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Nadia Conners

Nadia Conners

Walton Goggings and Nadia Conners were married in August 2011 after a long relationship. His little son Augustus born on February 2011 was the best friend at the wedding. As her popular husband, Nadia is also having a connection with Hollywood and filmmaking. Walton mentioned many times that they had so many things in common, maybe that's why their marriage so strong. He also connected to environmental issues through his wife, who directed the documentary “The 11th Hour”, about the environmental crisis produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

It may be hard to imagine, but growing up in Los Angeles, Hollywood held no allure for Nadia Conners. “To me,” she said in an interview this spring, “film was really a business – one that I didn’t want to have anything to do with.” Focusing more on the outside world due to childhood cross-cultural adventures in Egypt, Mexico and Europe, Nadia had no idea she was headed for the very industry she was planning to avoid.

Majoring in European Cultural Studies, Nadia’s time at AUP led her through a myriad of interests that included photography, politics, plays, and finally, documentaries. Graduating in 1992, she moved to Cairo to film her first documentary and attended the Cairo International Film Festival where her Hollywood “bubble” finally broke. “I was out of that bubble and I saw how the rest of the world was using film in such an extraordinarily artistic, politically brave, and community-creating way.” Nadia remembers one film so emotionally stirring that its audience gave a standing ovation two-thirds of the way through. It was that kind of outpouring and connection to film that impressed and pushed her forward. Moving to New York to attend a director’s workshop at New York University, she fell in love with the craft of filmmaking. “It connected everything that I loved and I realized that basically, I was afraid to be like everyone else I saw growing up in LA.” With that, she surrendered and headed west.

Back in Los Angeles, Nadia founded Tree Media Group with her sister, Leila Conners Petersen (’89), in 1996. The following year they released The 11th Hour, an environmental film they had written, directed and produced with Leonardo Dicaprio. A “culmination,” Nadia calls it, of their common political feelings about the environment and urgent desire to address climate change, the film is a compilation of interviews with politicians, scientists and environmental activists. “It’s about civilization, the presumptions of our civilization, and what those have done,” she says. “We have to have a mind shift where we never want to use resources the way we’re currently using them all in the service of capital and capitalism.”

Nadia calls The 11th Hour an “extraordinary experience,” but current projects like Earthquake Weather, a family drama she has written, are closer to her story-telling interests. Having developed an international perspective during her time abroad, Nadia believes that it’s this broader view that gives her fresh spins on tried-and-true storylines. The film, starring actress Kate Bosworth, is such an example: instead of the typical family drama that centers around a dysfunctional family, Earthquake Weather focuses on a dysfunctional culture which as a result, affects the family.

As Nadia continues to grow as a writer, her interests shift further towards narrative films, saying she enjoys the control of creating scenes and is “interested in stories of personal transformation.” She hopes one such narrative titled Against the Sun will begin shooting this summer with her husband, Academy Award winner Walton Goggins, directing. A modern day Western, Against the Sun is “a moral tale about debt, redemption, and salvation” in which she is aiming to comment on current national struggles and events. Nadia shares that she originally wrote the screenplay with the idea that director Hany Abu-Assad would direct and her husband would star. “When I started writing this film,” she says, “I was looking at it through the eyes of a Palestinian asking, ‘How would Hany like to photograph this? What is interesting to him?’ A lot of people have read it [the script] and said it feels like a European version of an American style film – and that always happens to me because of taking the other perspective. And that is something I learned from AUP – to always take the other perspective.”

“When you’re writing from a more international perspective and your stories are political,” she says, “you need more time to evolve, to have even the right to tell some of those stories.” A project called Lost Girls and Love Hotels, based on the book written by Catherine Hanrahan, also in development with plans for actress Kate Bosworth to star, serves as such an example. Having written the screenplay, Nadia explains, “An American woman in Tokyo, totally immersed in Japanese culture. Through the mirror that the culture provides, she can see herself truly for the first time. It’s a story about radical transformation and personal healing.”

Nadia also loves listening to and learning from her actors, relishing opportunities to connect with them. “When an actor is good and smart and attracted to the material, they own it. They take it on and there is so much to learn.” Nadia emphasizes that filmmaking is not for the faint at heart and that even when you work really hard at it, success is not guaranteed. “Ninety percent of my projects have never been made,” she shares, “and that’s the reality of the film business.”

Despite this, Nadia’s catalog of work also includes two short films, “Water Planet” and “Global Warming” she did with DiCaprio, a narrative feature, Oceano, which she wrote for Ridley Scott and Here Comes Greatness, a documentary she is currently producing on the underground world of American backyard wrestling. Nadia also looks to side-projects that currently include an experimental film about the Occupy Wall Street movement, a novel, and several photo art projects to keep inspiration alive while waiting out production lulls. “Ultimately,” she says, “the dream is that all of these things connect and become a very interesting body of work.” Despite the difficulty of the business, she remains excited and hopeful.

“What is relevant about me working in film, and as an artist and writer too is that that experience [talking about AUP] has always stayed with me – for better or for worse. I think I was always going to write more artistic films therefore my experience at AUP was incredibly important because it helped me have a voice that was very different. It’s not just coming from my small world.”

Look how Nadia Conners is telling about her extraordinary project “The 11th Hour” at short video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi5BOnxSmEk.