2018: Year In Review



A blur of post-production. I don’t remember much except watching Relationshit at least 85 times. I also took Eli to Austria (his 4th country, nbd) to romp around in the snow. He was so happy I cried.


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More post-production and then the payoff: Relationshit premiere! I wrote about it here. That night is one of my favourite memories ever, and I frequently think back to it when I need an energy boost.



This month was devoted to distributing Relationshit to festivals and lining up some marketing stuff. I also gave my first ever radio interview, for a London station.



Maybe you know I run a production company that makes branded content. While I already had a team in place, April marked the first time I sent a team on a shoot without attending it myself. It went great and I was very proud!


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I submitted an application to Sundance Development Lab and to something else secret.

I was a guest on Mentorless podcast, recording a 90 minute episode about the making of Relationshit. Highly recommended!
And I spoke to students at Raindance Film School about, guess what, yep.

Eli made two absolute BFFs in the forest, and they all cry every time they see each other.



Turned 27, rode a horse, directed a commercial in London.


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Accepted an 11 week gig on a production in Germany, looked extremely good doing it.


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Worked all week on the above gig, took Eli to the lake on the weekend.


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Wrapped up the gig, started preparing pitches and other materials for two things I had been accepted into: Reykjavik Film Festival’s Talent Lab, and ITVfest’s Network Notes track. Which meant six international flights in three weeks.

Oh, and Eli and I made it into a magazine?




October was THE BEST. Of course the experience of RIFF Talent Lab itself was great: Drinking champagne with the president of Iceland at his residence and talking about my work with Shailene Woodley, whose work I adore, was pretty dope. Sitting in a hot tub overlooking the city of Reykjavik also didn’t hurt. But the best part was making some immediately super close friendships – throwing around I love yous on the 4th day of even knowing each other kind of friendships! We still all talk!

Then I flew to Detroit, where I had a 22 hour layover and got to stay at Drew Philp’s house. I had devoured and admired the hell out of his book, A $500 House in Detroit, and it felt surreal that being friends with that caliber of people is apparently my life now?

From Detroit, I flew to ITVfest in Vermont. I mean, hanging out with executives from HBO, Netflix and agencies I’d been wanting to pitch was cool and all but the best part was I got to karaoke Macklemore on stage!!! I can rap Can’t Hold Us perfectly, everyone agrees.

A twenty minute drive from ITVfest was Cold Antler Farm, and I got to stay at Jenna’s for two nights (ugh I love my life) get to know her better (she’s very cool, obviously), snuggle her dogs, go hunting with her hawk (!!!), go logging with her pony, and have dinner with her & her wonderful friends at Livingston Farm.
Maybe you know a little about my complex food ethics, and this trip contributed to adding even more nuance to my views.

Then I had to fly in an 8-seater through turbulence and nearly passed out, only to arrive in Boston to a cancelled flight back home, stranding me for two nights. Silver lining: I asked on the socials if I knew anybody in Boston, and indeed I headed out for lunch with an old internet friend the very next day. I’ve wanted to be the person who has friends in every major city, and I felt super cool knowing that I have become that! Also, Boston is gorgeous and I love it.


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Cried into my feature film script, Crème Brûlée, and finished it ahead of schedule. Then I sent it out into the world for feedback.

Finally took a Canine First Aid course.

Also, some client work.


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Finished the client work. Started thoroughly planning 2019. Cast my next short film. Prepped two upcoming shoots. Started getting up at 5am in order to make my time feel more expansive, as I get some important-but-not-urgent work done before thinking I need to be available to others. Screenwriting by candlelight as the sun rises is pretty magical.

2019, watch the roof come off.


A Directing Technique You Can Use IRL


Generally speaking, whenever an actor goes into a scene, you want them to have an “intention.”

A simple example could be a fairly straight forward dialog that you want to make more dynamic. Instead of two people sitting and talking, you could decide that Anna really wants John to sit down, but John absolutely wants to stay standing.

