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On A List

On A List​ is a short content series about doing the most vulnerable and difficult tasks as a means to fall in love. The film is a Canadian production and it is directed by Lee Foster, Tito Guillen, and Nicole Simone. It is our pleasure to intrerview Nicole Simone for LA Indies. The film was recently an official selection of Venice Shorts of California.

What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?

I made this project off the back of wanting to try something new, explore how to fast track a relationship and what that might be like. I really just wanted to make something, and after the first month or two of the pandemic I knew I had to do it. I think there's a part of being single just feeling exhausted by options and dating, and just really placing a bet on yourself to win. That's kind of what this project is all about in a lot of ways. It's a woman lead project and that's been interesting, I'm happy to be in the captain's seat but just as content to learn and evolve with the projects.

What is the most challenging aspect of working in this genre?

The most challenging aspect of working in the dramedy/rom com was keeping things natural, funny but sincere and vulnerable. There were several intimacy scenes and that was difficult to map out and make sure everyone's boundaries were respected while getting the story across authentically. There were a lot of zoom rehearsals going over the script, talking about what worked what didn't. I had never acted before, so this was a big stretch but Darch and I had a mutual respect for how things would work. We spent time working on the project, maybe a couple dozen hours. When I watch the film back, it feels like it paid off.

When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?

On A List was the first project I've created. My background is in music and charity work. This was a stretch in a way that I'd never acted, directed or written before but in another way it was familiar with performing (music) and problem solving (charitable work). I had applied to film school right out of high school but a series of unfortunate circumstances made that difficult and I ended up pursuing music and animal welfare work instead. I worked at a record store which was next to a dwindling VHS store and I would watch whatever they had, so I definitely had the film bug but didn't know where to place it until now.

How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production?

Since we shot in the summer of 2020, the cast was myself and James Darch. I found him through an acting website and he just fit the part. I didn't think twice or audition anyone. He sent in a tape with some of the script and then we chased him down and he agreed to play Harry! Tito Guillen was an old friend who flew in from Edmonton to Toronto to help get the first few episodes in the can with our DP Fred Yurichuk. Lee Foster joined the project as a director for the remainder of the episodes and he recommended a great editor named Mike Donis who really helped gel the project together.

What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on?

As Tom Waits said "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things". I really like the dichotomy of drama and comedy mixed with love and psychology. Sophia Coppola, Norah Ephron, Mike Mills, Drake Doremus - those are some of my favorite filmmakers. I think they have their own beautiful aesthetic and tell really compelling stories about love and loss.

How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society? 7- What is your next film project as a director?

Storytelling is often making up something from nothing, and that's kind of the closest thing we have to magic on earth. I think cinema is a big part of that, you can change the world, even if just for an hour or two for someone. When I look back at World War II, people relied on the cinema and then I look to 2020 lock downs and how much people relied on film and television to get them through to remember a world larger than their living room. Seeing yourself represented, whether physically or emotionally, is so important to keep us connected and feel relevant in the world. A love story we can lament with, a heroin that we can cheer for, it's all important.

What is your next film project as a director?

I am working on Season two of On A List set to shoot this June. Working with other co-stars and letting the project evolve in a really fun way. I'm really excited for it. I am heavily eyeing a feature film. I really hope to shoot outside of Toronto, with my eyes on Texas, California and England. I have hopes of making a Halloween film set in the 90s, and tie in some of my animal welfare experience into a heart wrenching dog rescue movie set in North-East Texas. I'm really excited to write, create and act. I hope to take a step back from acting and just write and direct. There's only so many hats I'm willing to wear in one day.

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