In an exclusive interview in New York City, Spanish film director Alice Waddington sat down at the Park Lane Hotel with SHK for an exclusive interview about her major motion picture debut: Paradise Hills. Waddington, donning a fabulous purple dress and matching heels was both fabulous in fashion and in high spirits for the interview.
Editor: Tell me three fun things you’d like the world to know about Alice Waddington.
AW: I used to do cosplay when I was younger. I was a big cosplay person when I was about 12 and had won several awards. LARP (live-action role play!.)
I didn’t get to go to film school. But still followed my dreams anyway.
Editor: What made you want to get into filmmaking:
AW: My parents. My father had a film club while he was at University, which was important to me to follow up with. He would play different films in various languages. That’s actually how my father and mother met, they met over him playing films that were actually banned in Spain at the time. I was lucky enough to have a context at home that used to discuss film extensively. That’s where my love for films come from also my love for classic films like 1940 monster films. Bride of Frankenstein!.
Editor: Paradise Hills has strong feminist representation, what does feminism mean to you?
AW: I think feminism is a quality between men and women. I feel like any cultural creation is sort of doesn’t follow those guidelines. It’s going to become obsolete at some point whether we like the idea or not. Mostly this is a commercial film meant for people to enjoy without too much thinking into stuff like that, even though there are themes present in it. This is sort of a film for my 13-year-old self.. (think: Lord of the Rings). I wanted to put myself and my friends in those narratives and stories that I loved!.
Editor: You’ve got some of the biggest names in movies in your first major film debut, how does that make you feel?
AW: It makes me feel great. It makes me feel happy that all of these wonderful men and women wanted to take part in making this fairytale come to life. I spent quite a few weeks in LA meeting actresses and actors. After Emma Watson signed on, things definitely got quicker when the emotional frame of the film become more present. Emma brought bravery; Danielle brought realism, and Mila brought the Mom figure. Awkwafina had this idea that for some reason she wouldn’t be good in a dramatic film, but she’s so talented and great she was perfect for it.
Editor: As a Spanish/Queer woman — tell me what it means to you to have your name in a major film debut and how you hope that motivates other young women like you to do big things?
AW: It is important for me to reflect my queerness in a way in a film that made sense. I’m not imposing anything on anyone, but this is who I am and I didn’t want to hide. You see sort of a time capture of my own innocence (obvs: reference to 13-year-old self). As a career woman, it was important for me to bring that narrative to a PG-13 film because I don’t like the idea of hiding and that’s why this film is about personal freedom. You should never be the person that others want you to be! I hope this is something that the LGBTQ community can relate to that!
A memorable quote from Waddington.
I am me. I thought that was a brave and sweet way of refining one’s identity. [This is a quote from Waddington’s film]. If you are a diverse person it’s kind of easy to sort of smooth over what makes you different and stand out. I believe what it is sexually beautiful is to blend your weirdnesses and your coolness and that is what makes you shine!
What was it like when you got the green light, for Paradise Hills, and when you realised that it was going to become a reality?
AW: It was shocking. It was moving. It was gorgeous. It was important. It was so important to those that I love most. They actually green-lighted the film when Emma signed on, they need a protagonist and that’s what made it happen. It was such an experiment for her. She wanted to try something new and wanted to figure out what it would be like. I cried my Mom crying —- “We got the protagonist!”. I hadn’t heard her cry in like a decade. No one in my family has ever made a living off a creative career!.
What’s next for you? What can we expect from Alice Waddington?
AW: People can expect Scarlet. Michael Costigan. He produced films like Girl Interrupted & Brokeback Mountain. I just wanted to tell a relatable queer story. It’s on Netflix US.
EXCLUSIVE: Waddington although in minimal detail has confirmed that a reported Netflix project is in the works (but she wasn’t able to confirm any details beyond that!.)
What are the two major pieces of advice you have for other women who want to be in film industry?
AW: You’re not imagining that you have to say everything thrice. You’re not imaging that your ideas can and would be as good as everybody else. Specifically, if you come from a background little to no privilege, I would say never lose faith!. Never lose faith in yourself and always let others help you! There’s a lot of men who are wonderful and in a wonderful position of privilege and are great allies. They actually want to help and their position allows them to do that!
I read online that you are making it part of your mission to encourage and motivate other women to be a part of the film industry and make big-ticket movies. How are you going about holding yourself to that mission?
AW: I am a mentor to women who want to work in film currently. I am sort of multi-tasking on that front. I talk about those issues openly in several interviews. I teach classes. I just taught a workshop recently at the Public Theater. Generally, I am available. [Tutoring, accessible].