Take this further in a situation with conflict: A superior delivers criticism to an employee. Is their intention to:

  • punish
  • blame
  • inform
  • help?

The same lines, delivered with each of these intentions, would sound entirely different.

You can use this in your own life! If you are about to have an argument with your partner, your intention might be “to find a solution”, “to listen” or, whether conscious or subconscious, “to make them feel bad.”

When you’re meeting a friend, do you want to… impress them? Make them feel loved? Motivate them? Encourage them? It will shape the interaction.

I find this incredibly useful when pitching or selling, too: Instead of trying to “promote”, I try to “educate”: Here is a thing you didn’t know about that you might find useful. While the words you say will stay the same, the new intention changes your tone, and the energy you express will feel confident instead of nervous.

How One Good Cover Letter Changed Relationshit

When I cast for no budget productions, I post casting calls online and deal with actors directly rather than going through an agent. That means I’ll write a breakdown of roles and information about the production, and actors send their showreels and cover letters to me for consideration.

Guys, there a lot of bad cover letters.

And while I appreciate there’s a limit to the time investment we want to make when applying to no budget gigs, if someone doesn’t take 15 seconds to write my name and one line about why they’re interested in the production, I can’t trust them to take it seriously.

For Relationshit, I got the single best cover letter I ever read.

Ingvild Deila wrote three paragraphs about what interested her about the project, why she liked a previous film of mine, and how she shared my production philosophy.
She was a totally different type than what I’d imagined for Zoe, but I always want to work with people who put in the extra effort, so I suggested her to audition for June. After reading the script, she candidly explained why she didn’t feel right for June but would still love to try for Zoe.

While I wasn’t totally convinced, she had evidently been putting a lot of thought into this, and even if it wasn’t going to work out this time, I was sure we’d end up working together later. So I invited her to audition.


She was the perfect Zoe.

Relationshit – Zoe from Ivy Jelisavac on Vimeo.

This also meant that I remained open for a June, and the role finally went to Faye Sewell, who understood the June I’d written on such a deep level I barely had any work to do directing her scenes.

Relationshit – June from Ivy Jelisavac on Vimeo.

The trend continued: Shamir Dawood, whom I’d asked to audition for Paul, called me and explained why he felt better suited for Roman. I generally recommend trusting actors when they ask to try for another role too, because even though their previous roles may have been of one type, they may know of skills they have but that aren’t on their reels yet.

He auditioned for both, and, you know where this is going, he was a brilliant Roman.

roman from Ivy Jelisavac on Vimeo.

The moral of the story: If you’re a director (or producer, or other decision maker) – it’s a good idea to trust an actor if they suggest auditioning for a role even if it’s not intuitive for you.

And if you’re an actor, the extra effort of googling someone and adding a few lines to support your application can make an enormous difference.


Relationshit Premiere or I Only Cried Like Twice

Hi friends!!!


I’ll be honest: I put a dangerous amount of emotional significance onto that evening and I was really setting myself up for a real let-down there.

But guys! It was actually perfect. I felt like a beautiful badass, people I never thought would come showed up, one person was jet lagged after arriving back from Boston that morning and one person CAME STRAIGHT TO THE SCREENING FROM THE AIRPORT! SHE WAS STILL WEARING HER SKI JACKET!

As I was on sabbatical in Germany – the reason this show got finished is I was able to take a few months off work and supervise post-pro full time – I flew into London just for the weekend and stayed in a hotel like a fancy person. I had one of the best breakfasts ever with A…

… which was lucky because I wasn’t going to be able to eat again until midnight from nerves!

I once made a list of things that made me happy, and “good hair” was definitely in the top 20 or so. YUP I GOT A BLOWOUT

This was when my nerves really started getting the better of me and I told A, who was NOT EVEN REMOTELY FREAKING OUT WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM to ideally not talk to me while I attempt my eye liner because I didn’t want to be snappy at him from stress, but I luckily realised within 3.5 seconds that there was literally zero probability that someone was going to walk away thinking “Yeah I mean the show was alright but uh why didn’t Ivy have good eye liner.”

