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Government of New Brunswick

Gia Milani

Photo: Denis Duquette

A writer, director and producer, Gia Milani’s work has been celebrated from coast to coast. Her feature film All the Wrong Reasons premiered as an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Gia won the Discovery Prize. The dramatic comedy film additionally won the Script Accessible Award at Slamdance and the Viewer's Choice Award at the Silver Wave Film Festival. After her feature win at TIFF Gia was named one of Canada’s top film Talents to Watch. Gia was awarded a prestigious “A Grant” from ArtsNB for writing and directing her newest experimental comedy film, At the Back, which premiered at the Atlantic Film Festival’s Gala and was picked up by CBC Gem.

Gia was selected to participate Women in the Director’s Chair Career Advancement Module and the NSI’s Business for Producers, Atlantic Women’s Edition. In 2021, Gia was honoured with a Wave Award, and in 2018 with a Salute to a Woman Working in Entertainment in New Brunswick Award, both from WIFT-Atlantic. Gia was a Writer’s Guild of Canada National Writer’s Forum Delegate (elected) Representing New Brunswick for 2015 and 2016 and is a DGC member in the Director’s Division and is a former board member of the NB Producers Association (renamed MediaNB).

Gia is a member of the New Brunswick Filmmakers' Co-operative.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I think inspiration is everywhere. The news inspires me. What social issues are pressing and left unresolved. I am inspired by the visual arts, painters, immersion installations, ceramics, glasswork, and sculpture. I am inspired by sound. In another life I would be a foley artist. I am a curious person and I’m interested in people, and how they make their decisions, and what drives them. I get inspired by reading really fantastic comedic writing. I am inspired by Zoomers, who I think are an outstanding generation. I am almost overwhelmed with inspiration. There are billions of stories.

What drew you to working in the film industry? Describe how you were inspired to explore film.

Sounds cliché but it’s been a lifelong love. When I graduated high school my class ring was adorned with the theatre masks of Comedy and Tragedy. Originally, I wanted to act, but in my early 30s I realized that creating the work as a whole (writing, directing and producing) let me better do everything I wanted to do creatively. I also have a real vision of what I want something to be, so being the creator served those visions.

What do you enjoy most about creating films?

The process. I circle an idea for a long time, poking it to see if there is something there, and that it is not just an interesting scene that is legless. I love the collaboration, dissecting characters with another creator is about the best thing to do on earth. I love sitting with actors and listening to their process of bringing life and truth into work. I love seeing the dailies (what we shot during the day) at the end of a day and watching what the cast and crew pulled off. I love editing, and being cutthroat about trimming out a single frame where a slight tilt of an actor’s head can change the meaning of a scene. And I love watching an audience’s reaction. To see if what I what I was hoping to make them feel was successful. There are so many things to love.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist living in New Brunswick?

There is a grassroots community spirit here that at its base is a love of filmmaking. You don’t feel like an invisible corporate number. You can feel human here. Also access to funding partners in provincial government. They are open and available to meet and answer questions. They’re actual partners and help find solutions instead of tossing more problems into a mix. But I am not going to sugarcoat living here. Sometimes being an artist here is great, but being an artist here has limitations because of population size and accessibility to experience, crews and unions. You need to be okay with the balance. It can be very difficult.

Describe what you are most proud of as an artist?

Perseverance and being tenacious, in an industry as harsh and unforgiving as this one is, what I am proud of. And also, sometimes, letting go. It’s tough to let go of a project because of lack of funding or support and then being able to pick up and forge ahead. I’m proud of being able to do that, and proud of others in my field when I see what they go through to get their stories on screen.

Who is your favourite film producer and why?

I don’t have one. I am more inclined to have favorite writers. Nothing happens without great writing. A producer is useless without a great script. An actor is the same. The director is the same. If it isn’t on the page, it doesn’t work. Currently my favorite writers are Craig Mazin (The Last of Us and Chernobyl) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag / Killing Eve), but they change all the time.

What advice would you give to young, emerging artists in the film industry?

This is not normal career. There isn’t a meritocracy here. It is a mistake to think you will make a successful film and then you have it made. You are forever chasing, forever proving, forever searching for funding, forever networking, forever creating, dealing with new federal and provincial rules, international rules, up against a behemoth that is the US, executive turnover, and egos. There is no safety. You freefall, land for a while then jump again. You must be comfortable with incredible risk, being vulnerable, able to process criticism, withstand an enormous amount of rejection (even superstars are rejected over and over even at their height of fame, remember that). So, make a core group of reliable filmmaker friends who are the same age as you and want this as a lifelong gig. Keep up to speed on the ever-changing funding rules. And do other things to avoid burnout. It is often a 7 day a week job. Keep healthy. Have hobbies and interests outside of this work. And stay curious.

Where can people connect with you?

Love NB arts and culture? Share your favourites. #inspiredbyNB