Spotlight on French Film Producer, Nick Panasci

With his second feature film about to be released in early 2019 we caught up with Nick to find out about his latest film projects. Arriving in Australia 8 years ago to study, his life’s passion of film production was always going to play a part in his experience here. Nick has now produced his second feature film, We All Lie My Darling. Based on true events and his own life experiences, the film is close to his heart. We find out here how he started his own film production company in Australia, what it takes to build a name and profile in the film production industry and what he thinks of Australia.

When did you first become interested in film production? That was back home in France of course, but when I came to Australia it took me almost a year once I was settled to be more comfortable with my English and that’s when I started off wanting to do it and then I went to the Cine film school and that was when the passion became reality. Since I was a kid I was passionate about movies and having all the cassettes and getting ready every movie to record on the cassette and getting the jacket ready for the image for the cover. We used to buy the magazine that you could cut for the cover of the cassette. I’ve always been passionate about writing because I write my own films and I was like, how can I combine creativity and writing. And yeah, that’s how I came about.

Nick’s second feature film launching in 2019

What was your first job ever? I worked in a cafeteria in the airport. Just cleaning the toilet, giving mash, but it was fun – it was my first job! And I worked at Blockbuster on the weekends. When I started there, DVDs started to come out.

When you were 12 what did you want to be? I wanted to be a lifeguard, like in Baywatch! And I knew back then that it would be LA or Australia. Because I saw that movie from Australia about the lifeguards so I wanted to be a lifeguard. I started to do some charity work for Red Cross but I want to see if I can be a volunteer lifeguard also in Australia – in France you can volunteer for this.

What was your first impression of Australia? I didn’t like it. I lived in London and New York and I came here on a working holiday visa just because, you know, I was like, I’m going to travel a bit. It’s getting better now but it was very backward – everything was very behind in terms of fashion and food, culture, it’s like an island and then I arrived in Sydney and I was like ‘is that it?’ Where are the shops? But then you get into it and you discover Australian brand and fashion designers, then you get your own style. It took me over a year to start to like it. And I then could appreciate how lucky I was to come here because it’s getting harder and harder and more expensive. Its not about focussing on a negative. And in 8 years I can notice the changes.

“I came here on a working holiday visa…It took me over a year to start to like it. And then I could appreciate how lucky I was to come here.”

What has been your greatest achievement so far? I think it has been travelling. I was homeless. My parents kicked me out because I was gay and I lived on the street for a few months and dealing with drugs and everything and I got really down. Then you make a decision – you go either up or down and I decided there was only one way and take the way up. I didn’t talk to my parents for 7 years but now we’re fine. I talk to them. But that’s what my film is actually about, my life, my journey, divided into 6 characters but it’s more about giving that message to try to make people understand what they don’t understand. That was my biggest thing. There is always worse than you. I’m lucky I’m not living in a country where people die because they have a same sex partner so at the end of the day we are lucky because there is worse.

“I was homeless…I lived on the street for a few months… then you make a decision – you go either up or down.”

What do you miss about France? Sometimes where I used to go out in my village when I was a kid. All the memories – I grew in a small village surrounded by vineyards, wineries because every town in France has their own winery. So that’s what I miss. I used to say food but Australia has become really good! So it’s really similar to Europe now in terms of food.

So now you can find your much longed-for cheese?! Yes, and now I can find my baguette! There are more and more good places and they’ve got bread! No I think I miss being surrounded by my memories and to walk the streets where I grew up and used to live. The markets and the bars where I can get my pastis, French alcohol.

What do you like about living in Australia? The people, multiculturalism and the way Australia is growing so fast; and the lifestyle – I always liked the chilled lifestyle, speaking English, and being able to combine European culture a bit with all the travellers that live here; it’s closer to European than American culture, than English even. I like to being able to combine speaking English – some streets are a bit like the US, but the food and people from Europe – I like that mix.

Nick walking the Inner West streets of Sydney

What do you for fun or relaxation on your days off? Writing, especially for my films, I like to read the news every day because I get inspired. Rollerblading and basketball and charity work, walking, going out, being out. I like to discover the streets and new places. It can be really modern, or the countryside, or CBD.

How did you get into the film industry here? Contacts; the film school. It was only me so I made a film myself to show what I can do on my own, found a sponsor, the whole process in an amateur way, seeking advice and doing it. Now I’ve got something to show I can be treated a bit more seriously because before I had nothing. In my film crew I have someone who worked on Mad Max 4, someone who worked for Netflix in Japan, I’ve got actors who worked for Home and Away, singers who performed on X Factor. They (your network) help you to meet the right people.

How did you find sponsorship for your film? I emailed people who could help. Having contacts in marketing and management in Myer, hotels. It’s about your attitude and your approach. Just keep talking to people, it’s tiring but at the end of the day it’s really about believing in yourself and being passionate. But you have to do it, don’t wait for someone else to help you.

“It’s about your attitude and your approach. Just keep talking to people, it’s tiring but at the end of the day it’s really about believing in yourself and being passionate.”

What advice would you give to others looking to get into the film industry? I think it’s about knowing what you want. Go to film school, that’s for sure, you need to know the technical – camera and lighting etc. Know if you want to be a writer, a director, a producer and DOP,  a manager, develop some other skills as well.

What’s your latest film about? We all Lie My Darling is coming out in 2019 and it’s about my journey as a 20 year old to now. I’m targeting some sensitive subjects like racism, being gay, being a drag queen etc. But it’s also about discrimination within the gay community itself – there is even non-acceptance and inequality within this community. For example, the opening scene where 19 year old Nick is kicked out of home, it’s not about ‘oh poor Nick’, or about making the mum look bad, it’s also about trying to understand her position – why she kicked him out of the house – because of her education? The way she was raised? So not taking a position or a side. By giving respect, people who don’t understand are encouraged to give respect in return. So you find a little touch of Pretty Woman, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding!

How long did it take to make? Did you have many obstacles? Yes, especially sponsors, a sponsor who backed out at the last minute. We did castings in LA, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. We had someone from LA coming to support us and spend a month with us. We had a lot of great support from the straight community, from pubs and hotels and restaurants, not as much from the gay community. We had great support from the political side, from Christine Foster, the Olympic diver Matthew Mitchum, one of the actors from (the movie) The Sapphires. Finding the funds is difficult but at the end of the day we made it. So in total, it took two years.

Nick Panasci’s first feature film, Wish For Tomorrow

What are the strangest habits of Australians? Politics. In France, I thought we were the worst but you are the worst! Make up your mind guys! Just don’t put a new one in (Prime Minister) because what’s the point? And what is with you guys drinking so much?! Is that a challenge? Is that a competition who is smashed the first? Can’t you just enjoy just one, and some food?

Any travel plans? Australia is such a beautiful country. Western Australia – how beautiful is that? The north west. There are so many villages – I heard there is a Spanish and French town 4 hours drive from Perth.