Ellie Wen was born in Hong Kong and moved to Los Angeles when she was eight years old. After graduating from Standford university in film studies, she has directed and produced numerous shorts, documentaries and features and she's currently the head of development at Super Deluxe. This very personal documentary about her relationship with her mother was born out of necessity rather than choice, she recalls:
'I made 'Single Mother Only Daughter' during a UCLA Extension documentary course. I had originally set out to make a different documentary, but then on the eve of my shoot, my subject suddenly fell through. Up against the deadline, I was forced to think small and look at my own life for inspiration. And so I ended up making an intimate, personal documentary about the complicated relationship between me and my mom.
Every step of the way, I had doubts that it would even qualify as a documentary because it was so unconventional. I worried that it was too personal, perhaps to the point of being uncomfortable. But I knew I had to make it because it captured such an honest conversation between a parent and a child.'
'The scariest moment was when I showed it to outsiders for the first time. I nervously sat in the back as my small test audience watched the film. As the lights came back on, I watched people wipe their eyes and dab their splotchy faces. All the time while I was fretting that my documentary would be too personal and too revealing of my relationship with my mom, I never imagined that other people would relate to our specific dynamic and see themselves in it. In that moment, I discovered that it is truly in the specific that you find the universal.
In the end, working on the film turned out to be a very cathartic process. The conversation itself, and subsequently the film, brought me and my mom even closer. My mom told me that this film is the greatest gift I could ever have given her, and that’s the best reaction I could ever ask for.'