I first learned about Emily Skye through director Ryan Little. I saw him post on Instagram that he was interviewing her for his Filmmaking Friends podcast and I was immediately drawn to her. Not only is she a writer and a director, but she is a cinematographer who camera operates on her shoots as well. She is a quadruple talent and I’m honored to feature her on Ms. In The Biz. So, let’s dive right in!
Hey Emily! Really excited to talk to you. Let’s start at the beginning. I know that you started in the business as a model. Curious what caused you to pivot to writing and directing, and when did you first pick up a camera to start shooting?
I always knew I was going to be a Director. Ever since I watched Close Encounters of The Third Kind. I was obsessed with Aliens. I used modeling with Wilhelmina to get in and begin to network, to learn. When I saw my exit, I took it. My moment was on the set of Miami Vice and working with Michael Mann the Director. I was like, I can do this. The next day I booked my first music video shoot as a Director.
I have always been behind the camera and Directing. Before I even knew what I was doing and that was at the age of 6. Over the last few years, I knew the way to stick out and get more work was to learn everything I can about cameras, so I can speak to my DP and know exactly what I want. Now, it’s just an extension of my arm.
I freaking love all of the photos of you on Instagram where you are on set shooting and looking fierce with your camera as you work! But from following your Instagram stories it seems that you’ve been getting backlash? Can you explain what’s going on and your thoughts on it all?
I get a lot of backlash from men. Saying I’m not a real filmmaker, which is hilarious because my work and links are all over my feed. They are upset that I’m in leggings and a tank top. Since when is there a specific look at how a female filmmaker should look. I get hot, I want to be comfortable and be able to move around. I also get flack for “Posing” with cameras. Funny, men do the same exact thing. What I look like in the moment of filming is not cute. Double chin and I’m usually talking. I care about feeling and looking my best, because it’s going out there for people to see. I have now formed a group of women #shefilmtribe and we now target these industry trolls who are nasty on our posts, we then stop them and they will learn that their harassment is not ok, nor do we stand for it. Change will happen. We are stronger united.
I’m a big fan of documentary projects and slice of life stories, and also whiskey for that matter, so I am super excited for your series “Binders Stash”. Can you tell us a bit about what that series is, how it came to be, and where we can watch it?
I moved back to Florida 3 years ago and walked into a really awesome Whiskey bar. My now boyfriend designed it and his knowledge, look, had all the ingredients for a Anthony Bourdain Whiskey style docuseries. Took some persuasion, but he agreed. First season is filmed and with Gersh. We are in negotiations and it will be an Original Series. I just can’t release the network to the public yet.
I loved listening to you talk on Ryan Little’s Filmmaking Friends podcast. It was so cool to hear all about your preference to camera operate on the projects you are directing because (and I’m paraphrasing) it gives you an intimacy with the actors and control over catching special moments that otherwise might be missed. If someone is interested in both cinematography and also directing, what do you think is the best course of action for them to take to develop both of those skill sets so that they can be executed at the same time?
For me, I have always just done both. Everyone has their own path and how to figure it out. I would say lean towards what you feel is first nature to you and then move to learn the next.
I know at the time of this interview you are off to Georgia to shoot a project and that you have “The Erectors” available to view on Amazon Prime, and of course the upcoming docuseries “Binders Stash”. Are there other projects that we should keep an eye out for or things that we can support you with as viewers?
I have two features I’m attached to. One is a book adapted series, a cross between X-men and the Notebook, called Significance, the other I have to keep the title on the low. Both will be theatrically released. I also have another series I’m working on, sci-fi thriller and season two of Binders.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received whether that’s industry or career related, or just life related?
Create multiple projects so you will be ready when asked what you have because you never know which will stick. That was something that has been with me for years, ever since Lakeshore Entertainment told me this after a pitch meeting and I only had one project presented.
And now… rapid-fire questions!
If you could listen to only one band for the rest of eternity, what band would it be?
The Rolling Stones
Who is the person who inspires you most in your life?
Favorite TV show or movie growing up?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The X-Files.
What’s one place you’d love to travel but haven’t had the chance to go to yet?
Iceland and Easter Island