Just Celebrity Magazine had the chance to talk to director Jake Nielsen about his marvelous short film musical ‘On Hold’ which reminds us that following our dreams and our aspirations is the BEST thing to do! We asked him where he got the inspiration of the film from, what would he do if he was in the same position as Gabby and the other film festivals On Hold will be screening at.
Hi Jake, how are you doing?
I almost just burnt my house down as I sat down to answer these questions cause my steamer caught fire. I’m a little shaken, but apart from that, I’m great.
Congrats with On Hold. Where did you get the idea for this movie from?
Thank you! I was working in a terrible call centre for a predatory lender and I needed some way to let out my frustration. Writing the musical meant that every time something ridiculous, humiliating or enraging happened, I knew I could make something of it in the film, or at the very least get it out of my system. Some of the things in the film are direct lifts from my experiences but a lot are from stories I heard or things witnessed.
It’s all about Gabby, a young woman who’s torn apart between quitting her job to try to achieve her passion. What would you choose? Would you go for the stability and the certainty she has with her job or would you quit and try to go for the passion?
Well, I quit my job at that predatory leader to make this film. I think if you want to try and make a career in the arts from the ground up then you need a part-time job. You need time every day to be able to work on your career.
Madeleine Jones is wonderful as Gabby and her dancing and singing skills are contagious to watch. How did you come across her?
Madeleine was performing in a musical with my co-composer Matthew Predny and so he suggested her when we first began casting. She already had a lot of success and so we were really grateful to have her play the role. We got extremely lucky and grabbed a rising star about one millisecond before she would have been way too busy for us. She’s currently starring in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in Australia.
How did the rest of the cast come together?
We were a very small independent short so we had some auditions through agents and some just completely open. We auditioned about 200 people and whittled it down to 13. We even changed the genders of a few characters cause we were so set on the people we wanted.
It’s a musical short film that could be a long-feature film as well where we would see more of the characters, their struggles, and their dreams. Was it always to plan to just make a short one about it or are there already plans to make a full-length film about this?
Yes and No, “On Hold” kind of exits in about 3 forms at the moment. We have a draft of a feature screenplay. We have the bible of a TV version, and we’ve completed a stage show version as well. So there is definitely something larger in its future. But we’re not exactly sure what form it will take.
It’s not only just a musical film but it also has some valuable lessons in it. What do you hope that people take away with them from this film?
That your dreams and aspirations are valid and that you live in a world full of systems designed to make you give up on those aspirations. Life is disappointing and pretty ugly at times, But you can control some of it. Therefore you should try as long as you can to be who you want to be, and do the things that make you happy while you’re still here.
The movie was screened at Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films during this summer. Are there other film festivals you’re going to with this film?
We’re still doing the festival circuit, we’re in a few upcoming tests in Australia and then we’re looking to overseas festivals next year.
How did you get into the movie industry?
I’m not sure I am yet. I’ve had some successful shorts but I think I need to be directing full time before I would consider myself really “In the Industry” but If I’m in the industry now then I’m not sure when exactly it happened.. I’ve been making films since I was about 9 if that counts.
What advice would you give to other people wanting to achieve a career in the film industry?
Everything happens slower than you want it to and you might want to get used to being poor for a long time. But if you’re still okay with that, then just keep writing/shooting etc.
One last question: Do you have more projects you’re working on?
My co-composer Matthew Predny and I are currently working on a stage musical called ‘Miss Westralia’ with Madeline Clouston (Sophie in On Hold). The show is about the very first winner of the Miss Australia competition. It will be in Perth next year for a 4-week season and we are planning on touring it the following year. We were in talks for a motion picture version but these things take time, and also take your exec not deciding to quit the company.