Wednesday, December 16, 2020

|Podcast| Wingmen - Nicole Emanuele

Photo Content from Nicole Emanuele

Nicole Emanuele is a filmmaker who is motivated to tell female stories. She comes from a long line of strongly willed women, and has passed the condition onto her own daughter. Her frustrations and experiences with a world that is critical of women like herself motivates her to tell stories with strong female characters, painting them with love, and ensuring they are as nuanced as they are in real life. 

As an artist she and her work have been supported by Tribeca Film Institute, Chanel, The Future of Film Is Female, and Refinery 29. Her work has screened at festivals including Mill Valley Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, and Rooftop Film Festival and been featured on The Playlist and Washingtonian Magazine. She wrote and directed the fighter pilot short film Wingmen produced by Refinery 29 and Level Forward's Shatterbox. She produced the 2012 feature film Not Waving But Drowning directed by Devyn Waitt and featuring Adam Driver and Lili Reinhart. As a development executive for YouTube Nicole was selected for the Hollywood Reporter's Next Gen list in 2016 and has developed dramatic series including On Becoming A God in Central Florida, Impulse, Step Up High Water, and Origin.

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This film comes from a very personal place for me. My sister, Francesca, is a 25 year-old Naval Aviator. I’ve watched her and her closest girlfriends attend the Naval Academy and enter their careers as military aviators. When Frankie started out in the military at only 18, I had many preconceived notions about what her life would be like, many of which were completely wrong. Those notions were shaped by films like G.I. Jane - a film that’s focused on a female character attaining masculine equality and physical accomplishments. In fact, most portrayals of women in the military have been in this vein - showing military women as masculine, isolated, intense, and driven beyond all else. To me these explorations that ignores the femininity and complexity of female characters feels tired, and doesn’t align with what I believe to be female empowerment. My sister and her friends embody a more modern vision of a military woman. They do work hard, they are strong physically, and yes they are extremely committed to their service, but they are also bright, spirited, and perceptive women who have incredibly deep friendships.

This is also not a film about firsts. Female fighter pilots are an extreme minority (currently there are only 80 women who fly fighter planes in the US Air Force) and women of color are even more rare. Despite the fact that they are unicorns, these characters are not the first women to do what they do. Showcasing these modern young women as “normal” in their roles is important to celebrate. Becoming a pilot is an attainable career path for young women, and representing that with this film is a powerful way to share that idea.

In my work to prepare for this film, I had the privilege of consulting with many military aviatrix’, both retired and still on active duty. Across the board, these women have gone to great lengths to make a career of flying. Most have made complex life choices to commit to this path, my sister included. These life choices impact their personal relationships greatly, yet the pride and joy these women have for what they do is infectious. Eyes sparkle when they speak about flying. Determination steadies their voice when they speak about the precise decision making their work requires. Many of them spoke to me about the complexities of being in a dogfight like the one featured in this film. The rules of engagement are clear, but the particulars of a situation can be complex and require split second decision making. In the moment you must rely on your judgement and the trust of your wingmen and women. I’ve been so deeply affected by their stories and the prowess with which they handle both the engineering and emotional elements of this work. I cannot fully express my admiration for these women, but I’ve done my best to do them justice with this film.

Sara and Marie have flown countless hours as a fighter jet team and have been training for years to be deployed by the US Air Force. Stationed in sleepy Destin, FL and itching for some real action, they finally get called to active duty at an inconvenient time - in the middle of Sara’s bachelorette party. Tension mounts, because they must accept the offer as a team. Marie is ready to go at a moment’s notice, but Sara’s imminent wedding plans make it a tough choice for her- spend her wedding day flying a mission or walking down the aisle. Partners in the air, and true friends on the ground, Sara and Marie must prove they can handle whatever dogfights come their way.

CAST: Marie - Jaz Sinclair, Sara - Samantha Boscarino andJane - Ana Coto
Shannon Gibson - Executive Producer
Christina Norman - Executive Producer
Christy Spitzer Thornton - Executive Producer
Melina Lizette - Executive Producer
Adrienne Becker - Executive Producer
Steve Farneth- Producer
Erica Fishman - Producer
Kate Bolger - R29 Producer
Larry Langton- DP
Pete Martich - Editor
Susannah Honey - Production Designer
Emily Moran - Costume Designer
Curtis Carlson - Visual Effects Supervisor
John Ross - Composer

Sara’s bachelorette party is all shots and cigarettes, until she and her maid of honor, Marie, get invited to report for active duty that threatens the wedding plan. Accompanied by Sara's cousin Jane, they continue to party for the night, but the big decision hangs over them: to go and call off the wedding, or wait for the next big chance to prove themselves in the field. These two twenty-somethings have been training for years to be deployed by the US Air Force, so they can deal with this too, right?

Photo Content from Nicole Emanuele

"The film is inspired by real women who serve as aviators in the military. I aim to shine a light on a side of military women rarely showcased: their close friendships and the complex lives they lead. I've been so deeply affected by their stories and the prowess with which they handle both the engineering and emotional elements of this work. I cannot fully express my admiration for these women, but I’ve done my best to do them justice with this film."
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