Hannah Wacholtz

Hannah Wacholtz is an American screenwriter and director from Nashville, TN. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Pictures from Belmont University, her most well-known project to date is The Tale of Figaro. She has placed in numerous screenwriting competitions across the United States and partakes in a film-lover's podcast titled Nuclear Popcorn. 

1. Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
A: The film is called The Tale of Figaro. It's about a gnome who, in order to get his wish for true love, must go on a quest to rescue the loneliest child in the world... Which just so happens to be our world.

2. What are your ambitions with your project?
A: The ultimate goal with Figaro was to share a story I have grown to love so much. I first wrote the script in the prime of COVID when very few were able to be with their loved ones. I wanted to give others the same hope that I found in writing it. It was the perfect movie to represent who I am as a creator and to show others what I can do as a writer and director.


3. Tell us somethng about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
A: The cast and crew were just incredible. It's very rare to see a team naturally fit so well together, but I sincerely couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work on this. It took two whole years, from writing it during the pandemic and everything, to finally reach production. Many of them had been signed on to the project since day one or had never been on a set before. We brought the script to life and had so much fun doing it. I cannot thank them enough.

4. For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
A: Many who watch Figaro believe that it's aimed towards children but at heart the project is a fairytale. My firm belief is that fairytales are for everyone even if it's more lighthearted and humorous. My goal for the film was to have anyone watch it and leave having their heart lightened a bit... or grow three sizes (if you're the grinch.) We all know what it's like to be in love or search for it or be wary due to past hurts, so it's a pretty universal thing for people of any age to go through.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?
A: It's a unique tale with a lot of heart. It's relatable, funny, and endearing - but also deeply emotional and wildly entertaining. There's a massive following for media like Over the Garden Wall, Gravity Falls, and Lord of the Rings. My short is reminiscent of those while still being original in its own right so there's definitely a market for it.

6. How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
A: I'm not married to a genre but I'm finding that recently I'm diving into fantasy, comedy, and romance more often than not. My sense of humor is ingrained in almost all of my projects, so dialogue and the personalities of the characters are quick giveaways. I love color (or high contrast of black and white). I'm crazy about details in production design; I'm specific about what I want and why. With all of that in mind, plus the camerawork, it's fairly easy to tell when the project is mine. If everyone else is doing dramas, I'm probably doing the opposite!

7. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
A: I honestly never thought I'd be in film. Most people I talk to in this field say they always knew but I didn't grow up thinking I would be a director. I loved and admired film, but it's not something that ever crossed my mind as a career.

I stepped away from music and theatre after high school; I wasn't always happy in it and compared myself a lot. My choir teacher in high school used to say we weren't performing for ourselves; we were doing it for the audience.Music was so personal to me; it was my saving grace in a time where I didn't have much else so I didn't really understand what she meant at the time. But a few years later when things had changed and I made my first few projects in film classes, I finally understood what she meant. Strangely enough, it made me realize that I was doing the right thing. I had confidence in what I was doing and got involved pretty naturally. Looking back it's not as surprising that it's what I ended up loving. It only took me... Oh, twenty or so years!

8. Who is your role model?
A: I really love Julie Andrews. She's so positive and an absolute delight on and off screen. There's nothing quite like watching her in Victor Victoria for the first time.

9. Which movies are your favorites? Why?
A: Amelie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Little Women (2019), and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring are a few of my favorites. I'm also a big animation fan so Coraline, Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio, Howl's Moving Castle, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are all on my list too. Each has their own reasons as to why but I rewatch them frequently. After viewing, I'm ready to take the world by storm or go on an adventure!

10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
A: I make playlists for each story I write. It really helps with getting the vibe and tone of the film down in my head. I also make lookbooks and visual boards. As for content, there are times I write the story because I haven't seen anything like it or haven't liked what I've seen of it so far.

11. Which topics interest you the most?
A: I am extremely passionate about representation. It's my belief that representation should be the bare minimum while good representation should be the standard. I also believe that it's much harder to sell a happy emotion (and make it genuine) than a sad or angry one. I like chasing after philosophical questions or social issues that many of us are either experiencing or have wondered about at one point or another.

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
A: I have placed in many screenwriting competitions across the nation, which is a great honor, and am now sharing The Tale of Figaro with the world. I could not be more excited!

13. What do you consider most important about filming?
A: Safety, first and foremost. But also the emotional connection. If your heart's not fully in it or you start feeling like you're half-assing it, take a step back and consider why. Making a movie isn't easy; it takes a lot of energy and dedication. Remember why you wanted to tell the story so much and what others will gain by seeing it.

14. Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
A: The personal rule that I live by is every frame a photograph. I grew up taking stills, not with a camcorder or making videos for YouTube. The experience I have with photography has helped tremendously in understanding how to make a shot effective and look good, but also how to make it connect emotionally to what's happening in the story. Not only this, but I have a color theory I use thoroughly on each of my films that correlates with the characters, their environments, and the relationships they have with one another.

15. How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
A: It depends on the film! Truly. There are movies I adore from the very beginning of the craft and others made in just the last year I think are just as good. My favorite from 2022 is Everything Everywhere All At Once.

16. What can disappoint you in a movie?
A: If I can guess what's going to happen or the story is second to the visuals, I can find myself disappointed. But I'm also the first person to say if I personally didn't find something enjoyable, that doesn't mean I didn't learn from watching it or that someone else won't be entertained by it.

17. Who supports you in your film career?
A: It is not lost on me that without the kindness of others, none of this would have been possible. My father is my biggest supporter. He's been the best cheerleader for my dreams and ambitions. I love him dearly. I also wouldn't be here without the professors who taught me so much in film school, particularly in screenwriting and international film.

18. What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
A: One of my favorite reactions was at the private screening we held for all of the senior films. A group of students came up to me after they watched the film and told me they planned to dress up as the characters for Halloween. They had it all planned out. There is sincerely nothing that could have made me happier than knowing people fell in love with the characters that I'd lived with in my head for so long. As a fellow (self-titled) nerd myself, seeing others geek out over it meant the world to me. It was the best compliment. Overall, people leave sentimental and pleased. I couldn't ask for anything more than that.

19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
A: I have not! But we've submitted to a few so we'll see how it goes.

20. What are your future plans in filmmaking carriere?
A: I am planning on directing another short this spring; this time a queer love story! This means a lot to me as someone who's a part of the LGBTQ+ community. My hope is to continue in the industry as a director and screenwriter while being able to bring the best representation possible to the screen. Film, music, books... all of these creative outlets and media shed light in my life when I needed it most. My goal is to be able to do the same for others through my work. Thank you!