Meet Chelsea Nwasike of CIN Pictures in Burbank

CIN Pictures in Burbank
Chelsea Nwasike

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Nwasike of CIN Pictures in Burbank

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story?

My story begins in a very pink room, where I was watching the 1959 series, The Twilight Zone, on VHS.

I was 6 or 7 at the time and I remember being so terrified but I just couldn’t stop watching. One minute I’m laughing, the next I’m crying- my emotions were all over the place depending on what episode I was watching, and I loved it.

I wanted to be able to do that to others as well. So I started writing stories, which I spiral-bound on an A4 paper and sold to my parent’s friends for the equivalent of 25 cents in Nigeria.

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I would watch them read ALL two pages of my “book”, waiting for that giggle or gasp. From a very young age, writing was my escape and I got to live vicariously through the characters I created.

Fast-forward years after- I’m in England for school, navigating my way through life. I started taking my interest in film a lot more seriously when I went to uni to study BA Media Production at Bournemouth University.

I first began my directorial journey where I shot a 35 minutes pilot for the series “Twisted”. Crew and cast size of over 50 people, major company moves, never produced a single film before and I was 19.

I basically, youtubed my way through the entire process and made many mistakes along the way. An experience that has been my biggest learning curve to date.

However, it wasn’t until I found myself working on Christopher Nolan’s three-time Academy Award-winning historical drama Dunkirk’s set that I truly got a clear picture of how phenomenal the art of movie-making really is.

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I got to see one of the industry’s renowned auteurs and one of my inspirations in the industry work first-hand from a distance.

I eventually chose to move to LA to get a master’s degree in Filmmaking. There I began expanding my knowledge and experience as a filmmaker- writing and directing films, some of which have been honored with awards at film festivals; including Best Female Director, Sound Designer and Sci-Fi for “Reaction”; and Best Original Story, Best Narrative Film, Best Thriller, Best Editing for “Written Words” plus a number of other recognitions.

In a nutshell, I’m someone who loves to paint emotions through storytelling, especially through visual storytelling.

Every art has a story to tell, and as an artist that’s something I am always intentional about when executing my work- as a Writer, Director, Editor, Designer, etc.

The learning never stops and I’m set to continue building my body of work as a writer-director, with a couple of new projects currently in the works.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?

It’s an uppercase NO for me. I feel like any journey or endeavor worth taking will always have obstacles and challenges and I’m learning to come to terms with that fact. I’m a big planner. I like to plan ahead.

I like to know how my now is going to affect my tomorrow, especially when it comes to my career. But with how volatile this industry is, you are forced to learn to just go with the flow.

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Besides the everyday challenges that hit you, being an immigrant comes with its own difficulty. You don’t get a head start in the country you’re in because you’re most times going to be the last option.

So I’ve had to do things ten times better to be seen or picked. Anything I wanted to pursue always felt harder or longer to achieve.

With regards to being a filmmaker, the industry doesn’t give you the room to focus on one project at a time so you’re juggling many different projects- all at different stages of production.

On the big scale, when you have projects to work on, you could struggle with different things such as balancing prepping various films simultaneously. On a smaller scale, no matter how much you prep for shoots, issues always arise on set.

I guess as a filmmaker, my biggest obstacle is trying to find the right resources, both in finance and collaborators, to turn a film idea into a tangible visual piece you’re proud to show the world.

On the flip side, such challenges can breed unexpected creativity, and I’m always excited to see how I can push myself creatively to craft the art I want to make.

At the end of the day, it’s all about our mindset. I’m still on my journey and it’s never really going to be smooth; I’ll still be disappointed when I don’t lock down that investor.

I’ll still be discouraged when my script isn’t picked, I’ll still have my therapeutic cries in the bathroom when I need to decompress, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you finally accomplish the things you worked hard to.

I think the most important thing to note is that my support system makes the obstacles I experience easier to face. By support system, I mean my Mum and Dad, my siblings, and my close friends.

Please tell us about CIN Pictures.
I’m a writer-director who collaborates with other filmmakers to make films. At CIN Pictures, we are currently working on two new film projects- one of which is an anthology series exploring social issues in the world today in the backdrop of horror and suspenseful thrillers- some of the episodes are inspired by Nigerian folklore.

And another, a feature titled Quincy – a story about a fourteen-year-old African American boy who struggles to hold his family together under the increasing pressure of an investigation when evidence of murder begins to point towards him.

We continue to look forward to collaborating with fellow filmmakers and actors as we develop these projects further.

Since we’re on the topic of businesses, I’ll like to throw in CNDesigns, a sister company to CIN Pictures. Here, I work with companies, mostly start-ups, to help paint their brand identity through design and creative direction.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
As a director, the one thing I found out after some experience directing films is learning about my creative voice, my theme.

I think even as a writer as well. So if I had to start over with what I know about myself as a writer-director, it would be trusting my voice a lot more because at the end of the day making a film is a form of art and art will always be subjective.

Additionally, I would have showcased my work/films to a lot more people than I did. I find myself always not satisfied with the work or film I’ve done.

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‘We could have found a better location’, ‘I could have directed that scene differently’, ‘I could have gotten that shot’, ‘I could have stayed on that moment longer.

If there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that I’m always going to see flaws in my work and I’m always going to think it could have been better.

That can be detrimental to your confidence as a filmmaker and lead you to hide your film from a potential opportunity.

As the genius, Michael Scott said, “‘you miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky”.


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