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article imageFilmmaker Nicole Conn empowers women with ‘A Perfect Ending’ Special

By Anca Dumitru     Feb 12, 2013 in Entertainment
Writer and director Nicole Conn discusses her latest movie ‘A Perfect Ending,’ a riveting story with a powerful message: finding passion and living a life with purpose by being who you really are.
Conn is one of those people who knew from very early on in her life what she wanted to be—a story teller. A writer. She never stopped writing ever since. And until she made Claire of the Moon, a breath of fresh air back in the day for the lesbian audience, she didn’t know that she wanted to direct a script and have her own vision about it.
Later, Conn wrote, directed and produced the award-winning feature documentary little man, which covers the touching story of her premature born son, Nicholas.
Her leaning to quality adult story-telling manifested afterward in Elena Undone, “a romance with a twist” that holds the world record for the longest on screen kiss in the cinema history.
What Conn wants to achieve through her films is to “make people feel deeply, go on a journey and have all the nuances of that journey so they can really relate to it.”
This is exactly what she looked for in A Perfect Ending. This romantic drama follows the story of Rebecca Westridge (played by soap opera star Barbara Niven), a middle-aged wealthy and uptight socialite who lived a pointless life, trying to make everyone happy but herself. A wake up call that will change her boring existence and the lives of those around her makes her confess to her best friends, a lesbian couple, her most inner secret: she never had an orgasm. They unconventionally suggest her find herself a female lover, since “a woman is so much more familiar with the manual.” This is how Rebecca meets high-priced escort Paris (portrayed by British model-turned-actress Jessica Clark).
Rebecca (Barbara Niven) meets Paris (Jessica Clark) in  A Perfect Ending
Rebecca (Barbara Niven) meets Paris (Jessica Clark) in 'A Perfect Ending'
Photo: Marina Rice Bader
From their first electric handshake to the raw and truthful intimacy they end up sharing, these two straight women develop feelings for each other that grow in a way neither of them would expect. In her journey to redeem her life, Rebecca emerges from her chrysalis like a butterfly guided by Paris, who, in return, needs to heal her own wounds.
“This movie was truly meant to be,” says Conn. The idea came from her life and business partner at Soul Kiss Films, Executive Producer Marina Rice Bader. Although Conn was working on the novelization of Elena Undone, the writer within her got so consumed about this idea that she wrote the script in six days.
It then took about six months until she started filming it: “Many things fell apart in the beginning and then just miraculously things replaced them, and that’s what I mean when I say it was meant to be. Every time we hit a road block, something miraculously came to our rescue,“ reveals Conn.
Financed through a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign, the money that was raised helped kick-off the production. The film was smoothly shot in three weeks. Conn acknowledges, “I’ve never worked with such a group of hardworking people to realize this project. It was a true collaboration of cast, crew and donors, and what we call, our film family.”
The challenges came up during post-production when Conn had to wear a lot of hats, dealing with a number of technological things she had to teach herself along the way. “Every film to me means not just having a vision, but being a problem solver, especially in the indie film world where money is scarce and you have to really challenge yourself to think of creative solutions,” explains the filmmaker. “Nothing was getting in the way of this film happening, it was its own force of nature.”
Despite that, Conn expressed recently two main concerns about A Perfect Ending in an article on Indiewire: the risk of being reduced to the lesbian niche, which undoubtedly this film serves, and insufficient theatrical distribution.
Undeniable chemistry: Paris (Jessica Clark) and Rebecca (Barbara Niven) -  A Perfect Ending
Undeniable chemistry: Paris (Jessica Clark) and Rebecca (Barbara Niven) - 'A Perfect Ending'
Photo: Marina Rice Bader
“When Ellen DeGeneres has an empire rivaling Oprah’s, when Jodie Foster can cavalierly add ‘oh yeah, and I’m gay’ in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, and when Rachel Maddow is one of TV’s most respected political journalists, when do our films get to belong?,” Conn writes.
