Born in Bloomington, Indiana to a film professor and film archivist, Nicholas Anderson always wanted to be a film director. Nicholas is named after Rebel Without A Cause director, Nicholas Ray. Graduated from Indiana University in 2020 with a degree in Psychology. He made his debut short “Empty Nester” at the age of 20, in 2019. It has gone on to be selected in a variety of festivals and winning awards. He went on to make another short the following year, “The Ungrateful Son: A Grimm Tale,” based off of the paragraph long story by the Brothers Grimm. He continues to produce shorts, such as “The SkinWalker,” which is anticipated to finish production by mid-2020, and an adaptation of Joyce’s “The Dead.” Nicholas is inspired by many of the works of filmmakers from The Golden Age, and experiments with color and hidden cuts.
You have received a psychological education. But you always wanted to make movies. Why didn’t you go to film school?
Quite frankly, I was worried that I would never be able to get a job. When I was deciding where to get an education and what to get an education in, I had it narrowed down to New York University and my eventual choice and hometown school, Indiana University. Ultimately, I made my decision based on financial responsibility, that a lack of debt and student loans would actually give me the freedom to do what I want and figure out who I want to be, which, I know now, is a filmmaker.
Is cinema a hobby or profession for you? What do you do for a living?
I hope that it will develop into a profession, that’s the goal at least. Then again, it’s hard to imagine calling something I love so much a profession. It just seems unreal that the hobby that I’ve spent all my free time on, and basically every waking hour, could become what I do for a living. Since I’m only a very recently graduated student, I’ve only done odd jobs here or there to this point to fund my films, the one I’ve spent the most time with was as a youth soccer coach, and yes, I know how American that makes me sound.
How do you see your further development in the cinema?
I’ve actually been trying to take advantage of all my free time in quarantine to write a feature-length script. Actually, I’m working on two scripts right now. The first is a coming-of-age story in 1950s West Texas and the other is a modern-day, folkloric, ghost horror story. The plan is to, hopefully, get these scripts turned into features and to direct them as well.
How do you think the film industry will change after the pandemic? How do you see your film career in the new post-coronavirus world?
I actually think the film industry is one that isn’t going to change that much. There has been a trend over the last decade of less mid-major budget films, and more of the extremes of low budget and very high budget movies. Given that this is based off of profit and efficiency, and less about filmmaking, I think that this is going to be even more prominent post-pandemic. It’s a shame, but that’s how things have been for some time now. On the other hand, it has pushed a lot of these middle-level projects to television, so there has been an explosion of excellent television lately, that wouldn’t have existed outside of channels like HBO before. Look at Better Call Saul, that’s not something that would have existed fifteen years ago, but it’s better most movies these days.
Your film “The Ungrateful Son: A Grimm Tale” is an adaptation of the brothers Grimm’s short stories. But the brothers Grimm wrote many stories. Do you plan to film their texts in the future?
I would love to! I love classic tales and find them great inspirations to draw from. Hammer films, one of my absolute favorite production companies, mostly made their name in the 60s based off of mythic creatures from folklore. In modern cinema today, I’m particularly drawn to the Germanic style and themes that pop up throughout the genre. Some of my favorite filmmakers like Robert Eggers, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz feel like they’ve taken this genre of dark literature and adapted it to modern methods of storytelling perfectly; watching one of their films feels like reading a new Grimm tale. So, while I would like to film more of their texts in the future, I would rather eventually do something more original, like the aforementioned directors.
What genre would you like to work in? Are you planning to make a full-length film? What would you like to make a feature film about?
I don’t want to be particularly focused on any one genre because I’d like to tell a variety of different stories. I find that I’m particularly interested in making genre films like horror or noir, because there’s a larger amount of creative freedom allotted when making genre pieces. However, what I’m really focused on right now is a feature piece in development entitled, “They Were All Becoming Shades.” It’s based on a true story of my grandmother growing up in the middle of nowhere Texas in the 50’s, but due to the similarities could be considered a loose adaptation of James Joyce’s “The Dead.” I know I’m not selling it as particularly exciting, but there’s love and murder involved and if you are interested you can find more information on the website of my production company, Good Girl Films.
“The Ungrateful Son: a Grimm Tale » is a thriller. How do you think this genre will change after the pandemic? Will this genre die? What if the viewers who have experienced real horror will laugh at fictional monsters?
While I did say the film industry isn’t going to change much more than it already has, I do think that genre films like thrillers are going to be even less prominent. But as I said, it just opens up new possibilities like excellent television. The industry has always adapted and creative people will always find a way; just look at how David Fincher has moved his productions into a series format on Netflix or how filmmakers like the Duplass brothers continue to make exciting genre films on low budgets. I used to think that horrors and thrillers were not a good mix with people with real trauma, because it wouldn’t feel real or it would be too real to the point of it being determinantal on their well-being. The more that these types of movies have grown on me, the more I realize that all cinema, especially of this nature, is a great escape for people with real monsters.
What would you say to your colleagues, independent filmmakers, in these troubled times?
I’m not sure if I can say anything very inspiring because I’m struggling to find the silver lining in all of this. I’m just graduated, have no real income, but just lofty ambitions. All I can say is I hope they’re okay, and that they keep makings movies.