National Film Festival for Talented Youth | Seattle Youth Film Festival | Student Film Festival


Ellie Heart by Dom Fera

Film of the Week

Two high school boys discover that a basement storage room can be magically transformed with a simple key…and inside this enchanted room is Ellie Heart- a fantasy girl in every sense. With a new place to hide from their problems, the boys find their ways to the next part of their lives through jealousy, denial and their different relationship with the same dream girl.

Ellie Heart was an official selection of NFFTY 2013 and won the Audience Award under the category of Closing Night Ends Here. 

About the Director:














Dom is a 22-year-old writer, director, and actor, currently running a YouTube channel with over 220,000 subscribers and over 75 million video views – where his short films, animations, and comedy sketches have been seen all over the world. He has won audience awards four years in a row and a ‘Best Narrative Short Film’ award at NFFTY. Dom was born and raised in suburban New Jersey, and will be graduating in May from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for Film and TV.


Dom has been a long time supporter of NFFTY. His films are not only entertaining but takes on an interesting approach in storytelling, through the use of fantasy. He can also be commonly seen starring in his own videos. NFFTY speaks to him to find out more about this talented actor/director.

Q. The role of Ellie can be possibly read as the “girl of my dreams”, hence to you, who do you think best represents “Ellie”? 

Well, I think my girlfriend would have a few things to say to me if I didn’t say “my girlfriend.” But I also think right there in that question is part of the idea in the movie — that there isn’t REALLY such a thing as dream girl, or boy, or farm animal if you’re into that sort of thing. I think it’s easy to rest your brain on the cushiony idea of your “dream” love, but it’s not a space you can live in, ’cause it’s not a real space! It’s a fantasy. Ellie’s a fantasy, and as with fantasies, she’s serving a totally legitimate purpose for a while, in her little 40s/50s/60s sanctuary room, but then, as Joey and Mark do, you gotta take a step past that — and eventually take a stab at something scarier. AKA, something real. Fantasies are important, though! And I think even Ellie Heart is just that.

Q. What inspired you to come up with the story? 

Usually with my stories, it starts with me getting really jazzed about an big image or concept. Something like “the dream girl in the dream room.” But with such a giant idea like that, the next step for me is asking “okay, cool, but who cares? Why put that in a movie — what’s the point?” And almost always, that question is answered with the characters wrapped up in it all. Ellie Heart always needed to be about the boys who find her, and that’s where Joey and Mark came from. They’re the two dudes who would NEED this phenomenon to happen to them, they’re the guys at a certain spot in their life that will grow up from it. Again, breaking it all down, it goes back to the general idea of a fantasy and what purpose it actually serves.

Q. We see that you act and direct as well. Which do you prefer? 

I’ve always looked at the idea of myself acting in my stuff as just another tool I use to tell the story I want to tell. So what I’m saying is I’m a tool. It’s just as personal as it can get when I write, direct, act, edit, and do the music for these thingies. And as far as what I like better, it’s hard to tell! The messiness comes by doing both of them at the same time — but separately, when I’ve only acted in friends’ movies or only directed other actors, it’s a pretty even competition for my love.

Q. Fantasy films are interesting. They allow you to play with your creativity and stretch it as far as you can. So the question is, what went through your mind as you come up with the story and how do you reconcile it to make the story believable? 

Fantasies, magic, superpowers, monsters — they work their best as killer metaphors. Subtle or otherwise. That’s not to say that a monster movie that exists for the sake of being a monster movie doesn’t have it’s place, in fact, I love stuff that just KNOWS what it is and does it full-speed. But in the stuff I like writing, even if it’s over-the-top, the magic works as an extension of what the thing is actually about. If Back to the Future was only about time travel, it’d maybe just be “neat.” But throw in the ideas of cosmic fate and changing your destiny, and you end up with something very human in front of a super-neato time-travelly backdrop. It’s all the Mary Poppins quote — a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! I’ve got little interest in making real-world relationship dramas and broken character pieces. But throw in a monster or some superpowers, and I’m in. It’s all a little trick. The superhero mask catches your eye, but the guy underneath it is what keeps you looking.


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