The 2017 Chicago Comedy Film Festival has come to a close until next year. The festival featured Chicago-made shorts which were featured at The Harold Ramis Film School, a part of The Second City, followed by two nights of shorts and narrative features screening in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. The casual and welcoming atmosphere set the right tone to not only see hilarious new movies, but to hang out with the filmmakers and talent.
CCFF founder Jessica Hardy, began the festival seven years ago and from its inception, has given an award to a top female filmmaker. Hardy explained in a previous interview with FF2 Media, “...because comedy, in the past, has been dominated by masculine voices. We’ve made it part of our objective to accept a fair amount of female producers, writers, and directors...” This year, the winner of this prestigious title as well as the Audience Choice Award went to Nadia Jordan for For the Love of George.
The film is about Poppy (Jordan) who finds out her hubby has been cheating on her. On a whim, she hops a flight to L.A. from England in search of her perfect man --- George Clooney. She just knows that if George meets her, they will live happily ever after. Staying with her best friend, Justin (Rex Lee), Poppy’s obsession gets the better of her as she spirals out of control. For the Love of George is as hilarious as it is endearing.
I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the writer and star of the film, Nadia Jordan, at the festival. Her strength and determination about creating her own material and helping other women in this industry was inspiring. Jordan shared that she’s always loved creating and recalled adapting stories into “mini plays” even at a young age for her classmates in school. She said, “...I would just do it for the fun of it and ask the teacher if it was ok to show everyone!” She continued, “It’s strange, really, as I was quite a shy child. I have always loved [getting] lost in fantasy whether it was stories, film, or music.”
After college, Jordan started her career in marketing for Universal Records. While she thoroughly enjoyed working with bands and artists, she left music and got into television production which she said, “...I wasn’t particularly happy in and that’s when I really felt the draw to get back to acting.” After training in London and New York, working on the stage and screen, she moved to L.A. Jordan recalled, “L.A. can be a hard place to get a break if you aren’t 18 and don’t have an endless list of big film credits, so I set about creating my own projects.”
Jordan admits to there being a few similarities between herself and her character “Poppy.” She said that she actually “...did move to the States following the break-up of a relationship.” She quickly added, “...although not to look for George! [And] several events that take place in the film happened to me...for example, I visited a psychic in Beverly Hills and it turned out that she had read for two of George Clooney’s ex-girlfriends!” The psychic in Jordan’s film is played by Kristen Johnston.
Jordan recalled the spark for the premise of her movie. “[It] was originally called Looking for George Clooney as George was still single at the time and it was a hot press topic as to whether George’s latest girlfriend would manage to tame him.” Jordan was also truly inspired by Clooney for his philanthropic efforts. Obviously this talented, charming, and charismatic actor has it all, but she “...was struck by his passion for the charity work he did for the Enough Project and Not on Our Watch, a charity set up by Clooney and the cast of Oceans Eleven for helping in Sudan and Darfur. You’ll see a reference to these charities in the movie.
Initially, Jordan created For the Love of George to play the lead, but she almost gave up on it. Financing, always an issue with indie filmmaking, pushed her into the producing role as well. Jordan then scoffed at the memory of a male financier who instructed her to change the ending of her story. Holding steadfast, she made her film her way, starred in it as no one else knew the role better than she, and produced it as well. Jordan was also adamant about having a woman director, but struggled with finding one. Her original director had to withdraw unexpectedly, close to the filming date, and being on a strict timeline, the search was on. She shared, “It was easy to find male directors who were available and wanted to do it, but it was really important for me to have a female director” and with a little luck, she found Maria Burton.
Jordan’s passion for supporting women in this competitive industry was immediately evident as she compared the statistics of female directors, DPs and editors with males. But she is encouraged by the evident progress in this area. “More doors are opening or rather, we are all banding together and forcing our way in so we can no longer be ignored!” Jordan referenced Kathryn Bigelow’s accomplishments and the increase in female leads. “It was really important to me to work with as many women as possible and we did have a predominantly female crew. This was a female-driven story with a female protagonist and a female writer/producer so it made sense to have a female director, DP, editor...and as many more females on the set as we could!
For the Love of George opens in theaters in the U.S. on February 13, 2018. While Mr. Clooney has not yet reached out to Jordan, she laughed, “I have kind of turned into Poppy in my attempt to get him more involved with the film. We have been working alongside Casamigos (his tequila company) and Enough Project...” Who knows? Perhaps he will be at the premiere!
© Pamela Powell (11/16/17) FF2 Media
Photos: Nadia Jordan & Petra Bryant, Henry Hereford and Nadia Jordan