I got compliments on my dope eye liner.

We arrive at the venue and they have sectioned off an area of the bar with MY SHOW’S NAME ON THE TABLE and we’re in an ACTUAL CINEMA and I AM HAVING A PREMIERE!!!

People start arriving and by the luck of a technical delay, I end up talking to everybody before we go and take our seats. I’d been nauseous from thinking about a speech all day (week), but getting to chat with everyone beforehand and realising that they were all there cause they were interested and supportive and not a single person was waiting for a ‘Gotcha, you embarrassed yourself!’ moment completely melted the fear away.

So believe me or not but… this is my normal talking speed


The show starts… and I immediately start silently ugly crying. It’s my show! I made a show! It’s on the silver screen in a damn cinema! All these people are here cause they believed in me! I am so glad my eye liner is waterproof!

There are few happier moments I’ve had than hearing the audience laugh at the jokes. Watching it as a viewer for enjoyment instead of with a critical eye felt completely new as well, and now I’m making the same muffled sounds as before but this time from laughter because you can’t be seen laughing at your own jokes. (Which you’ve seen 80-100 times before.)

It’s Episode 6 and… I *really* have to pee.

It’s Episode 7 and I *really really* have to pee.

It’s Episode 8 and too many cool things happen in all three of those eps for me to sneak out now, and I don’t want to disturb the audience, and oh my god I have to pee SO BAD I cannot possibly sit through the Q&A after…

Luckily I have selective inhibition, so after the credits roll, while the chairs are being set up on stage, I just, you know, tell everyone I gotta pee and will be right back. I’m relieved everyone finds it funny and not awkward (except A, he’s more of an awkwardness type guy)

The Q&A brings out so many amazing questions and responses I literally have anxiety about the fact that nobody filmed it and I can’t show it to anyone.

When Faye (who plays June) explains how much she loved the script and how great it was working with me I want to melt into a puddle of joy and tears and love and goo right there.

When someone asks about budget and I tell them the number – for non-filmmakers: I spent 3% of what the show would have cost to produce fully paid – I feel like the baddest bitch. My two favourite feelings!

Afterwards, my friends call me over to, yup, open the floodgates:


Someone calls me the next Shonda Rhimes


Someone says they’re convinced I’ll have an HBO deal one day


Guys let’s be very clear here I will be feeding off the positive feelings from this premiere for  m o n t h s.

During the Q&A, someone asked me what the best part of making the show was. I said it was this one.

It really is.


Relationshit – Q & A

RELATIONSHIT – Season 1 Teaser from Ivy Jelisavac on Vimeo.

Q: Talk about the story and concept behind RELATIONSHIT. How did this idea come to you?
A: It’s a power move. Now I can threaten everybody I meet that I’ll put them in my show, so they have to behave!
On a more serious note, I spend a lot of thought on artistic responsibility: The stories we send out into the world shape expectations – life imitates art.
It was important to me to make something that wasn’t “boy meets girl, they fall in love, happily ever after.” So I did the opposite of that: Person meets person, they fall in love, oh no, oh dear, no no no, oooh crap.” But there’s also a lot of positive love and fun, because nothing is ever all bad or all good.

Q: Can you talk about the experience shooting and working with the team on this film?
A: It was humbling and magical. For so many exceptionally talented people to come together and give it their best, and to remain loyal to you and the project throughout a long and difficult completion process meant everything to me.
Any creator goes out on a limb when trying to get something off the ground, and there’s justified shame about asking people to work on no or low pay. Seeing highly skilled people believe so much in what was then my, but is now our, work, was one of the most motivating factors for me.

