Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021

Nicole Stuart 
40ish...
nicolestuart.com
US - 25 min

A 40-year-old actress puts her life on hold to pursue her dream of "making it" in Hollywood. But she won't face the reality, that her age and how many followers she has, dictates the rules, as a mis-judgement for talent.

 

Hi Nicole, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have these Covid times been offering you any new creative opportunities or inspiration?

It’s interesting because the timing of finishing our short film fell into the middle of covid, and we were able to spend more time on the edit, instead of trying to rush it and enter into festivals. It gave me way more time to sit with the editor and really carve the film out. But when we finished, we weren’t sure what to do, because many festivals were cancelled, or only online and then not taking as many films, so that was hard to swallow. But this time did give me a lot more time to focus on other creative opportunity’s and my other writing projects, which has been a great inspiration.

Congratulations on having 40ish... part of this year's Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?

It’s an incredibly exciting experience, I'm almost still taking it in and can’t wait to be there and experience all of it, it’s really a dream come true.  More importantly, it is true Validation. 


You've already had a great reception for 40ish... with multiple nominations for Best Script & Best Director nomination at Women's Comedy Film Festival Atlanta Georgia, what has it meant to you both to get this type of recognition for your short film? 

Thank you, it feels incredible that people are getting the film and my story. It has been such a dark time and I'm really happy to have made a comedy during it. Also, the INYFF was nominated for best actress, director and screenplay.

How much of your own life and experiences made it into your screenplay?

Pretty much all of it. Everyone always says to write about what you know… So I wrote from years of personal experiences trying to break into the industry and use as much from my personal life as possible, I hope it comes through and hits people from an authentic and personal place,

As the writer, producer and star of 40ish, how did you balance all these creative roles on a project like this?

I have to say while producing it and organizing the many things I had too, was challenging, and I couldn’t have done it without every single person involved, it was a complete success but I did have this moment about a week before shooting when I was figuring out some logistics when I thought omg, I hope I know my lines, and that I can pull this off, I’m in every scene… and then I showed up the first day, on set, and I was looking around at everyone and thought, this is like a real production, I couldn’t believe it, we had the most amazing cast and crew, they all brought on their A-game and I felt like this throughout the entire shoot and by having that... it gave me the confidence and helped me balance everything that was expected of me.

"Some I agreed with but I stuck to my vision and idea of what I wanted to tell and I can look at the film and know this is what I wanted it to be and I’m proud of all the work I did in it."

Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?

I’m 100% happy with it, I wish we could have shot more takes here and there and made it longer like a feature, but that’s for the next script I wrote, which is based on the same characters, the short was the prequel and I’m so excited to bring Natalie, more to life, and tell more of her story, in her next chapter after 40ish...

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking? 

 

I’ve always wanted to act and then started writing because I felt way more empowered rather than waiting for someone to pick me and this short was written out of the thought of making lemonade out of years of lemons, I set out to write something serious and from the pain and years of rejection came comedy because I mean you can’t make this stuff up sometimes. But my passion is for all of it, great plays, great writing, the classics, and great films which I feel are so far and few these days, they’re not like the films from the ’70s and ’80s.

How much has your approach to your work changed since you started off in the industry?

As crazy as this seems I don’t care so much about what others think about my work and choices, for example, a lot of people wanted to make this short a shorter film but when they showed me the 13-minute cut it felt like it wasn’t the story I was trying to tell and it lost a lot of the humour and nuances that are in the 25-minute version, which made it fall into a different category,  it was a tough choice for me to go against the grain and leave certain scenes in the film that others suggest I cut out. Some I agreed with but I stuck to my vision and idea of what I wanted to tell and I can look at the film and know this is what I wanted it to be and I’m proud of all the work I did in it.

Do you have any advice or tips you would offer anyone about making their own short?

Just make it, go for it, everything’s a crapshoot, but you never really will know unless you just write it, do it, and make it. And you always learn so much, in everything, I’ve ever done, I’ve always learned so much. And one thing always leads into the next, and you must follow that path and your heart's desire.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from 40ish...?

I know there are way more important things happening in the world like; the Me Too Movement and BLM and this is not trying to be any of those things, but women and ageing in Hollywood are never really discussed, and it is a really big thing, especially during this time when we are all talking about fairness, and behind the mystic of Hollywood, lies a reality of what I’m saying, it’s very far and few in-between when you hear of any women breaking into the business after her 30’s, if ever. I hope to bring more awareness, to that, but more importantly, I hope people find it interesting, to see what actors go through, in the industry, and I hope they take away the importance of never giving up, along with laughter and a smile.