Friday, April 1, 2016

Up-and-Coming Writer Returns to Ohio

Since graduating from UCLA in 2013 with an MFA in writing, Nicole Riegel has notched a number of impressive accomplishments.

Her screenplay Dogfight made Hollywood's prestigious annual Blacklist; she was tapped to write a war drama feature for True Detective maestro Cary Fukunaga; she signed in 2014 with CAA; and just last month, it was announced that Julia Louis-Dreyfus will produce Soldier Girls, an HBO series about women in the National Guard to be written and co-produced by Riegel.

There's also Holler, the 20-minute short film she wrote and directed, which raised completion funds recently via Kickstarter. Riegel plans to extend the project into a full feature, but in the meantime, it's set to premiere Tuesday April 5th in her native Jackson, Ohio, ahead of a showing the next day at the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Georgia.

From a write-up in the Jackson County Times-Journal:

The locations in Holler show the history of these towns by juxtaposing isolated, decaying buildings and infrastructure with the beauty of the surrounding nature. “Additionally, the people that inhabit this part of the country are some of the kindest, most generous and trusting that you will find,” the filmmakers added. The film is as much an ode to the people and the spirit of small town Ohio as it is the story of its protagonists.
Holler tells the story of Coon and Blaze, who are two young brothers growing up in small town southern Ohio. Not only are they brothers, but they’re inseparable best friends. Their story is set against a rust belt town where jobs are disappearing, factories are closing and many young people are struggling. These are the children left behind, and while the world moves on, they must find a way to get by.

Tuesday's free screening will be followed by a Q&A featuring Riedel, producer Adam Cobb and actors Cody Oppel and Andrew Herriage. Riedel grew up in the area and graduated in 2003 from Jackson High School.

On Twitter, Riegel captions herself as having "traded my M16 for a pen." So far, that's working out splendidly. In 2014, when she was profiled in Filmmaker magazine, she recalled how it ostensibly all started:

"If you were a girl [in Jackson], you entered beauty pageants. That’s what was expected of you." When she was 15, Riegel entered one of those pageants, won, but soon became the first local queen to be “dethroned, kicked out.” She explains: “I didn’t want to [enter] in the first place, and when I won I had the opportunity to write a speech. So, I wrote about feeling that these pageants are debasing to young women. As you can imagine, the audience did not find it amusing.”
But letters poured in to local newspapers from other young women supporting Riegel. “I knew then that I could write something powerful and the right people who needed to hear it would hear it,” she says.

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