Nick Shadix (he/him), Screen Studies, Minor: Photography
@shot_by_shadix (main) @thanksfornothingfilm (film)
I directed a film for my thesis. “Thanks For Nothing” portrays the painful reality of a friendship that is falling apart. Based in Brooklyn, NY, this dark comedy grasps the toxic nature of the relationship between two reckless artists. I want to reflect how things actually are – people, unfortunately, hurt each other. They grow apart. As hard as it is, that’s life. This film captures the night where a pushover begins to wonder if their friend is even a friend at all.
Digby, an art school undergrad, is convinced by his friend Eli to ditch his final exam study session. Instead, he reluctantly joins her on a midnight mission to obtain a drug that is rumored to be the ultimate escape. As tensions grow, chaos ensues and the future of their friendship looks bleak.
What Form will your Final Project Take?
Who was supporting you in with work?
Talia Lugacy – Assistant Professor of Screen Studies
How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
Considering that not too many people have seen the film yet, I’d say it’s hard to judge how it has impacted the people who’ve watched the film. I can really only speak for myself and those that have worked on it with me.
Personally, this project was very cathartic for me. I had felt a distance between some of my friends lately and that growing apart feeling is very hard to describe. I tried my best to capture it in this film in its surreal, tragic tone. In another sense, the two characters; a druggie reckless one that want to mess around all the time and a pushover that is lost and is trying to get their shit together, is emblematic of two sides of myself. It was very fun to personify them as different characters and to convey my inner confusion.
For my lead actors, it was their first time acting in a film of any kind. We worked hard, rehearsed like crazy, and they did a terrific job. They learned to love that kind of acting. Beyond that, they both really resonated with the story. Joshua Negussie (DIGBY) has had that exact relationship as a pushover that eventually grew further away from their reckless friend. Phoebe Lloyd (ELI), although they aren’t a manipulative, enabling friend in real life, has also experienced that growing apart feeling and really embodied ELI’s moments of failed connection. So they both thought it was a truthful, important story to be told which made it all this depiction more authentic. I think it helped them process those moments of disconnect in their own lives too.
My crew was very excited to be a part of this film because most of their past work consisted of commercial shoots and films that focused on action or just stories that already oversaturate the media. They all thought this was an important story to be told, they loved the vision, and worked really hard to make it a reality. The fact that everybody on set was passionate about the art created a fun but productive environment. think this project was rewarding for everybody involved.
Beyond that, everyone that has seen the project or heard the story feels the same. They resonate with that feeling of growing apart and think this story should be portrayed in films more often.
What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
I was surprised how close I got to my original vision but there were some things that I knew I could’ve done better. Making absolutely sure that the shot and lighting align with the vision. Not letting myself get lazy and letting things slide. Be dynamic. Avoid disappointment. Shoot for excellence and fall for greatness. Reminding the actors what moments were found in rehearsal and what techniques helped them get there. Also, telling them to slow down. More often than not, not matter how many times you rehearse, actors will rush a little bit when shooting. And noticing their bad habits when they come up. I also want be less shy about giving notes in the future. People will respect it if you are honest with them
The best advice I can offer is over-prepare. When you’re on a film shoot, there are so many moving parts, something will always go wrong. You want to be super-prepared so you can deal with it swiftly and efficiently. Shot-lists, the gear scout, rehearsals, these things allow you to be more creative on set. You have more creative freedom because you don’t spend time on logistics. Preparation equals freedom. Isn’t that crazy? Also, remember to hold onto your vision while letting go of your ego. Don’t be an asshole to your actors and crew. Sometimes you have to let things go to maintain a respectful environment.
Are you going to publish or print your work? If so, where?
Various film festivals
To be honest, I could not believe how far I’ve come as a filmmaker since this past fall semester. This was my biggest project yet. To see its development is amazing: from the script stage, to casting some amazing actors, to intensive planning, to shooting it 4 late nights in a row with 2 reshoots, and finally editing for weeks to get it right. I learned skills as a creative leader, of course, with the help of all of the cast and crew. I have discovered a new confidence and drive for my creative work that I never had before.