I had this article on hold for some weeks now, some vicissitudes have slowed down my researches and disclosure activity but I am back and so are the incredible stories of people who are making the difference.
I was watching “The Greatest Showman” last night and the closing sentence just hit me as a revelation – I could not have used best words to describe what I want to do and what the people I interview and get in touch with, do, everyday
For those who have not watched the movie or read anything about Mr P.T. BARNUM this is the quote: “The noblest art is thatof making others happy”.
And Mr Nic Novicki is one of these happyness-maker artists, to me.
Before the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge and after, when it was over, Nic has always showed so much dedication and availability in sharing advice and making sure that everything was running smoothly during the Festival and everybody had the same information and opportunities. I produced The Focus Group, remember? I am literally one those who make organizers crazy with tons of questions and doubts.
[And still he had wonderful words for me]
His kindness is extreme and we also had the chance to share some styling tips on special occasions.
For those who still do not know “the right words”, I also asked him advice on proper language when talking about dwarfism: Nic is a little person and this is the exact expression to use in English.
Unfortunately we do not have an equivalent in Italian (and translating dwarfism with nanismo is not really proper), do you, in your own language?
While thinking about it please enjoy this fun and unveiling interview with friend Nic Novicki from Los Angeles!
WHO IS NIC NOVICKI?
I’m an actor, comedian, producer and the founder and director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. I also happen to be a little person who is happily married, with a beautiful one month old daughter and a French, French bulldog named Rosie.
Portrait of Nic Novicki, white man with short curly blonde hair, smiling at the camera wearing black suit, white shirt and black tie.
HOW DID THE IDEA OF A DISABILITY FILM CHALLENGE COME TO YOUR MIND?
I have been an actor and comedian for close to 20 years. I learned early in my career, that as a little person actor, I needed to be involved in creating my own work. I’ve been very blessed in that I’ve been in over 40 TV shows and movies including Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, The Good Doctor, Loudermilk etc. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented artists and legendary directors and producers including Martin Scorsese and the Farrelly brothers. The majority of my work has come from producing and creating my own projects.
In 2013 I looked around and wondered why more people with disabilities weren’t creating their own projects. As people with disabilities, we are the largest minority population in the world; roughly 1 out of four people have some form of disability. Yet we are also the most underrepresented.
I decided to take action by creating the Disability Film Challenge; a weekend film competition where each film has to have somebody with a disability in front of or behind the camera. In 2017 I partnered with Easterseals Southern California, the largest disability services organization in America and we are now the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. To date, we have had hundreds of films made from around the world.
WHY… A CHALLENGE AND NOT A LONGER FESTIVAL?
The reason I created the film challenge was, it gives people with and without disabilities an opportunity to not just talk about the lack of inclusion but to take charge in creating opportunities for themselves. I have found that most artists struggle with deadlines and with procrastinating when it comes to producing their own content. The film challenge is a great motivator for people to be creative in a short time frame and for them to embrace their network, to help market their films.
Nic Novicki, in the centre of the scene during film production with his production team. He is a little person and is wearing a light blue shirt. He is talking to a taller man on his left
WHAT POSITIVE IMPACTS DID YOU SEE IN THE MARKET AFTER YOU LAUNCHED THE FILM CHALLENGE?
I want to point out that there are many people doing great work, and people that have been creating opportunities for a long time, for people with disabilities. With that being said it has truly been an honor to see so many success stories that have come out, of the film challenge.
Our films have been used by the entertainment industry as a resource. When casting directors are looking for actors they are able to see our films, which feature actors with disabilities portraying characters in three dimensional roles. Producers, networks and studios have also had a chance to see the great work of our film challenge participants that work as writers, directors, producers, composers, editors etc.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR GREATEST SUCCESS AND WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED SINCE YOU STARTED?
I would say our greatest success is the impact the film challenge has had on our film challenge participants’ lives. It’s led to TV shows, feature films as well as fellowships, grants and screenings at film festivals all over the world. It’s also given many of our participants and their families confidence in themselves and their talent.
As far as challenges, the word challenge is in the title of what we do. Haha.
It is very difficult to make a film in a short time period. As we have grown, the competition has gotten really tough, so there’s only a certain amount of films that will be listed as finalists or winners.
I am not a judge, but it is still challenging when there are so many great films and only some can be recognized as winners. With that being said, many films that were not listed as finalists or winners have gone on to screen, at countless festivals around the world, and have led to some of our biggest success stories.
HOW ARE THE WINNING FILMS CHOSEN? WHO IS PART OF THE COMMITTEE AND WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE WINNERS?
We have an amazing group of film challenge judges .
Our jury includes some of the biggest actors, writers, directors, producers, film critics and executives in the entertainment industry. We have judges with and without disabilities which is important. As far as the future for our winners, we have been so honored to see so many success stories for our winners and all our participants as you can see from here.
NOW…FASHION: WHAT IS YOUR STYLE AND WHAT ARE THE BRANDS THAT MOST REPRESENT YOU?
To be honest I am somewhat new to fashion. I’ve relied on costume designers for projects I’ve worked on and mostly on my smart, amazing wife who has better taste than me. As far as the style that I like, I am a fan of the classic style of white shirt, black suit and skinny black tie. I remember watching the movie Reservoir Dogs as a kid and thinking that outfit was so cool. I was also very lucky when I acted on the TV show “The Sopranos”: the costume department custom fitted an Armani suit for me. That suit was made for me over 15 years ago and I still wear it all the time! I love wearing suits!
IF ANY, WHAT ARE THE DIFFICULTIES YOU ENCOUNTER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR OUTFITS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE OR SPECIAL OCCASIONS LIKE THE EDFC CEREMONY?
As far as difficulties wearing clothes in everyday life and for special events like our awards ceremony as a little person, it can be difficult to find clothes that fit me. When I was lucky enough to get a custom fit Armani suit for “The Sopranos” I was also lucky enough to have amazing tailors work on my suit. It took four separate fittings and numerous alterations for that suit to fit me correctly. I was lucky to have the production pay for this but this process can be expensive. I also have extremely wide feet that need special orthotics. I need to wear a 2 1/2 extra wide high top which can be difficult to find and extremely difficult to match suits.
Nic, white man, little person, on stage during a speech. He is wearing a shirt with white and shades of blue pattern and black jeans.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE FOR THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
My message for the fashion industry is to continue to think about people with disabilities. We are an extremely large demographic and in many senses we have not been marketed to until very recently. We deserve to look cool and sexy and there is a market of people that would like to buy your clothes. When you are creating new lines, think about universal design. Also there are opportunities for you to create numerous sizes as opposed to just sizes that fall into standard sizing.
The film challenge has grown a lot recently and we hope to continue to see growth and jobs for our participants both in front of and behind the camera. On a personal note I hope to continue to work as an actor, comedian and producer and once it’s safe, I look forward to taking a family trip! Maybe to Italy!