In conversation with Oscar-winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell

12 October, 2023

Screen and Film School Brighton were delighted to kick off a year of exciting masterclasses with a visit from the multi award winning writer, director, producer and actor, Emerald Fennell.

Emerald Fennell is no stranger to success. Her feature film directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, made a significant impact at the 2020 Academy Awards, winning Best Original Screenplay and receiving four additional nominations, including Best Picture. Emerald also made history by becoming one of only seven women, and the first British woman, to be nominated for Best Director. Having previously earned two Primetime Emmy nominations as showrunner for season two of Killing Eve, and with acting credits including acclaimed productions such as The Crown, Call the Midwife, The Danish Girl and Barbie, Emerald Fennell has undeniably solidified her place as a multifaceted force in the entertainment industry.

“It’s so amazing, honestly I can’t get over this place. I would have loved to have come here so much!” – Emerald Fennell on Brighton Film Studios

Hosted at our very own Brighton Film Studios, over 60 students were invited to share the room with the critically acclaimed filmmaker. Questions were submitted from students at all four of our filmmaking facilities, as well as from our sister college, ICTheatre. Fennell, with her trademark authenticity, offered profound insights and invaluable advice, igniting a spark within each aspiring filmmaker and setting them off brilliantly on their filmmaking journeys.  

“I think the biggest hurdle [I’ve faced] was my own terror of letting go.” – Emerald Fennell on the biggest hurdle she’s faced in her career so far 

Sam Stacey, a student from Screen and Film School Manchester, travelled all the way to Brighton for the masterclass. He had this to say about the experience:  

“I had a brilliant time, and it was more than worthwhile. Thank you for being so welcoming. The staff and students were really friendly, and the class was fantastic. I found it really beneficial and was so glad I made the trip down to Brighton for this experience. Emerald Fennell was so open about her experience in her many roles throughout the industry, and it was amazing to hear about.” 

Emeralds upcoming second feature, Saltburn, has been described as a “beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire.. The film boasts an impressive cast, including Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and a reunion with Carey Mulligan. Saltburn had its world premiere as the opening film of the 67th BFI London Film Festival on October 4, 2023, and the reception was nothing short of stellar. Critics and audiences alike have been singing its praises, and it promises to be another significant milestone in Emerald Fennell’s illustrious career. 

“See everything, look at everything, watch everything. Not just films, not just TV, but every art show, every book, every magazine.” – Emerald Fennell on her advice for aspiring filmmakers 

A huge thank you to Emerald for her time and advice, and of course to our wonderful students for submitting their questions and making this masterclass such an exciting event! 



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