak: I actually filmed it at my old high school in Australia, in the exact same place I was pondering my own “untitled thoughts” over 30 years ago. It was an experience, that’s for sure! A bit of anxiety overload at first, but then, as we made our way through the first day of shooting, I think I made my peace. My crew were an amazing support.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other works?
Eva Grzelak: I just finished the music video “Relentless” for Australian rock band Audio Reign and I have a couple “secret” projects coming up that just fell into my lap. Totally unexpected considering I’ve only directed two pieces, but I am excited and up for the challenge. I also really enjoy making short content on social media as another creative outlet.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Eva Grzelak: A wonderful experience was when we finished Untitled Thoughts. When I could say to myself; “Yes. I can do this!” My best, and also most terrifying, experience was on the first day of filming. After decades of working for other people, other companies, and making their dreams come true here I was, on set, surrounded by friends and colleagues who were prepared to give up their time and give me their talent and energy to make MY dream come true. Truly humbling.
Andreea Boyer: Which moments on the film set have been the most difficult ones for you?
Eva Grzelak: The most difficult was actually just going ahead and making the film instead of “um-ing” and “ah-ing” about it. The most frustrating was during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was overseas when the virus hit and had trouble getting back into Australia, so a lot of our editing was back and forth between Rebecca and me, which took time and a lot of data! Certainly a lesson in patience and clear communication! Once I got back to Australia, Rebecca and I were able to sit together in the edit suite and go through things a lot easier and efficiently. The same was with Chris Savvy and Adam Orlowski on the audio edit. I’m absolutely someone who needs to be in the room for every aspect of production.
Andreea Boyer: What advice do you have for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Eva Grzelak: I hope you don’t mind but, I am going to change this question to “… for all independent filmmakers young AND old…” because, to me, age doesn’t matter. You are not too old or too young to work on your goals as a filmmaker. Trust yourself. Trust your vision. Trust your story. Just do it. It’s important to do it for yourself, at least the first time. As for how to reach the best audience for your work; I can’t give advice on that yet. I’m still working it out myself, but, like I mentioned before, I’d like Untitled Thoughts to be used amongst communities and families to encourage conversations
about mental health. I’ll leave it to one of my most favorite people to sum it up:
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
– Carrie Fisher
Thank you, Ms. Grzelak. We wish you continued success.