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Career Girl: Film Producer, Writer and Director Nadia Wells

One of my wonderful friends, Nadia Wells (sometimes referred to on this blog as ‘Mrs N’) is a lawyer by day and a film producer, writer and director by night. She has her own film production company Perfect 10 Pictures and a few short films under her belt too, including her latest cabaret ‘Confessions of a Zombie Call Girl’ which will be played at the Short + Sweet Festival at the Powerhouse in Brisbane on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th July at 9.45pm in Strand 4.

Nadia writes, produces and directs and also has time for a ton of friends, cooking and spending time with her husband. She even helps with the ‘set design’ for my food photographs when we are out at dinner or having tea with KT. I asked this bubbly, lovely lady a few questions about herself and how she does it all!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
When I was about 8 years old I distinctly remember appearing in a school play as a lawyer. I got to wear this cool robe and everyone watched me speak, hanging off every word I said. Mum even crocheted her (yes … crochet!) one of those little white wigs that lawyers wear as part of the costume. I thought to myself, “This is awesome! I should do this when I grow up”.

So I did. The lawyer that is. That in itself has taken me on quite a journey from humble outback beginnings in Mount Isa, to Townsville for university and then to Sydney in 2008.

However, looking back, it was being a part of the school play that I was also drawn to, not just being the lawyer in it. Can’t really blame an 8 year old for getting that one slightly mixed up!

How did you find your passion?

I don’t think I ever really lost it, more rekindled it. I was always in school plays, mucking about with my best friend and partner-in-crime, and usually always part of Tournament of Minds (a problem solving challenge presented as a 10 minute style play). So for those who have known me since high school, they aren’t surprised.

Studying and practising law did set me on a particular path from university until 2013, when I founded Perfect 10 Pictures. I didn’t just jump straight into filmmaking and initially started off doing some script writing courses as I felt that was an easier transition with my legal background. I then did some short courses in producing and film making, where I got to meet a lot of people who I’ve since worked with. Once I rekindled the passion that was it.

Directing

What’s a day on the set like?
When you have a united and co-operative crew, all willing to pitch in and do their absolute best for you, totally amazing! Conversely, I won’t go into detail if you have a dysfunctional crew. I’ve also been incredibly lucky to meet some great people on the courses I have done, who have since been crew members. For the recent short film projects I’ve completed, I’ve had a great co-producer, Leon Berkovich at Mermaid Digital Media. We both bring different strengths and talents which creates a great dynamic partnership. Leon is great at getting things done. He’s not so great at directing – “One more take with 20% more sadness” is not a way to get the best performance from your actors! I guess that is where I come in.

If you can create a synergy on set you can then deal with anything. And unexpected issues and problems always come up! So I find that you need to be extremely adaptable and versatile, be able to communicate effectively, make (and own) decisions and be quick thinker.

One tip I will give for any indie producers/directors out there who may not be able to pay much for crew (or anything at all) – FEED YOUR CREW! A well fed crew is a happy crew. You don’t need to spend a fortune getting professional catering but it is the one thing you should never ever skimp on.

Tell us a little bit about your upcoming cabaret “Confessions of a Zombie Call Girl”?
Doesn’t the title say it all!

Confessions of a Zombie Call Girl chronicles the adventures of Danielle, who was one of the most in demand high level escorts going around. That is, until human kind was savaged by an infection, turning the world into the walking dead, or in Danielle’s case, the street-walking dead. But now, in this new post-apocalyptic world, the sex industry is literally … dead. Will Danielle find her new place in this man-eat-man world?

Final poster

I get to work again with Bobbi-Lea Dionysius at Drama Queen Productions and my bestie, the drop dead gorgeous (sorry – couldn’t help myself), Kylie Stephenson, who also co-wrote the script with me. We all worked together to bring “The Art of Break-Ups” to the Short+Sweet Festival in Brisbane in 2013 and it was an absolute no-brainer (sorry –did it again) to team up again with these lovely, inspired ladies.

Where is it that you get your best ideas?
I get inspiration from everywhere – movies and TV I’m watching, conversations with friends, weekend brunch with my husband, sitting on the train, dreams and everyday life. Inspiration for my last project “Reflections of War” came from the 100 year anniversary of the battle of Gallipoli. Usually it starts out as a simple concept or theme I want to explore and then I develop it further into a story.

Where do you write most of the time?
I don’t really have a set place. Sometimes at home, sometimes at work (after hours of course!).

As a #girlboss without an office (yet!), where do you have meetings or work?
Lindt cafés are great because they are usually easily recognisable and a destination point, particularly if I have cast and crew who aren’t familiar with the CBD. They also open after business hours which makes it convenient for me. And who can pass up a hot choccie on a cold winter’s day for inspiration.

A brunch hotspot with my hubbie (he is a great listener, even if he isn’t providing his own inspiration and ideas) is Small Bar in Kirribilli.

Finally, walking across the bridge or swimming at North Sydney pool are great ways to find some time for yourself to nut out plot or story problems in your head.

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Can you share any pretty/interesting locations in Sydney where you have shot scenes that only locals may know?
For my first short film “Crossing Over” I got to film at a cemetery in Scarborough, just north of Wollongong (it also happened to be Friday the 13th!). It’s on cliffs overlooking the coast line and is just stunning. According to the locals it is also a very “active” cemetery and I did wonder whether my fictional short was going to end up as a documentary as we were filming at night!

But probably my favourite place to film so far has been in Leon’s backyard where we re-created a WW1 trench for “Reflections of War”. With a bit of planning, a trip to Bunnings and a recyclers in Marrickville we created something incredible.

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Can you share some tips on how to find time to balance a passion with work and friends/husband?
When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like it’s a chore or hard to find the time, even after a long day at work. I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband who understands that I have an extroverted and boisterous personality and enjoy collaborating with people as part of the creative process. As long as I don’t do it at home! He’s also extremely important for when I need to slow down and avoid burning out. The time you spend away from it, is often more important that the time you spend doing it.

My friends are a fabulous source of inspiration and extremely supportive. Having your best friend as a co-writer and lead means that we are completely honest with each other about a script idea or performance. We are always open to each other’s suggestions and continue to push each other creatively.

When I look back I realise how far I’ve come, from silly songs and plays in primary school in Mount Isa to … wait a minute!

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If you happen to be in Brisbane next weekend you can see ‘Confessions of a Zombie Girl’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Strand 4 at 9.45pm (both Friday and Saturday). Let me know what it’s like!

Maadz xox

Image credit: Final image via Pinterest.

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