A Candid Interview with Nicole Quinn
– by Heidi Philipsen
Film and Theater Director Nicole Quinn recently joined UPWIFT (Upstate NY Women in Film & TV – a sister of NYWIFT) as a Guest Speaker of their quarterly Reel Women Screening Series at WAMC’s The Linda, in Albany, NY, where they screened her narrative feature “Racing Daylight.”
NYWIFT caught up with her in the filmmaker’s lounge:
1.) HOW DID YOU END UP BECOMING A DIRECTOR?
Necessity. I never found anyone who was as committed as I was to getting my projects made.
2.) WHAT IS YOUR WORK METHODOLOGY AS A DIRECTOR?
I think the director’s job is to be a benign dictator ruling over a country of artists, in the land of ten thousand questions. Someone has to see the big picture and say yes or no. Defend the story, the actors, the characters, the crew, the money, and the producers, with a light hand and a smile if you can muster it.
3.) WHAT ARE THE CONSTRUCTIONS AGAINST WHICH YOU MUST DESPISE WORKING?
I don’t enjoy a set built on a class system. I’m in favor of hiring the most creative people to head their departments, and then letting them do that without a lot of over the shoulder looking. I will only hire the kindest of those creative people, those not prone to tantrums and a “look at me” approach to the work.
4.) WHAT ARE THE BOUNDARIES THAT SERVE YOU AS A STORYTELLER/CREATIVE ARTIST, IF ANY?
I was raised in a theocracy, and by that I mean Catholic school for 12 years, 9 of those in boarding schools run by nuns. I’m of mixed ethnicity, adopted by African American professionals, who chose to be activists. I have sense of social responsibility ingrained, and years of dogma to analyze. This is my box, my baggage.
5.) RACE FORWARD FIFTY YEARS – HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WE, AS A SOCIETY, WOULD LOOK BACK AT THESE TIMES?
I’ve jumped over a million years ahead in “The Gold Stone Girl.”
If you want to know what I think might happen from this trajectory, give the books a read. It took me eight years to formulate those thoughts. I think I’ll leave 50 years to someone else.
6.) WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO MAKE IT A MORE EVEN PLAYING FIELD FOR YOU TO SUSTAINABLY CREATE?
Let’s be real, if women make up only 6% of the history books, as if we weren’t there, or, as if our lives were unimportant to these world events, why should we be surprised that we are underrepresented and objectified elsewhere? We are 51%. Let’s act like it. Stop asking for permission and let’s just make shit happen! That’s what I tell myself.
7.) WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PASSION PROJECT?
I’m looking for artistic partners to collaborate with to make “The Gold Stone Girl” mini-series. Melissa Leo has already expressed an interest in playing Dee-Dee the foster mother to the protagonist.
I would set out to hire Amma Assante to direct the pilot and cast Zoe Kravitz as Mina and Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Viola Davis or Maggie Smith to play the Night Mare, in this hero’s journey that pushes an anti-feminist dystopia as the norm, and then offers us a way out.
8.) WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE FOR WOMEN IN FILM TODAY?
That we didn’t have to be women in film, but could be just filmmakers. I’ve never liked the modifiers I’ve worn, black actor, woman writer of color over 40, ticking three EEOC boxes at once. Stories are human. Stories that endure are about the large arcs we all share, birth and death, love, lust, and hate. Add in the holy trinity – shame, blame and guilt, and we realize how much we all have in common, even if the costumes and locations are site specific, ethnic.
Heidi Philipsen is a member of NYWIFT, UPWIFT, Chicago WIFT, PGA, SAG-AFTRA and co-director of This Is Nowhere ,which is currently in post-production. Follow the film on Twitter at @ThisIsNowhere_.
Leave a Reply
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Katrina Montgomery
Please join us in welcoming new NYWIFT member Katrina Montgomery! Katrina is an NYC filmmaker with an affinity for the Bronx, the neighborhood where she grew up and still considers home. Katrina served as both Director and Director of Photography for Get Away For A Day with Allyshia Renay, which aired on BRIC, MNN, and BronxNet. Currently, she is studying film directing at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema and will be receiving her diploma shortly. Katrina spoke to us about her inspirations, using comedy to tackle tough topics, and lessons learned from a successful fundraising campaign.READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Chloë Levine
Welcome to NYWIFT, new member Chloë Levine! Chloë is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as an actress, director, screenwriter, and producer. Learn more about Chloë as we discuss her 2014 debut short that earned praise at a well-known film festival, some of the screen goddesses that served as her muses during her earlier years, and the wide range of projects she has contributed to artistically, in addition to other fun topics!READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Priya Mishra
Welcome to NYWIFT, Priya Mishra! Priya is an award-winning screenwriter and director. She wrote, directed, and co-produced her debut short film Bath Bomb in 2019. Currently, Bath Bomb and Only Business, the second film she directed, are both having successful runs on the festival circuit. A queer second-generation Indian immigrant, and a girl who lost her mom during her junior year of college, Priya’s work centers love, grief, acceptance, social-critique, and embracing your anger. Priya hopes that her work will make audiences feel more connected with other human beings, more angry at the state of the world, and more willing to improve it by embracing vulnerability and kindness. Priya spoke to us about identity, wildly fun times on set, and exploring grief through her creative work.READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Edna Luise Biesold
Welcome to NYWIFT, new member Edna Luise Biesold! Edna is a German-born and New York-based filmmaker who honed her craft at NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a special focus on cinematography. She received the Franz Wieser Grant from ARRI as DP for the fantasy short film The Molok. She co-wrote and co-directed The Color of Time, and is presently developing 3 Monkeys, a screenplay which earned her a Creative Career Design Fellowship from NYU's Production Lab in 2022. Most recently, Sunscreen, her first film in ASL, has won her a Best Narrative Short award at 1904 Deaf Film Festival and the NYWIFT Award for Excellence in Directing at the 2022 SOHO International Film Festival. Edna spoke to us about her favorite collaborators, the challenges of lighting 16-foot tall puppets, and exploring the subtleties of communication throughout her work.READ MORE
Smart. But I shouldn’t be surprised. ‘Racing Daylight’ is one of my favorite films.
Keep creating, Neeks, and let the world catch up!