Los Angeles-based actress, writer and producer Rose Di Nardo joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about an exciting upcoming project and the importance of creating your own opportunities.
Q: You are in pre-production for your first feature film, ‘A Sequoia On Fire’. Can you tell us about this story and whether it is inspired by your own personal experiences or something else?
A: A Sequoia on Fire is about a small town writer named Sadie. When she is unable to pay her rent, she decides she has nothing left to lose and travels across the country to California in search of freedom through the open road. This is a story about a girl growing into a woman and discovering her own independence and authentic voice. I noticed that there were not many films out there about female writers and travelers in a lead role.
I would say there are definitely some personal experiences that I drew from for inspiration but the story is not autobiographical. I took things that really inspired me like travel, writing, and the need for freedom and feeling empowered in yourself as a person. It was important for me to show the arc of her growth as she discovers herself and who she really is and how she can stand on her own.
Q: How did you find the process of writing your first feature screenplay?
A: I worked with my friend and amazing writer Michael Herman and we developed the story together. It was a very collaborative process and we are so happy with the final version and can’t wait to see it come to life! It was incredible creating this world and taking lots of little elements that mean a lot to me and drawing from real life experiences.
I watched tons of movies about being on the road and about writers and also found so much inspiration there. It was such a great experience especially when you have a great team.
Q: You will also play the lead role. How excited are you to embody and experience this character on a different level after writing her in the screenplay?
A: Very excited! I feel like I know Sadie so well and her journey and I can’t wait to bring her to life. Michael definitely gave her such a great voice, exactly as I imagined her to be. It’s surreal because it feels very personal to tell her story, especially one that means so much.
Q: This project shows that you are a proactive creator. How important for you is it to get out there and create your own opportunities?
A: Thank you! It is SO important not to wait for opportunities to come to you and always be proactive in creating new work. It is a lot of hard work, moments of self doubt, and pushing forward. I want to encourage anyone who is thinking about embarking on their own creative pursuit not to worry about what your background is and just do it! If you have a strong idea and the passion for it, you can truly make anything happen.
Q: It must take a certain drive to put yourself out there and create your own opportunities. What drives you as a creative person? And what constitutes success for you?
A: It definitely does. When I’m working on projects, I can be a little obsessive. When I’m creating something that is important to me all I want to do is spend time on it. What drives me is the feeling of taking everything you have inside and turning it into art and something meaningful. Creating is a powerful, cathartic experience.
Success for me means always being an active part of the industry and collaborating with other artists to create work that will move people.
Q: You’ve worked on a number of projects including the Investigation Discovery Channel’s ‘Betrayed’ and ‘The Mad Whale’. Is there a particular memory from your time in the industry that sticks out – as a learning moment or something else meaningful?
A: I don’t know if there was a particular moment. I would say the biggest lesson is that you are always learning, as terribly cliché as that sounds. No matter how far you get, once you get there you discover that you can always learn more. It’s dangerous to think that you have it all figured out.
Each project is always meaningful because I get so much joy from the creative and collaborative process in every aspect of film.
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for the coming years?
A: I want to continuing creating, whether it be acting, writing, directing, or producing. I truly love it all! I just started my own production company called RAD Productions so I can’t wait to get new projects on board.
I am really excited about a couple of new films I am writing. It’s important for me to stay busy and keep the momentum going by throwing myself into something new. Collaboration is key because you can have an idea on your own, but it really takes a dedicated team who believe in each other to make things happen. That’s why it’s so important to find your people and just create! You don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission to follow your dreams.
Title image by Bernard Bella