Interviewed by Barry John Terblanche
Questions to Jose Andres Ramirez, Director of Is This It? and his two lead actors – Nathan Vincenti and Sidney Roseann White.
Andres Ramirez is truly passionate about the world of films and at the age of 15, he had the privilege of taking a high school filmmaking class lectured by acclaimed director Carlos Algara, who coached him for his first short production. In 2016, he produced his first short film, Why?. Since then, he has written, produced, and directed a few more good short films. He will graduate from New York University in May 2022.
Cult Critic – You are a screenwriter too… you screen-wrote “Is this it?” How did this story idea come to you?
Andres Ramirez – The story is personal, mainly inspired by how certain relationships have shaped and impacted my dreams. The movie has been in development for over four years. I began writing the film in December 2018 when I was just 23. Therefore, the movie also reflects the uncertainty and many multiple changes I experienced during my early twenties, especially after moving four times to land in my dream school and once again becoming anxious about the future upon graduation, now being 26 years old. In essence, this is a film of exploring my maturity as I question the value of my dreams while creating a love letter to the people who have influenced me in the most organic, honest, and personal yet universal way..
Cult Critic – After having written the screenplay. What was your biggest take on it… your drive to see this filmed?
AR – As I continued to develop the script, I fell in love with the characters and their ambitions, while I added some fun Easter eggs, personal experiences, and my passion for cinema, essentially making it more personal. A major reason to tell the story was that I was lucky to have professor Ken Dancyger as my mentor. To this day, he continues to push me to develop further and perfect the script and production. I feel the proudest to this date with the final script that I feel will made me evolve as a filmmaker.
Cult Critic – The log-line reads that we are in for a powerful love drama. Would you share a little more insight into the upcoming movie?
AR – Without spoiling the film, this film is about two dreamers, Anders, and Natalie, in a very fragile and traditional stage in life, such as graduating from college. In essence, this movie will explore the nature of the impact of relationships, how they shape and alter our dreams, and how the growth and achievement of our dreams impact our relationships. I hope that the film will make the audience reflect on the value and sacrifice of our dreams, as the characters question how much they are willing to sacrifice in the name of their dreams.
Cult Critic – What are you hoping the audience takes from your movie?
AR – Firstly, I hope the film’s drama entertains the audience. Secondly, I hope the audience can relate to the characters based on their own experience: nostalgia and a sense of bitter sweetness about what is lost and further question the value of their dreams and the sacrifices they made to accomplish them. In addition, we will shoot the film entirely in Kodak’s Motion Picture Super 16 and Super 8 formats. I hope that people will appreciate the cinematic organic, naturalistic lighting look of Super 16 for the developing drama, contrasting to the nostalgic bittersweet feel of Super 8 for the memories the couple has.
Cult Critic – Your two lead actors, Nathan Vincenti and Sidney RoseAnn White, are both acclaimed actors. Have you worked with either of them before, and or how did you cast them?
AR – Casting has been a very interesting process, and I am very lucky to be working such a generous, kind, and talented cast. In Nathan’s case, I had worked with him on a set before. However, we didn’t stay in touch. Then by an act of fate, we ran into each other and re- established contact after. I offered him to do scenes in a directing class, but little did we know that Covid would cancel the plan. During the pandemic, we engaged and realized how similar we are. After discussing the “Is This it?” project and working on a crucial scene on a Zoom workshop, I casted Nathan to play Anders back in April of 2020. In the case of Sidney, things were a little bit different. I had another actress that unfortunately had to drop the project. Luckily Nathan was able to connect me with Sidney. I remember feeling nervous because of her strong resume. After our first conversation, we connected and realized that we were going to work together. In addition, and very important to the plot, Nathan and Sidney had strong chemistry read within the first few minutes. They were perfect to for the roles of Anders and Natalie. I am so fortunate to have them as actors in this project, and I can’t wait to start the production with them, and hopefully continue working with them in future movies.
Questions to Nathan Vincenti, lead actor of “Is This It?”
Nathan is a highly trained and mercilessly passionate French-American performer/actor who shines in a wide variety of films, theatrical productions, new media/VR experiences, marketing campaigns, and television shows.
Cult Critic – Your biography is impressive. What inspired you to take a career in acting, and if you would share some early day memorable moments.
Nathan Vincenti – What inspired me to take on a career in acting is that I recognized in myself at a very early age an ease, and passion for performing that I only saw elsewhere in the heroes I loved watching on screen and on stage. I feel that every person is born with a gift or gifts, that we are all responsible for finding out what that gift is and sharing it with the world. My gift happens to be what I love doing most in the world which is entertaining other people, transporting myself and them into another world of fun, magic, and storytelling. The moment I knew however I would be an actor professionally was my freshman year of high school. I was 14 and had just gotten injured, unfortunately getting me kicked off the baseball team. I needed something to do and the school play was already cast so I ended up landing the gig of stage-managing the school’s production of “The Crucible”. The crucible is a great piece of literature, a beautiful play, but a LONG play. Watching my peers turn this play which runs about three hours when performed well, into a 5 hour torture session made me vow to never spare the world of my acting abilities ever again.
Cult Critic – Have you worked with Andres Ramirez before? What inspired you to work with him?
