We had the good fortune of connecting with Nora Jobling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nora, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I don’t think you can pursue a career in the arts without a healthy amount of risk taking. The very nature of what we do is a risk because there is no guarantee of success. We all go in blindly hoping that the risk will be worth the reward, and personally, I have found that it is. This is an industry of unknowns, and there is always a fear of rejection or failure, but putting yourself out there is the only way to succeed. The exciting part is that anything can happen, and you never know what kind of amazing opportunity might be lurking on the other side of that uncomfortable phone call. The best things in my life and career have come from pushing myself outside my comfort zone and taking big risks. So send the email, make the short film, ask for the coffee meeting. The worst thing anyone can say is no, but what if they say yes?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I always knew I wanted to work in the film industry. I grew up on the stage, starring in all the plays and telling anyone who would listen about my grand plans to move to Los Angeles to become a movie star. When you’re young, you watch movies and think, “Hey, thats what I want to do!” but what you are seeing are the actors on screen, so you think that’s the way to do it. It was only when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of being an actor that I realized how much more there was to filmmaking, and that what I really wanted to do was tell stories. In the fifteen years I’ve spent working in the film industry, I’ve done everything from acting to casting to producing, but once I started writing and directing, I found my true calling. Writing gives me the opportunity to tell the kinds of stories that excite and interest me, directing allows me to use my unique blend of leadership, creative and organizational skills to execute those stories.
In my writing, I like to focus on character and relationships. I’ve always been a romantic and that usually works it’s way into the stories I tell. I find that relationships, be them romantic, platonic, family or friend are something we can all understand and relate to. Relationships are a great lens to explore human growth and major life moments through. Is there a more universal experience than falling in love or having your heart broken? In my storytelling, I like to weave romance in with a deeper message, be that loss, growth or self discovery.
Breaking in as a filmmaker is tough. There is no good way to get directing experience except to do it yourself, and even then, you still need other people to make it happen. After dabbling in some sketches and web content, I decided to go full bore and make my first short film, For You. At that point, I’d made enough friends who knew what they were doing and able to help me bring my vision to life, but the whole thing would never have happened without the kindness and willingness of other people to lend me their talents. I was in a stagnant place in my career, unsure if I even wanted to continue down this path, and making For You reinvigorated my love of storytelling. It gave me the fuel I needed to keep going, keep writing and keep moving forward. After making that film, I landed me my first commercial directing job and won a festival that awarded me a large sum of free camera equipment which I used to make my second short film, On Second Thought. That film screened at a few festivals, and one in particular led to a lot of paid writing and directing jobs and the sale of my first scripted series. I’ve really learned that everything is a stepping stone, and even though we all want to skip to the part where we are successful, there is so much you have to learn along the way.
I’ve faced a lot of challenges as I’ve grown my career, Hollywood is not an easy town. This is a business of unknowns which can be hard for a planner like myself. There is no clear ladder of how to succeed, instead, you often zigzag. You’re constantly taking two steps forward, three steps back and four to the side. At least once a week I probably wonder aloud “what am I doing with my life?” because it can all seem chaotic at times, but then you get that one phone call, the plot twist that changes everything and reinvigorates you, and reminds you why you set out on this path in the first place. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. For every low moment I experience in my career, it is nothing compared to the high you get when you see your story come to fruition.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned in my career are to say yes to everything, because you will always learn something from it. Be nice to everyone, because nobody likes working with assholes and this town is a lot smaller than it seems. And it’s great to have a dream, but dreams still take a lot of hard work to fulfill.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Start the day with a coffee and croissant from Tartine, then head over to Griffith Park to hike up to the Observatory. Take in views of the Hollywood sign, the city, and the picturesque location of the famous James Dean knife fight. After you’re done hiking, head down into Los Feliz for lunch at The Alcove, then go exploring around the many hip shops of Silverlake. In the afternoon, hop in the car, get on Sunset Blvd, and drive it all the way to the beach. Along the way you’ll get to see a variety of famous neighborhoods and bits of the city. One you hit the coast, drive up the 1 and find a nice spot in Malibu to sit on the beach and enjoy the sunset with a beverage of your choosing.
For dinner, hop over to Montana Ave for the wine, cheese and homemade pastas at Forma. After dinner, if you’re still feeling ambitious, head back to Hollywood to take in some live music at The Hotel Cafe.
LA is an amazing city, but it’s very large and spread out. Make sure you have a good podcast or playlist for your adventure, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the car!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Filmmaking is a collaborative process and nobody can do it on their own. I dedicate this shoutout to my parents, my partner, my incredible friends, and everyone who has ever given notes on a script, lent a hand on a short film or graced me with their talents on a job. I am nothing without the people who support me.
Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user9599552