Leaving The Hollywood Boy’s Club: A Real Career Girl Story
I love fairy tales. My mother read them to me every night as a child and I had a few big, beautiful fairy tale books that I remember sitting with and just looking at all the wonderful pictures for hours. When I was 5 years old, one of my friends and I would play a pretend game, where I was Snow White and she was Rose Red.
Later while attending Vassar College, I took a class in fairy tale literature that changed my life. It gave me an understanding of the depth of these ancient tales. I learned about their mythological roots, the meaning of many of the prevalent symbols and what they meant to psychologists like Freud and Jung and how they worked on our unconscious minds – it was fascinating! Working with stories on this level can be wonderfully healing, inspiring and a great way to learn how to overcome challenges in the real world!
After college, I moved to Hollywood where I started out on a TV lit desk at a major talent agency. I worked crazy hours, but I quickly began writing scripts of my own and they started to sell and get made.
It’s no secret that Hollywood has not been super friendly to women, and I was told, despite my script sales, by two different male employers, on two separate occasions, “there is no room for women in film.”
Those exact words.
I thought, “You’ll see, there’s room for me!”
And I did succeed in having several films produced, but it was always an uphill battle.
When I had my daughter, I felt it was the perfect time to take a break from the industry and my husband and I moved to upstate New York. I became a stay at home mom to my little girl. One of the great gifts of doing that was I had a lot of time to read the fairy tales I loved so much to her, and we also discovered new ones together and my appreciation for these tales only increased.
As my daughter grew older, I decided to jump back into the world of film. But this time around, I was excited about the idea of producing and directing my stories. I had been a film major during my time at Vassar, and had the training to direct, but even though I did well as a screenwriter in Hollywood, I never got the opportunity to direct my own work. Now, with my passion for fairy tales re-ignited, and living in beautiful upstate New York, which has an abundance of magical forests, lakes and wild gardens, I decided to step up and produce my own version of the classic Grimms’ Fairy Tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I managed get the film funded twice, but both times realized pretty quickly I was going to lose creative control.
I took a step back and asked myself, how can I make this film without raising millions of dollars to do it? And the answer was, I couldn’t. At least, not the way I wanted to make it. But a new idea began to form in my mind– what if I made a show about my old favorites, Snow White and Rose Red, and kept the production very simple? All I needed were some great characters having adventures in the woods! And we have plenty of free woods to film in around upstate New York. That’s how The Adventures of Snow White & Rose Red was born. I needed to take a step back and start a little smaller.
At this time, I met Andrew and Katie Balog, who were on the board of The Saratoga Springs International Film Festival with me, and we formed our production company, Trident Fantasy Films together. One thing I’ve learned is to always get out there and network. Join things. You never know who you’ll meet or where those roads may lead you.
Once Andrew and Katie signed on, we were all so excited to get this show into production and things happened really quickly. Andrew, Katie and I wanted to maintain ownership of the show, so we self funded on very little money. We gave it the green light in February and we had our staff writers hired on, and scripts finished, by April.
One thing I’m really proud of is our all female writing staff – which is very rare in both television and film – and we did this just before the #METOO movement exploded. It just seemed like a natural fit to have a group of young ladies write a show that centers around two sisters and fairy tales. All our directors, except for one, are also women, and our cinematographer and a majority of our producers are female too – because it’s one thing to talk about girl power and #TIMESUP, but I’m all about putting my money where my mouth is. I believe the best way to empower other women is to hire them, pay them, and give them the opportunities that I would want someone else to give me.
Another thing that really made me want to create Snow & Rose, was that I had spent those years at home with my daughter, and I knew how few television shows were truly appropriate for children. So many were inappropriate for young girls and boys and we had a long list of banned TV shows in our house. I thought, if we could just make a show that was sweet and featured a little lesson or moral given at the end of each episode, that would be a lovely thing for the children of the world.
I also am passionate about reading, and I want to inspire kids to read. Reading builds empathy and ignites our imagination – I can think of no greater gift to give children than a love for reading. So our Snow White always begins each episode by reading one of the original Grimm’s fairy tales out loud out from her own beautiful book.
It has been amazing and super fun working with children! I truly love kids and they bring such energy and enthusiasm to their roles. As I am a mother, and most of our directors are also moms, working with children worked out beautifully. Little did I know, that my time at home being a stay at home mother was preparing me to become the showrunner of a television series that would stream on Amazon! You never know where the road will take you.
As an executive producer on a series filming completely outside of mainstream Hollywood, we had the privilege of deciding how we wanted to produce our show, and we did things a little differently. We worked hard, but we kept the shooting hours much more reasonable than a typical Hollywood production. All the kids on the series went home to their own beds at night, and we on the crew went home to our own families and children too. Family is incredibly important to all of us, we took that into consideration when we planned our production schedule.
My goal is to build my own little Disney style empire! There is a tremendous market for what we’re creating and we’re excited to see what’s ahead. I can see many seasons of this series happening, because the possibilities provided by the rich source material of fairy tales is endless. I have many more stories to tell – as far as I’m concerned, I’m only just getting started! I’ve sold a lot of scripts, but this project means so much more to me. It’s a thrill to go on Amazon and see The Adventures of Snow White & Rose Red pop up on the screen.
My secret weapon for getting me here is faith. I started each day with yoga, then meditated and visualized my show, live on the air – how it would look, how it would sound, what it would be like. Every. Single. Day. That vision has been my guiding star.
Now I’m incredibly excited about finally moving forward with Twelve Dancing Princesses. So stay tuned!
This guest post was authored by Nicole Coady
Nicole Coady is a writer, director and producer with over 25 years of Hollywood film making experience. As a founding member of Trident Fantasy Films, Nicole is the creator and showrunner of, The Adventures of Snow White & Rose Red.
She is also currently in development on the live action feature film, The Brothers Gimm’s Twelve Dancing Princesses through her production company Prinroc Ltd.
Nicole received her Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in Film. She went on to pursue a career in the film industry working for such companies as the Creative Artists Agency, producer John Hart’s Hart Hubbard Films, and Tristar Entertainment before embarking on screenwriting. She had the good fortune to have her screenplays produced by major Hollywood players, New Line Cinema and 20th Century Fox. In addition, she authored scripts for two children’s animated features showcasing the top selling Bratz line of dolls for MGA, Livin’ It Up With The Bratz and Little Bratz Party Time.