Q: Were there any challenges?
A: For sure. I financed this show from my earnings in corporate video production – like some sort of lunatic! – and because of the scope of this project, I had a team of over 50 cast & crew members working with me, shooting for 30 days at over 20 locations. For free! Since I was either going to pay everybody or nobody, it had to be the latter.

In situations like these it’s important that both production and the cast or crew member get something out of it, so I spent extra time ensuring things were the right fit. Actors got scenes for their portfolio, locations that allowed us to shoot there got a promo video of their business in return. It was time intensive, but the result I was able to produce is exponentially higher than what I could have made any other way on no budget.

We also had an actor disappear shortly before completing the show. After weighing all our options – re-casting, and re-shooting everything we already had, wasn’t possible – we decided to re-write a few scenes to make it all work.

Q: What advice would you give a filmmaker who wants to do something similar?
A: Going against the usual advice for web series writers, I did not write for production assets I had access to, I wrote a show I’d want to watch – then worked out the logistics. I joke that I didn’t know it was going to be impossible, so I just figured it out.
We got almost all of our brilliant locations without money changing hands: In exchange for the owner allowing us to shoot at their restaurant or store, we made a promo video for them. For residential locations, we used our personal networks.

Also, get 2-3 people to help in production.

This one’s going to feel counter intuitive but if you’re going low budget: Plan your shoot dates around your sound recordist. They are near impossible to find for free, and shoddy sound will ruin your project.

Q: How did you get cast with such impressive credits to work on Relationshit on no budget?
A: A truth in any business is that you will probably only be hired to do work you’ve already done. This means that actors who have thus far only shown one side of their talent will sometimes take unpaid work to get scenes for their showreel, or they might just have a personal interest in the role.

The other side is showing professionalism: Working hours and conditions can be brutal on low budget films, so unless you can prove that you know what you’re doing, you’ll have a hard time convincing people to sign on, let alone stay on.

Q: There are several positions – producer, costume designer, set designer – that I can’t see credited.
A: Yeah… I did all that. I know! Don’t try this at home!

So, I started out in the film industry at 15, interning on student films. Later, I worked as an AD as my day job before becoming a full time director. During that time, on 18 hour days, people would tell me that if I couldn’t handle the hours, I could get out of the industry.

I took as little BS then as I do now, so my response was “How about you organise your shoot a little better?!” I made up my mind to start a production company right then, and made a point of interning in almost every department in order to know what was realistic to expect, and where things can be made easier for those working in them.
That experience has helped me tremendously in taking on all the different roles.

Throughout, the quality of my directing was always paramount, so I ensured enough time to sort out everything else and then having headspace to prepare the scenes thoroughly.

Q: How come this took two and a half years to complete?
A: There’s a limited amount of pressure and expectation you can put on people who work unpaid. Everyone has to make the work they do for Relationshit fit their life both in terms of time and finance.

Even though we managed to film all but 3 days in the first two months of shooting, our cast & crew started getting really exciting roles like, oh, no big deal, STAR WARS.

Ingvild had to dye her naturally blonde hair dark brown for the role on short notice, and then painstakingly bleach it back in several increments over a span of months. Those things were the happy reasons for delays – we were so proud of her.

The unhappy ones were when two members of post-pro never delivered the work they said they had created, and we had to re-hire several positions several times.

And while some post production departments delivered absolutely stellar work, others needed a bit more quality control – that’s understandable though as often, people who will work unpaid are starting out and building portfolio, and both parties should end up enriched. It just means it took a little longer, and I really appreciated their time and effort.

IVY JELISAVAC (WRITER, DIRECTOR): Relationshit, Thick Air, A Short Little Eternity
Ivy Jelisavac is the creator of Relationshit. After interning in every film department to learn the ropes, she founded London production company The Friction. She invests in creating an ethical work environment and humane working conditions for crew, while providing high end services to clients like Greenpeace, TimeOut, trainline, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and many others.

She is currently developing her first feature.

You can follow Relationshit here:


Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions, I’m super happy to answer them.