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SxSW 2016 Interview: CHICKEN PEOPLE director Nicole Lucas Haimes

by Jason Whyte

"In a high stakes world where a single broken feather can mean a shattered dream, CHICKEN PEOPLE follows the trials and tribulations of those who competitively breed show poultry. CHICKEN PEOPLE is a charming and surprisingly uplifting look at passion and the drive for success." Director Nicole Lucas Haimes on CHICKEN PEOPLE which screens at the 2016 edition of South By Southwest Film.

I am happy that CHICKEN PEOPLE is showing at SxSW and this is your first time here! Are you planning to attend your screenings?

This is my first time coming to SXSW and to Austin. I plan to be at all three screenings of CHICKEN PEOPLE.

Great to hear it! Tell me about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!

I had two strong, polar opposite experiences at the start of my career. I interned and then freelanced at ABC News working with investigative teams for magazine shows, and in between stints at ABC, I worked with a cinema verite filmmaker as his associate producer and assistant camera; even though he rarely trusted me to load the film and was always amazed that as a woman, I could read a map. He taught me how to lay back so a situation could naturally unfold in contrast with the typically structured, controlled approach to magazine style storytelling.

I am especially proud of the Emmy nominated documentary I made for PBS, CRACKING THE CODE, because I was able to tell a story about cutting edge gene science while portraying the humanity of families having to make difficult, ethically challenging decisions. We were the first to document Baby Emma, a child born from three genetic parents, as well as showing one of the first IVF doctors who was willing to implant only male embryos for his patients who wanted sons.

That's a wonderful background! How did CHICKEN PEOPLE come together?

It took several years of banging my head against a variety of walls before CMT Docs came on board and made it all possible!

What kept you going while making CHICKEN PEOPLE? What was your drive? How much coffee was involved?

What drove me the most while making the movie was my passion and care for our cast and the responsibility I felt to show both the joys and the challenges in their lives. What I first thought would be an entertaining romp, deepened in unexpected ways as we captured how our subjects' relationships with their chickens powerfully shaped them as people.

Fear too is a great motivator, and it drove me and to meet some incredibly tight deadlines. Yes, coffee, sugar, chocolate and beer certainly fueled me and the extraordinary edit team of Kevin Klauber and Sara Booth to get through some late, late, late nights.

What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?

I don't want to answer this question for risk of spoiling things for our audience. Instead I invite everyone to come and see CHICKEN PEOPLE and ask me this question then!

Good answer! Now I must get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie!

I wanted to work with Director of Photography Martina Radwan because of her extraordinary verite shooting. She is nimble and skilled at being in the right spot at the right time. Her ability to work with minimal light and small crews helped the subjects feel comfortable and allowed moments to be captured authentically. Martina of course achieved beautiful shots at some very photogenic locations; and we learned along the way, that chickens are quite fun when shot with an intimate camera. Martina was most impressive in that she was willing to spend many hours sitting on the floor of chicken coops waiting to capture chicken sex. Martina shot with a Canon C-300.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Eating cornbread and collard greens, seeing the work of other filmmakers, and hopefully watching audiences respond to the humor and heart of CHICKEN PEOPLE.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

On to Nashville Film Festival and then others. My hope of hopes is a theatrical release.

What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?

Once when I was young and chattering to my girlfriend throughout a movie I found terribly dull, a woman sitting behind me became so aggravated she dumped a bucket of popcorn on my head. And it didn't make me mad, it made me laugh, which only aggravated her more.

I suppose if someone was rude in the way I was back then, I would probably ask them in the sweetest voice I could muster to shut the fuck up.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

Skip it. Your parents were right. Become a lawyer. Unless you know for sure you want no other life than one making movies, and then go for it with all your heart.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

THE WIZARD OF OZ. Humor and Heart. That is what I love.

Be sure to follow CHICKEN PEOPLE online at the official website and on Facebook!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2016. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=3941
originally posted: 03/10/16 14:39:14
last updated: 03/10/16 14:40:12
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