As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself and let us know why you became a filmmaker?

My name is Nicole Benoit. I’m a Director first followed by Writer. I have often filled roles such as Cinematographer, Producer and Editor.

I have been a creator since I was born, storytelling from the time I could speak. I have been passionate about writing and telling story through visual mediums from an elementary school age. I went to university to study law, business and psychology while also acting and raising two babies as a sole provider single mom. I did post grad in marketing and advertising and went on to be a creative director.

I felt a greater drive to be behind the camera telling stories to the world that moves and effects them on a cerebral and emotional level. I moved from the corporate arts world to film and began writing and directing films with a humanistic narrative voice at its core. I’ve been told by many who have experienced my vision and my work, that I have touched them deeply, and have profoundly affected the way they view life and the challenges they face in a positive impactful way. This response has kept me motivated and hungry to create more stories that are built from diverse worlds filled with complex characters who all struggle to strike a balance between the challenges, experiences, failings and fears we all experience as universal human truths. I explore how these human realities are usually in conflict with our deepest desires.

Give some more information about the films you have made so far?

My first film ‘A Cry in The Dark,’ explored the five stages of grief and trauma through a young girls experiences with acute loss.

When those closest to her face the death of her mother due to cancer, followed by her father's inability to cope with her death,

resulting in his subsequent suicide, the weight of the families survival falls on herself and her elder brother’s shoulders.

The story illuminates the responsibilities placed on her shoulders in the aftermath of this tragedy.

She steps into the role of a step-in mother figure, to her surviving family. We witness her ultimate sense of failure at living up

to her preconceived mothers expectations, when tragedy strikes again with her youngest brother - while under her care.

I made a comedy short once. Comedy is funny, pardon the pun .. as a dramatically inclined story teller, I have a side which favours

an abundance of laughter in my life. I think I’m funny with the right people. However writing a comedy and having it live as such for

everyone is the most daunting of all genres. You are constantly doubting yourself and questioning the work, but wait, was that really funny? Lol.

Tell us a bit on how you got started in the film world. What sparked your interest in visual storytelling?

When I was in advertising there was a market crash and everyone lost their jobs. Some of my work was subsequently stolen and sold as a 50 million dollar high concept a couple of years later. Nothing will crush you more as a sole providing single mom as your daughter witnessing your work on 20 foot billboards that she personally participated in creating. I lost my faith in humanity, sank into a depression, quit advertising completely and used writing as my personal therapeutic recourse out of a challenging period and onto a new chapter of reinvention and rebirth.

Why did you decide to tell this specific story in "A Cradle Falls”?

Though I have journals filled with writings of romance and comedy; some writings of poetry and others daydreams of an endlessly utopian world. There were other writings during periods of darker struggles and strife; where I wrote from a deeply reflective and authentic place.

I allowed others to read my personal journaling. Surprising to myself at the time, both men and women resonated with the underlying themes in my writings. I was genuinely taken by surprise at their responses. My raw vulnerability and willingness to be deeply authentic in

the depths of my own joy or grief during different phases of my life, as we all do, was married with an eternally optimistic

determination to learn from and rise from those depths and to always live life to its richest fullness. It illuminated powerful messages

to strive to become a stronger, more resilient person and had a deep, meaningful impact on how others viewed their own struggles,

their own personal fight to rise above their circumstances and to find a meaningful place in their own worlds.

I decided then to apply the energy of my creativity, and my past years of experience in front of the camera, to a higher humanistic calling. To touch peoples lives through the power of the pen and the picture.

When we see your film, it's wonderful! We're sure it was quite difficult to reach this level of perfection, not only in story and acting but also in unique directing. Can you share how you started and finished this film, what were some of the challenges you encountered while filming and how did you overcome them?

Thank you so much. That accolade is deeply appreciated.

I had originally cast Mary with another actress, who oddly ended up having severe mental health issues and a mental breakdown one week before we shot. On the morning of our rehearsal and on my birthday, someone came to my city place which was also my studio (I was a master photographer at that time also) in the cover of the night. They defaced my vehicle in the most violent, vial way you can imagine.

The nastiest words were spray painted in red all over my silver SUV. Brake fluid and bleach were poured everywhere inside and out, and someone with a huge knife had violently knifed the entire interior and exterior of my car. It was terrifying and violating on a level I can’t describe.

You could honestly see the rage that they welded in the downward cleaving of the path the knife took when it carved out the fabric on the seats and the dashboard. It is the same arc Mary uses with the knife she wields in her murderous rage in the film. It absolutely terrified me.

This act was clearly the product of an incredibly disturbed and psychotic mind. It was bizarre that I was shooting and directing a story

of a person stabbing someone in a psychotic break and then being the victim of someone in a similar state. Once again I found myself

questioning is this ‘Life imitating art or art imitating life’. Surreal to the next level. The police were called, a criminal investigation

was launched and we had a bodyguard on the day of the shoot. We aren’t even sure I was the target or if it was some mistaken identity.

I moved from that space not long after.

How did the screenplay shift before/during/after the shoot?

The screenplay actually didn’t shift at all. I was meticulous in the writing process. Once it was locked we went in and shot it out as is.

Your actors made the story come to life very well ! What was your casting process like?

Did you have any actors in mind while working on the screenplay?

