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Interview – Jake Nielsen – ‘On Hold’ – A Short Film


Posted November 19, 2018 by

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Interview – Jake Nielsen – ‘On Hold’ – A Short Film

Director Jake Nielsen’s On Hold tackles the subject of following your dreams and won an Oscar qualifying award at the very first festival it entered. The film stars Madeline Jones (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Jo Turner (All Saints).

A short film-musical about the choice between following your dreams, and making next week’s rent.

Jake Nielsen is a Composer, Writer and Director for stage and screen. His debut musical, The Atheist’s Guide to the Galaxy, with co-writer Matthew Predny, won the Audience Choice at the Sydney Fringe Festival (2012). His musical short film Did I Tell You ‘Bout Jasper? won the Audience Choice at the World of Women’s Cinema Festival (2015) and was an official selection at the Byron Bay International Film Festival, where he was nominated for ‘Young Australian Film- Maker of the Year’ (2015). Jake co-wrote and directed the short film musical On Hold.

The film also stars Ali Aitken (Macbeth), Julian Ramundi (Much Ado About Nothing), Josephine Starte (Trade), Madeline Clouston (The Atheist’s Guide to the Galaxy), Sean Perez (Rake) and Veronica Clavijo.

The beautiful cinematography was created by Jack McAvoy, the music was composed by Jake Nielsen and Matt Predney, who also was the films musical director. The film was co-produced by Alicia Easaw-Mamutil, Tom Montefiore and Grace Rein.

This magical film won the won the Academy® Accredited Virgin Australia Award for Best Australian Short Film at Flickerfest and was a finalist in the Dendy awards at the Sydney Film Festival.

Interview – Jake Nielsen - ‘On Hold’


To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘On Hold’…

On Hold is a musical that follows Gabby, a low-level call centre employee who wants to be composer. It’s about the difficulty of following the path you want in a world that’s designed to ease you into giving up. It’s about the post university slump where you realise you aren’t special and life is much more confusing than you’d thought…Except it also has a catchy song and dance numbers.

Where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

I wrote the film when I was working at a particularly hellish call centre for a predatory lender. It was originally so I could find an outlet for all the things I hated about the place. Every time something enraging or ridiculous happened, I’d go home and write it up in some way. Eventually I started to like what I’d done and so I worked into a larger musical.

Tell us about the cast, who is starring?

Our protagonist Gabby is played by Madeleine Jones.  She’s an Australian Musical theatre and film performer who volunteered her services (it was a super low budget so the whole cast and crew did also) We got extremely lucky and grabbed a rising star about one millisecond before she would have been way too busy for us. She’s currently staring in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in Australia.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

I love golden age musicals in terms of aesthetics’ (and content obviously) but as a young filmmaker my influences were always darker. The films of Alfred Hitchcock were what made me fall in love with cinema and realise how powerful it is.

Where there any significant issues throughout the films production? How did you overcome these difficulties?

We made what was essentially a $250,000 film for $16,000 so there were so many hundreds of issues. But ultimately we always got through in the end (often by the skin of our teeth) by having incredible producers. Ultimately I think clarity of vision inspires everyone to work a little harder and put up with a little more.

What advice would you give any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

I would still consider myself an up-and-comer despite the success of the film so maybe…. Everything happens slower than you want it to and you might want to get used to being poor for a long time. But if you’re still okay with that, then just keep writing/shooting etc.

When and where can we expect to see ‘On Hold’?

We have another 6 months or so of our festival run. So unless we have some massive Oscars win (potential voters I’m talking to you), then we should have the film online after the festival run. We are hoping to release a soundtrack in the few months.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

I am currently working on a stage musical called ‘Miss Westralia’ with Madeline Clouston (Sophie in On Hold). The showis about the very first winner of the Miss Australia competition. It will be in Perth next year for a 4-week season and we are planning on touring it the following year. We were in talks for a motion picture version but these things take time, and also take your exec not deciding to quit show business to run off and raise a family.


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Adam Snowden
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