Nico Raineau is an award-winning filmmaker living in Los Angeles. His short film, Brix and the Bitch recently won Best Action Film at the 12th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. After leaving film school, Nico jumped head first into the film industry and after just a few years has become quite successful, but he is only just beginning his career. Nico Raineau is an up and coming filmmaker we should keep our eyes on.
As his short film, Brix and the Bitch continues to move through the film festival circuit and win those blue ribbons, Temple of Geek had the opportunity to sit down with Nico, the Writer and Director, via email and ask him some questions about his film.
10 Questions with Nico Raineau
1. Can you tell our audience a little about yourself and your career?
Well, I’m 29-years-old, I graduated from film school seven years ago, I’ve been working in the film industry ever since, and I’m just now finally starting what I would qualify as my “career.” It’s a very long road and it takes a lot of work just to get started!
My first job out of college was a director’s assistant position on a Warner Bros. film, a job I’ve come to realize just how lucky I was to get. It took me out to LA and led to work in development at various creative companies. I went from studio production to studio development, learning the ins and outs of how the industry creates and packages projects. Feeling as though I had learned a lot but was losing touch with my own creative pursuits, I decided to leave the stability of a day job and started freelance directing. Since then I’ve made a handful of projects for various outlets, directed a number of short films, and wrote my first feature script. After all that, like I said, I feel my career as a filmmaker is just now beginning!
2. Can you tell our audience about your short film, Brix and the Bitch?
Brix And The Bitch is a female driven action drama that blurs the lines of genre in telling an emotional, LGBTQ story. It is about a woman who is trapped in an illegal fight club and, in order to escape, she has to win a brutal fight against the only person she refuses to harm. I wanted to try making a film that I had never seen before while demonstrating that women deserve more credit as action film performers. I wrote the story, in large part, to feature empowered women in roles that we typically see portrayed by men.
3. You have said in previous interviews that you wrote this film with the two lead actresses, Dre Swain and Alex Marshall-Brown, in mind. What kind of influence did these two women have on you when you were writing this film?
They mostly influenced the conceptualization and writing process by being my muses, in a sense. I enjoy writing for specific talent and find it much easier to discover the voice of a character if I can visualize someone in the role. I was familiar with their work and knew them personally as friends, so I catered the roles to suit their talents and strengths as performers. I also crafted their characters in ways that I was hoping would push them into performances I hadn’t necessarily seen them give before, which I hoped would be an exciting venture for all of us.
I find that if you establish trust before asking collaborators to try something new, and maintain an open dialogue throughout the process, they will exceed your expectations. From there, they really trusted me to pull everything together and make sense out of everything we were trying to do stylistically, narratively, and emotionally. I’m still really grateful for that trust because our pre-production schedule was so rushed that we had many moments in which I was sailing the ship a bit blindly, just hoping my creative instincts wouldn’t backfire terribly! The only reason we made a decent movie is because of every cast & crew member’s contribution to the process; it was really a team effort.
4. What did you enjoy the most about making this film?
The collaboration. I had never made a film like this before and I was relying heavily [on] the talents of those around me. I think we all elevated one another, bringing out the best in each other, and that was a really fun environment to be a part of. Whenever we get together at a film festival screening it’s like a big, supportive family reunion.
5. What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of this film?
I think writing the script is always the hardest challenge. It’s the part of the process when you have the most ideas and struggle to decipher which of them make for the best story and how all the pieces that are swirling around inside of your head can actually fit together. This project was particularly challenging because we went into pre-production without a script; we only had a treatment at the time. So we were working out fight choreography, which [in] this case tells the entire story, while I was re-writing the script and still trying to figure out the structure of the narrative. It was a stressful couple weeks and, again, I appreciate the cast for trusting me to figure it all out.
6. What do you enjoy about making short films? What do you find to be the most challenging aspect?
What I enjoy about short films is their restrictive nature. You have very little time to establish characters, ignite conflict, and adequately resolve the narrative. Most short films are failed attempts at one or the other, and very few ever feel like complete works. When done well, a good short film is extraordinary. I think it’s a fun challenge. And again, I think it comes down to the writing. Technology allows for most films to be effectively executed, but crafting a story that is well told remains the true indicator of good filmmaking.
7. I read on your website that your film career began as a director’s assistant to Ben Affleck on The Town. Can you tell us about that experience?
The experience was remarkable, and one I grow to value more and more as my career progresses. I left the incubator of film school and was thrust into the real world of studio movie making, which is an incredibly rare opportunity considering how much access I was given to the creative process. I found myself under the wing of a filmmaker whose work is valued in a marketplace that tends to [under appreciate] exactly the type of mid-range budgeted film we were making, and it happened to be a film that was precisely the kind of character driven storytelling that inspires me [as] a filmmaker. It was an incredible experience, and a complete crash course in learning how studio films get made. I’m truly grateful for being given that opportunity.
8. You were on the Top Ten Filmmaker Finalists on the 4th season of Project Greenlight (Congratulations), can you tell us about that experience?
Another remarkable experience! What I learned most from that experience was how to be an efficient storyteller. Every round of the contest demanded that we make a two or three-minute piece in a very short amount of time, so it really taught me to trust my gut in crafting fully fledged short stories. The best aspect of making it to the finals though was getting to know the other filmmakers. You would think the environment would have been really competitive, but filmmaking is very subjective and directors never get to work together, so we became very supportive of each other. I’m a fan of all those filmmakers and can’t wait to see what each of them continues to make!
9. Do you have any other projects in the works?
I recently finished co-writing a feature screenplay that I hope to direct. It’s a character driven drama/comedy about two very messed up people who end up bringing out the best in each other over the course of a very raucous road trip. It’s called Baily & Darla’s Sex Adventure and we are looking for the right producing partners to collaborate with. I’m also producing another feature called The Bang Bang Girls about sex education and slut shaming that we’re hoping to film very soon.
10. Where can our audience go to learn more about Brix and the Bitch? When will the film be available for viewing outside of film festivals?
Brix And The Bitch is continuing to play film festivals through the end of the year and it will likely be available to view online sometime in early 2017. Until then, if you’d like to learn more about the film or be notified of screenings in your area, you can like our Facebook page which is updated regularly.
We would like to thank Nico Raineau for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some insight into the mind and career of an up and coming filmmaker. Thank you London Flair PR for reaching out to us regarding this interview.
Congratulations to the cast and crew of Brix and the Bitch on their success thus far and we look forward to seeing more work from everyone in the future.
*Interview was edited for length