Both Cordelia (Alexandria Benoit) and Isabelle (Iylie Mitchell) were pre-picked based on their talents, sense of social responsibility

and passion for the subject and story. They had an acute sense of the pathology, psychology and trauma the characters experienced,

which was so critical to the telling of the film. The woman, Avelyn Graye, who played Mary was cast one week before

we rolled into production to replace our first actress. She walked into our rehearsal to audition and ended up spending the entire

day rehearsing as Mary. She was such a natural and walked out with the role.

How did you work with the cast to achieve such realistic performances?

Was there any improve on set, or everything was exactly according to the screenplay?

We did a few pre-shoot rehearsals where we really worked out the blocking and the emotional tensions required of each character. I had long discussions with all the actors about the psychology of the characters and the story elements, and then I let them loose with guidance and direction on set where they needed it.

Your film "A Cradle Falls" was officially selected in the

"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".

Did you have any other burden during filming?

We were beyond thrilled to have been recognized for our passion and hard work as an official selection in the

"American Golden Picture International Film Festival”.

Some of the challenges I covered in question 5, however another huge challenge obviously is budget constraints.

It is a double edged sword. I ended up doing the entire post which on the one hand I am in gratitude for because

it made me a stronger producer, writer, director. I have always picture edited and many times liked the creativity of foley however scoring/composing, sound mixing and design are beasts I’ve had to do on two films. I was not prepared for those roles and I never want to do them again lol. I have new respect for those departments hands down. Having to do the entire post process yourself caused me serious burnout.

I wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but somehow I kept going. I learned so much technical knowledge on the back end of the filmmaking process that I hope it now makes me better when approaching elements of storytelling from the front end of any film in the future.

How was the movie accepted by audiences so far? What were some of the reactions?

Many people have cried, especially in the context of the backstory and what a lot of people know I have gone through.

People have expressed that all of the elements combined, made for a moving and riveting film. Similar personal experiences also

made the story even more salient to them. More-so, people were impressed with the execution of the story elements given the

challenge of making the best quality production we could, under such tight budget constraints, and with the limited manpower we had

in making this project come to screen. We have gratefully won a Merit award to the first festival we submitted to;

for outstanding achievement and exceptional talent. We just started our festival release so we are hoping it is well received everywhere.

For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn?

This is coming from the culmination of all films I have worked on. Pick your tribe and team carefully. Make sure that you have the right chemistry personally and professionally with your entire team and cast. Pay attention that you all have the same work ethic, vision and commitment to any project you collaborate on. Second, don’t do so many jobs yourself. It takes too hard a toll on a person professionally and personally.

The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do so far for distributing your film?

Right now we are working our way through the festival circuit. We are interested in looking at short form distribution platforms.

Filmmaking is so hard and full of stress, What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?

Filmmaking is like breathing for me. I can’t NOT create. However when I go into burn out, I take time off for self care, meditate and find new adventures to excite my soul with those I care for. New experiences breath new life into you and give you fertile soil for new stories.

I also kick-box, row, spin and run outdoors in beautiful nature trails all year. A commitment to these core activities, for me,

brings me back to a state of zen, relieves stress, and gets my creative brain flowing.

   If you could speak to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you have for them?

Is there a certain quality that you feel is essential to success?

Oh boy. Would I EVER like to talk to my younger self, lol. I would be more thorough in weighing every decision I made more critically.

I would warn her to guard her heart more, never give up her dreams for another persons idea of what normal is, and never stop

laughing for even one moment. I think the ability to reinvent yourself is a very powerful attribute to have. Being able to close chapters

and even books on your life as you outgrow people and relationships and even versions of yourself is the most

empowering growth strategy I have ever employed. I would say don’t be afraid to experience rebirth multiple times throughout your

life and learn to shed old skin, relationships and habits.The most important quality a person should possess,

which is essential to success, is to have the ability to always fail forward. Every failure you feel you are in, is just one more way you have

learned how not to do something. Learn from it, reflect on it, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on moving forward.

Learn from the lessons from every single experience; the good the bad and the ugly.

What are your filmmaking goals?

I am focused on shooting dramatic features but am also excited by action as a person who thrives on adrenaline.

I truly believed I was Wonder Woman in grade one. I knew in my heart that if I spun fast enough I would turn into my hero.

I was so convinced of this that I had everyone of my classmates believing this to be true.

(Remember my rich fantasy worlds I lived in, lol) It would be such a wonderful coming full circle moment for me,

if one day I had the opportunity to shoot an installment of the Wonder Woman franchise.

What are you currently working on and what can you tell us about your next project?

I am adapting and directing a film based on a Stephen King story in April. The team that is building around me is truly blowing my mind.

They are the best of the best in their respective fields and I’m excited by what we will achieve together.

Darrell and I are also currently in the works to adapt a feature film. The film will be based on a true life story from a published

book to the screen. All I can reveal for now, is that the original story has already had a book run. It is based on a specific person deep

in the MOB for over 6 decades and has significant FBI undercover elements to it. I am currently adapting the book into a screenplay and then directing it. Darrell will be one of the key producers helming it. It’s really an exciting time; to be developing such an exciting project

that fulfills the adrenaline junky in me. To be surrounded by such incredible people and talent, telling stories together, which harness

a lot of my past experiences and pulls that body of knowledge into the foundations of the key story elements on these incredible productions.