Not a fan of labels, she is saddened that lesbian films, in general, aren't theatrically released because that niche doesn't support theatrical releases. Lesbians don’t go to the movies. ”It’s a sort of a catch 22,” adds Conn. She wants to break the perception about A Perfect Ending being an LGBT film and get to the crossover audience by targeting the baby boomers in the US and European viewers, who are far less concerned with the lesbian aspect and far more involved in the story telling.
“Seeing this film in a theater is an extraordinary experience, as you can imagine. For instance, the lighting design helped make elevate the love scenes to something that was sacred. When you see that film in a theater, and hear that incredible score, and see those visual images, it's really astonishing,” explains Conn while giving credit to Tal Lazar, her extremely talented cinematographer.
“This truly is a universal story and I’m committed 1000 percent to moving this film into the crossover,” confesses Conn who receives ongoing positive response from both female and male straight audiences that love the romance in this film.
Paris (Jessica Clark) and Rebecca (Barbara Niven) share a strong connection in  A Perfect Ending
Paris (Jessica Clark) and Rebecca (Barbara Niven) share a strong connection in 'A Perfect Ending'
Photo: Marina Rice Bader
A Perfect Ending was released on DVD in UK on February 11, 2013, and is further introduced in Germany, where it will be screened in 20 cities next month, and other European countries with a great deal of interest in art house movies.
Discussing film industry today versus the time when she made Claire of the Moon, Conn says, “It is night and day. The Internet has been the great equalizer and the great destruction of the indie film scene. There’s an overwhelming amount of content out there that’s not very good, but serves the masses anyway.” Because of the Internet and piracy, which everyone tries to overcome with technology to protect films, the indie filmmakers don’t have an easy mission.
Back when she made Claire of the Moon, when there wasn’t anything else out there for lesbians, it was really easy to get investors. Next, she financed Cynara… herself. Later, a private investor fully funded little man, because he believed in the storyline. Then, for Elena Undone it was very difficult to get the money.
“Making a good film on $100,000 is insanity. A Perfect Ending’s budget was approximately $175,000. You have to kill yourself to make it look like a high end film for that kind of budget. That’s the way film has changed,” Conn says.
Claire of the Moon was shot on 35 mm, meanwhile she’s gone through various versions of high def, and ended up on the RED camera, which is the closest to the cinema look as one can get.
Conn hopes that one thing the audience takes away from A Perfect Ending is finding passion and living it. When Rebecca finds her passion, it empowers her to vindicate her pointless life. Barbara Niven, who is not only a gifted seasoned actress but also a motivational speaker, has a motto that says it best: “Don’t stop five minutes before the miracle.”
The other message Conn sends across to her viewers is looking at the details of things. That’s the reason why she used pointillism not just artistically, but also cinematically, creating the new cinema language for transitions, so people can see those extreme close ups. “We are too busy today that we no longer take time to look at the details,” adds Conn.
As to herself, this film was her agony and ecstasy. She was completely gripped by the story and it really affected her. Now, looking at it with perspective, she sees it as the most altering life experience she’s ever had along with many people who’ve worked on this film. “There’s something very intrinsic to the film that profoundly affected all the people that were involved with it, and now it's doing the same thing for the viewer. That’s the most incredible gift to me that I could be given as a filmmaker to give an audience,” says Conn.
A Perfect Ending is so much more than just another little lesbian film. It’s a visually-stunning movie with an enthralling script, humorous at times, with roles that fit great caliber actors like a glove, wrapped up in the most wonderful soundtrack. All these elements make it a cinematic masterpiece and a winner with critics and the viewers audience, gay or straight alike. It’s about time for it to belong.
A Perfect Ending was released on DVD in US and Canada (February 5, 2013) and UK (February 11, 2013). It’s also available on Video on Demand via Wolfe Video. The soundtrack can be downloaded on iTunes.
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