A rebellious Native teen and her cousin lost in the desert are haunted by an ancient Apache mountain spirit.
As an award-winning writer and director in the Sci-fi, Thriller and Horror categories, Nicol Eilers brings a distinctive worldview born of her experience growing up in numerous European and US cities as part of a multi-cultural military family. Bringing humanity and personal stories to genre films with a visual sensibility born of her work in photography and music, she fuses hard science with singular characters that show us a world full of perils and rewards.
What draws you to the language of cinema?
I’m drawn to the art of telling stories. I’m infatuated with the visuals, as well as the written word. I love collaborating with other filmmakers. It’s one of the best parts of cinema, besides watching your words come to life.
How and when did you start studying films?
I studied film at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Although, I took the long route to becoming a filmmaker. I studied acting first, then, studied voice with a colorful Russian ex-opera singer. I fell in with a group of photographers and became interested in visual arts, largely due to my admiration for the Centre for Creative Photography museum.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created?
Most of my friends at university were media arts students. I was one of two other female students at the time. We literally lived and breathed films, reverse-engineered how the filmmakers created them, and supported each other as crew on our no budget film sets, which usually meant gorilla-style filmmaking.
My first project was to shoot an arty interpretation of fear on Super 8 film. I have vague memories of my partner filming some guy chasing me around a newly constructed mansion with a meat cleaver. In hindsight, I’m sure the neighbors weren’t amused.
Please name a few directors who have been influential in your work and why?
My biggest influences are Ridley Scott, Guillermo Del Toro, and Andrew Niccol. BLADERUNNER is my favorite film of all time. The monologue by Roy Batty still brings me to tears. I admire them for their point-of-view, their visual acuity, and the stories they choose to tell. I love darker stories that reflect on humanity’s double-edged sword. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re astounding world-builders.
How difficult is it to find the right audience for an indie film and what is your distribution strategy?
The right audience is really dictated by getting the word out on social media when it comes to an indie film. It’s helped by having it play on the film festival circuit because it can raise the film’s profile. I haven’t had a distribution strategy with previous films as they’ve been shorts.
What was the inspiration behind the making of Superstition?
The inspiration was the Superstition Mountains. It’s a character in its own right. The mountains are formidable.There’s disappearances there and strange on-goings that have all shaped the myth of buried treasure. It evolved with the Apache mythology of spirits guarding the doors to an Underworld in the Superstitions which was infinitely more fascinating. The Superstitions are sacred Apache lands as part of the Tonto National forest. They're connected to Oak Flat, another sacred land, which is being transferred to an international mining company and slated to be turned into a copper mine.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
It can change the world by raising awareness. It can have an impact on society by opening dialogue on topics which may not typically be discussed. My daughter said this about EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE on why it was her favorite film: I love movies that ask yourself about your life, and the way this movie portrays the question “If this is your worst life, would you stay in it?”
A filmmaker that provokes a response in his or her audience is a success in my opinion because it means that the story has transcended from being something you passively watch into something that you actively feel. It’s really all we could ever hope for as artists.
Please tell us about your next project.
I’m currently working on a Horror film with my writing partner, Linda Scarlett. We’re really pushing ourselves with this project to create a world that hasn’t been seen before. It’s been a blast to create it with her.