Born in Hollywood, Ellis began working in the film industry as a stuntman in his late teens. He was promoted as stunt coordinator in the 1981 and worked on over 70 films in a 20-year span, including Scarface, Lethal Weapon, and Fatal Attraction.
After working his way up to becoming an assistant director, Ellis then directed his first film in 1996 with Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco.
Following his directorial debut, Ellis segued into the thriller genre, churning out two Final Destination sequels and most notably, the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L. Jackson.
Growing up in the water as a junior pro surfer, his most recent project was the underwater horror film Shark Night. Amongst a slew of his upcoming unreleased thriller films, Ellis directed