Award of Excellence – “Nora Ephron Goes To Prison” (USA)

Title: Nora Ephron Goes To Prison
Runtime: 8 min
Country: USA
Director: Hannah Elless
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: December, 2018

Synopsis: Friendship transcends fantasy in this musicalized love letter to Nora Ephron and New York City.

Two women from very different worlds meet in unexpected circumstances. Through their common love of Nora Ephron and her films – Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally – hope conquers a confining reality as an unlikely friendship blooms. Watch what happens when Mary meets Ally. 

FILMMAKER Q&A (Suzy Evana, Writer):

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

SE: I was trying to think of a film idea with roles for two strong women, and I was trying to think of what do all women have in common and I thought: rom coms. I didn’t want to write an outright rom com, though, so I made a joke to a friend that I should write like, “Nora Ephron Goes to Prison.” As soon as I said that, she was like, “That’s an amazing title.” So I built the concept around the title: a story about two very different women who find each other in prison and bond over their shared love of romantic comedies. As the film evolves, their relationship and escapism from their prison setting starts to mirror the rom coms they’re imagining. 

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

SE: This film came together both quickly and after a long time. It took me about 6-8 weeks to write the film, and we went into production shortly after that. However, the editing and post-production process took a few years.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

SE: Creating a cohesive story arc with multi-dimensional characters. With so little time and in such a visual medium (I’d argue it’s more visually driven than feature film or TV), I found it hard to get across a full story in the short film format.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

SE: Write what you know. I know everyone says that, but I think drawing from your own experience and your own knowledge for your first film is crucial. That doesn’t mean it’s autobiographical, but choose something you’re passionate about and you’re excited to work on. It’s a lot of work — some of it frustrating — so you need to be really excited about the idea and the concept and know that that passion is going to sustain itself over the entire process.