Exclusive Interview with Ingrid Nachstern -Director/Screenwriter/Choreographer
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.
Ingrid Nachstern is the Artistic Director of her company, Night Star Dance Company. She was a translator and a classical ballet teacher in another life. She is Anglo-Polish. She has created 15 works and three films. Her films (Table Manners/Stopping at Red Lights, Freedom-to go! and Shoe Horn/Office) have been screened internationally (New York, Los Angeles, London) won multiple awards.
She is the Director/Screenwriter/Choreographer/Performer for her films. In addition, she has performed in DTW (her solo) and MoMA (Steve Paxton’s work) New York, Lincoln Centre for Buglisi Dance, in Sari Nordman’s film A Dadaesque Collage of Chauvinist Wisdom, Barcelona (BIDE),Buenos Aires (BAIDE) to name a few. She has been on the Experimental Jury for the Brooklyn Film Festival 2020 and for Ethografilm 2020. She is also registered with agencesilver.com in Paris under Countess Tyraska (the name of her paternal great grandmother).She now lives in London, plans to spend more time in Paris post-pandemic and attends daily ballet class. / www.nightstardancecompany.com
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.
As a child, I was very interested in games-volleyball and rounders. I adored gym classes at school and I nearly trained as a gym instructor when I left school. I was also passionate about languages and did a degree in modern languages, at Trinity College Dublin. I subsequently worked as a translator.
NY Glam: Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry?
I had no specific influences on me growing up to lead me into the film industry. My father was a classical violinist and that seemed glamorous to me! His clothes –white bow-tie and tails-would be laid out for him (by my mother!) before a concert.
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a film dealing with cosmetic surgery. Just before the pandemic hit, I was about to film one scene from the film. I think young women, and girls, are under unbelievable pressure to have the ‘perfect’ body. This is much more so the case than when I was growing up in the 1960s.
NY Glam: What were your main responsibilities on this film?
My main responsibilities in Shoe Horn/Office were many as I was the Director, Screenwriter, Choreographer and Performer in it.
NY Glam: Can you tell us about your experience in working with your team in this film?
I have worked with the same Cinematographer (Luca Truffarelli) on my last three films. We work extremely well together. Also I always need my cast to give 150 %(!), and this was needed on this shoot as it rained more or less continuously on the second day of a two day shoot. No one complained and we got the film done by 10.00pm on the second day.
NY Glam: What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint?
What I wanted to transmit to the audience, in this film, was a bird’s eye view of toxic masculinity (the sexist ‘banter’, inappropriate behavior in the office, the aftermath of rape). I also wanted to draw attention to the restrictive nature of women’s clothing throughout the ages (foot binding, Victorian corsets and colossal high heels).
NY Glam: What makes a film interesting for you? What are three qualities that you look for in a movie?
A film must engage me at some level –emotionally, visually. Boredom is the worse reaction that I can have to a film. Three qualities that I look for in a movie are pace, coherence and artistry in the very broadest sense of the word.
NY Glam: What project helped you launch your career?
My first film Table Manners/Stopping at Red Lights (2014) helped to launch my career. It was originally a live dance work (30 min) and we turned it into a 7 ½ min film. It was taken up, in 2015, by Live Action Shorts in Montana, USA .This was the first time my work had been seen in the States. It also won the Silver Screen Award at the Nevada International Film Festival in 2015.It was given a Recognition Award by both the Accolade Global Film Competition and Best Shorts in San Diego, California, 2015.It was also screened at the American Dance Festival’s 2015 International Screen dance Festival in North Carolina, USA. The fact that my film had been selected and screened at festivals in the States was very rewarding. No one wants to make a film and have it languish with no audience!
NY Glam: What criteria do you have for your team? ?
All my team members must commit 150% to the project in hand! Otherwise it makes the job of getting the film in the can too difficult. I am lucky that I have a marvelous team.
NY Glam: What are you most proud of? Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
I am most proud of my film receiving the Best Experimental Film Award at the Los Angeles Movie Awards in 2019. I luckily was able to attend the ceremony at The Complex, Hollywood. I was very excited to be in Hollywood with all the connotations of glamour and excitement that that evokes! We have since won two awards in Los Angeles from Venice Shorts and LA Sun Film Fest in 2020.
NY Glam: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
As an Experimental Screenwriter I have more leeway in creating a character than in a narrative film. All aspects of the character in question must coalesce. For example, Michael Cooney and Donking Rongavilla, who play the misogynist bosses in Shoe Horn/Office, had to be seen to be sexist in their leisure time -having sexist ‘banter’-in addition to exploiting the power dynamic in the office with their secretary, Millie Daniel-Dempsey. Cooney’s character is then fleshed out to include casual cruelty with him truly dominating his secretary in bringing her for a walk on his dog lead.
NY Glam: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My ambitions for my writing career is to get my next film, my fourth, finished and in the can! A lot of the script is already written and I am just waiting for the pandemic to be over so I can move on with this!
NY Glam: Can you tell us about your company Night Star Dance and your career as a choreographer?
I established my company, Night Star Dance Company, in 2003.I have created about 16 works for the company. Table Manners/Stopping at Red Lights and Freedom-to go! Were both originally live dance works. My third film, Shoe Horn/Office, was my first film not to be a dance work initially. My focus before filmmaking was on choreography. Now my focus has shifted slightly to the script.
NY Glam: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re super excited about?
I am excited about my next project which will deal with cosmetic surgery and the pressure young women are under to have the ‘perfect’ body.
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director?
The only advice that I would give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director, is that you must be driven to do it and be passionate about it! The whole process, from an idea on paper to getting it in the can, can be quite difficult. Half-hearted interest will not get it done!!
NY Glam: Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regard to film making?
As for the future, I imagine that I will continue making films as long as I have something to say. My dance mentor, the wonderful Christine Devaney, suggested my making a feature film! That seems a bit scary at the moment, but never say never! And my other mantra is #neverletanyonewreckyourbuzz!