NV – This is technically my first real project with Andres. We met on a mutual friend’s project back at NYU and met a few years later. We agreed to work together on “is this it?” and since then have collaborated on several projects. However, in many ways my personal relationship with Andres is based on our mutual passion to work with one another on this project. He is a relentless artist who is incredibly passionate about his craft in a way you see few people apply themselves to anything. I know Andres will die for cinema, as someone who feels equally committed to his life and work–these are the kind of stakes which inspire me to work with any filmmaker. The kind that live, eat, sleep, and breathe their work as a part of their being.
Cult Critic – In, “Is this it?” you’ll be playing a lead role as, Andres Davis. You read the script… what inspired you to take this role?
NV – What inspired me most to take the role is Andres and his love for the script. Seeing someone so passionate about telling a story and opening up to the world about their own life and experiences is a beautiful thing. The script was honest and I related to it, helping tell this story is something I knew I wanted to be a part of.
Cult Critic – Have you ever been in a film with your co-lead actor, Sidney RoseAnn White. Be it so, or not, have you met her pre-production. Your views on working with her.
NV – It is such an incredible thing that we were able to bring Sidney on for this project. We had originally cast another actress, however–that actress wasn’t able to continue with the project for personal reasons. I had briefly worked with Sid before on a few small projects and she seemed like someone I really wanted to get to know and work with more. I sent Andres her information hoping he would feel as impressed by her as I did, we started working all together pretty shortly after. It’s been an amazing process and Sid has brought so much to this project–its always a pleasure to work with her.
Cult Critic – “Is this it” Is seemingly an emotional story. What would you like the audience to take from the movie?
NV – I am hoping people take away from this story whatever it is that they need from it. Everyone is going to have a different experience watching this film depending on their own experiences with love, with heartbreak, with their own passions and career… However, if people take anything, I would hope that it might be to communicate more and more clearly how we feel.
Whatever it is you desire, however hard or impossible it may seem to achieve, there is no better way to distance yourself from having it than bottling that desire up inside. We ruin relationships, opportunities, and our own experience of life when we assume how people feel and stop communicating our own feelings. We need to talk to one another, be curious about each others’ experience of life, and help each other live the best lives we possibly can–we’re all here together, we might as well help each other rather than hurt one another.
Questions to Sidney Roaseann White, lead actor of “Is This It?”
Sidney Roseann White is an actress and model based in New York, NY and can be seen in Hulu’s Red is the Color of Beauty, every episode of season one of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl as a Core Student, various short films and music videos. She recently finished production for the films Moonlight Homicide (16mm film), Beyond Closed Doors, Fucking Flaubert (16mm film), Sheltering With You, Palace of Wisdom, and the television pilot Pink Moon.
Cult Critic – Your biography is impressive. An actor and model. What inspired you to take a career in acting, and if you would share some early day memorable moments.
Sidney RoseAnn White – This is a difficult question for me because I never put much thought into the “why” of what prompted me to have a career in acting. It just clicked. It always made sense to me in my mind. I loved all aspects of the arts when I was younger. Thankfully, I had early exposure to the arts due to my family’s love for all things art: movies, paintings, theater, crafts, architecture – you name it. I definitely owe it to my family for having me so heavily immersed in the arts at such a young age. I started acting with a local theater company in my hometown at the age of eight and continued to do plays with them until the end of middle school. I did theater all through middle school and high school at my school’s program and even did a few short films in high school. What really intensified my love for acting was the New York Film Academy summer intensives that I had the privilege of going to during my sophomore and junior year in high school. There, I was able to really hone in my passion for film and on screen acting. I got to collaborate with kids from completely different places and walks of life. I realized how powerful this mode of art is in bringing all types of people and backgrounds together at NYFA. It was a whole lot of love, community, and passion; all things I seek in my adult day-to-day life.
Cult Critic – Why did you choose the role? – Maybe, the strength of the character, Natalie Jessica Burns, in the screenplay?
SW – Truly, what inspired me to take this role was Andres passion and love for the characters and the story. His investment in the characters is so veracious that it only made me want to take on the role of Natalie even more. Natalie is soft, resolute, and enigmatic. She’s loving (cautiously) and brings those she loves up to the top with her. She sees things in others that most people would be oblivious of. She inspires me and I have a lot to learn from her.
SW – My co-actor Nathan, who has been on this project far longer than I, is one of the reasons I decided to take part in this film. I first met him only a few months before I met Andres on a set for a scene called High Fidelity. Not only is he one of my favorite actors to work with but he is also one of my favorite people here in New York. The man is driven, fervent, and hilarious. An absolute joy to work with.
Cult Critic – Is This It? is seemingly an emotional story. What would you like the audience to take from the movie?
SW – You can’t ever predict what an individual will take from a piece of art but, that’s the beauty of it. No two experiences are the same. For some, they may resonate with the notion that comes from a love that could have been but never will be; seeing how that’s what’s best for the two individuals. Needing to be set free from each other in order to soar. For others, they may feel frustration at the characters for not trying hard enough to salvage the love they both know will linger. Whichever that may be, I do hope that the audience sees themselves in the characters in a way they couldn’t have predicted; finding a likeness within their own personal truth.