Nadia talks about access to the industry, budgets and supporting diverse voices.
What made you want to work in film?
My grandad was a projectionist, and my dad would tell my brother and I stories about how he’d watch classics over and over from the projection booth (very Cinema Paradiso!). When we’d visit my dad every other Saturday we’d watch movies and eat kebab/Burger King (that’s all he could afford), so I’m sure this is where my love of film (and junk food) came from.
At uni and beyond I started making short films, inspired by the sheer creativity of music videos and by those black-and-green Artificial Eye DVDs that I always felt smug renting. I then made it a point to focus my career on this industry – from MTV’s Screenplay, to a film school, a cinema chain and most recently the BFI.
If you could recommend one film to an aspiring filmmaker, what would it be?
Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (1999). It’s been described as a ‘tone poem’ and I do think the film has a poetic quality to it, but it’s also accessible and unpretentious. It’s rich, electric and vivid but also quiet and brooding; Denis and her creative collaborators manage to get the balance just right (and that final scene is just *chef’s kiss*). It’s a masterclass in what film can be – and I see echoes of it in other work, most recently Titane (2021).
What are you most excited about for your new role?
I’m keen to find and support diverse voices and see them flourish. As someone from an ethnically diverse background I’m well aware of the barriers in this industry, and want to encourage others to not limit their ideas to what they think might be expected of them: I’m excited to be challenged and inspired by the talent in the south west.
What advice would you give to a filmmaker whose project has been rejected?
Whenever I’ve been rejected I’ve used it to light a fire beneath me, to come back better and stronger and prove everyone wrong. Ultimately, would you regret trying again? Permit me to pull out that famous hockey quote: ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’.
If you could make one change to the film industry, what would it be?
To encourage/train hiring teams to make film industry roles more accessible – be it in terms of (quite often) unreasonable experience expectations, to pay, location, terminology and job ads themselves. There’s so much talent out there who don’t get a look in because of undisclosed salaries, lazy hiring practices, nepotism and bias, when all that’s needed is an open mind.
Who is a filmmaker that has really inspired you?
There are two recent ones actually: Mark Jenkin for his sheer tenacity and one-man-band singular style of filmmaking, and Sean Baker for his creative mind and ability to pull off ideas and scripts that shouldn’t work but always do.
What is the key to a great collaboration?
Don’t be an asshole: treat partners and crew with respect. Listen to everyone’s opinion but be smart about what advice you take, quite often people just want to feel heard.
What makes a perfect pitch?
If you find out please tell me… I suppose, something that starts with a bang (nothing cheesy though – maybe a question or a quote or a couple of comp titles) to give flavour, followed by colour and detail without being verbose. And also, something that’s true to you as the creator. Simple right?!
What’s your favourite line from a film?
“What's the most you ever lost in a coin toss?”