We had the good fortune of connecting with Luisa Novo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Luisa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
As I get older, this question has become central to, really, my everyday life. The film industry is super fast paced, and while you work on your passion projects you work freelance gigs to make money. And they all have deadlines. It’s very hard to delineate a work and non-work time, but it’s super important that I do. Realizing that I do my best work when I also make time for myself to do things for fun, exercise, and sleep has changed my habits and the way I approach activities. Things will get done when they need to, but I can do them in less time with focus, instead of completely ignoring all my other needs and stay on one task for longer than it’s necessary. This is harder with writing and more creative work, so the key is to schedule extra time for those things and knowing when you are going to do them, so you can do non-work activities another day. It’s a mindset that you have to choose every day, you have to be conscious of your bad habits to be able to change them.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m excited to be venturing into new projects. I just directed a workplace comedy web series pilot I’m super proud of, but it was my first time directing comedy. I think comedy sometimes gets a bad rep for being a form of escapism, but comedy is really about everyday people and their triumphs and failings in a way that people can relate to. I’ve been working on this project for a while now, and getting it to the finish line was amazing. As with many independent projects it had its fair share of financial hurdles, and then Covid hit and the whole industry went into lockdown with the rest of the country. We pivoted, set new deadlines, learned how to work safely in Covid times, and did it. The series is called breakLAND, and it follows a young man starting a new job as a theme park photographer, and all the colorful people that work there. It has screened in two festivals already this year, with a third one coming up in August. We hope to be able to make more episodes in the future.
Another project I’m super excited about is an Anthology feature I’m writing with 6 other women filmmakers. It focuses on women’s stories inside the same house through 7 decades. We are currently applying for grants and looking for financing. We started working on it at the beginning of lockdown, and it’s been a beacon of light to collaborate like this in the year that was 2020. Being creative is hard but also necessary for people that work in this industry, both professionally and personally, so it’s always about finding ways that work for you to exercise your creativity.
Both these projects have been collaborations and I loved it. Writing can be very solitary and lonely, but making a project from the beginning with other people has been super joyful and exciting. Hopefully I can make this the norm for all my projects in the future. I am also interested in directing projects that originate with other writers, in any genre as long as the story and characters speak to me and I feel I can contribute to it and add my vision to theirs.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I fell in love with hiking since moving to LA. There are so many places to visit! I live near Runyon Canyon, so I go there all the time. At least I did before the pandemic, and can’t wait to make it a routine again. The Los Angeles National Forest has amazing hikes too, you can find different types for all tastes.
Griffith Park is also a staple. You can hike to the Hollywood Sign and visit the Observatory.
The Hollywood Bowl to watch a show in the summer. To see John Williams play your favorite movie soundtracks, you can’t go wrong with that.
Everyone should visit at least one beach. The most famous are Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice, but going further south you can find beautiful beaches too.
And if you love a theme park like I do, there’s Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As cliche as it sounds, my Mom absolutely deserves credit for everything that I am and I’ve accomplished. She has always challenged me to try new things, to travel and be adventurous, and she supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams. But the support of my peers and groups like The Alliance of Women Directors have been invaluable to help me continue on a career path that is super competitive and still doesn’t recognize women’s talent as much as men’s. I’ve met so many women filmmakers who I am collaborating with or that just really keep me sane and focused.
Ian Van der Werff Stefano Matteo Vlad Nikitin Bruno Bondarenv de Sousa