Nicole Coady is a mom and successful screenwriter. She has a degree in film, worked for CAA in Hollywood, and has been a part of some of the Bratz TV shows as a writer.
Her next new project, The Adventures of Snow White and Rose Red, was generated from her desire for family-friendly content that would also be entertaining for adults. Fans of fairy tales, princesses, and entertaining storytelling will surely love this show! Aimed at ages 3-9, the fantasy show is set to premiere on Amazon on June 15th.
The show follows two sisters who live in a cottage in the woods. They love frolicking through the forest and reading stories from their book of fairytales. Suddenly, they begin to meet all of the characters from their storybooks including Alice (from Wonderland) and Cinderella. How? Magic, of course!
Coady had a long career in Hollywood before she put all of that aside when her daughter was born. She decided to become a stay at home mom and moved to upstate New York. It was certainly a change, but it wasn't the end of her career.
As a mom, Coady was dissatisfied by the TV choices available for her daughter. But instead of watching Cailou for the umpteenth time, or having to monitor some of the surprisingly inappropriate kids shows around, Coady decided to make her own show. Her goal was to create a show that taught good morals, friendship, but would still tell a great story really well so parents could enjoy too.
Combining her love of fairy tales with her film background, Coady formed a small production company called Trident Fantasy Films in New York with Katie Spass and Andrew Farnan Balog. Shortly after, she pitched her dream kids' show idea to her partners who loved it. The rest has been a somewhat of a fairytale. Well, not really, but the new show's first season puts a new spin on the classic stories we all know and love. Amazon picked up the series
We talked to Nicole Coady about her new show, her inspirations, and why The Adventures of Snow White and Rose Red will be a new obsession for kids that is the perfect combination of fun, adventure, and friendship. great for summer! The best thing about the show is that it is truly an innovative, simple show that was created the way Coady wanted it to be: with little outside influence. She wanted her show to get back to the roots of storytelling.
Here's what she had to say:
BabyGaga (BG): What can you say about your new show?
Nicole Coady (NC): The Adventures of Snow White & Rose Red is a live action, children's fairy tale show with a sweet, heart-centered message of kindness and doing good in the world. Our two main characters have lots of fun adventures in the woods with their various fairytale friends, such as Cinderella, Little Red, and Alice In Wonderland, and they learn a valuable less, or moral, from each friend they meet that they share about around the family hearth at the end of each episode.
BG: Where did this idea of a show about fairy tales come from? How did you come up with the story?
NC: I have always loved fairy tales. My mother read them to me every night as a child and I had a few big, beautiful fairy tale books that I remember sitting with and just looking at all the wonderful pictures for hours.
When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I had a friend who also loved fairy tales and we used to play a pretend game, where I was Snow White and she was Rose Red. We had a great time! Later, at Vassar, I took a class in fairy tale literature that changed my life. It gave me an understanding of the depth of these ancient tales. I learned about their mythological roots, the meaning of many of the prevalent symbols and what they meant to psychologists like Freud and Jung and how they worked on our unconscious minds - it was fascinating! Working with stories on this level can be wonderfully healing, inspiring and a great way to learn how to overcome challenges in the real world - all just through experiencing the stories and symbols.
Flash forward to me becoming a mother. I chose to leave my screenwriting career in Hollywood and moved to upstate NY to be a stay at home mom to my little girl. One of the great gifts of doing that was I had a lot of time to read the fairy tales I loved so much to her, and we also discovered new ones together and my appreciation for these tales only increased. When my daughter got older, I got a major itch to jump back into the world of TV and film. I literally have to write stories, or I go a little nuts, and I was excited about the idea of producing and directing my stories. At Vassar I had been a film major and had the training to direct, but even though I did well as a screenwriter in Hollywood, I never got the opportunity to direct my own work. Now, with my passion for fairy tales reignited, and living in beautiful upstate New York, which has an abundance of magical forest, lakes and wild gardens, I began to see that I could really make a show like Snow & Rose happen! At this time, I met Andrew and Katie, and we formed our production company, Trident Fantasy Films together. I pitched them the idea and they loved it. They were on the brink of getting married and starting their own little family and so the idea of creating a show for children really appealed to them too.
Another thing that really made me want to create Snow & Rose, was that I had spent those years at home with my daughter and I knew how few TV shows I really felt okay with her watching. So many were snarky, sarcastic, or inappropriate for young girls and boys and we had a long list of banned TV shows in our house. I thought, if we could just make a show that was sweet and heart-centered, where there was a little lesson or moral given at the end of each episode, that would be a lovely thing for the children of the world. We also took great care to keep the editing pace slow and not to make the episodes too scary. We always asked ourselves when we were writing the scripts, "How would the most sensitive 4 year old we know handle this scene?" I also am passionate about reading and I want to inspire kids to read if they are old enough to, or ask their parents to read to them if they're too little to read to themselves. Reading builds empathy and fires our imagination - I can think of no greater gift to give children than a love for reading, so our Snow White always begins each episode by reading one of the original Grimm's fairy tales out loud out of her own beautiful book.
BG: Did you already have a TV background to better execute the series? Have you worked on other TV shows?
NC: I have my degree in film and my background is primarily as a screenwriter for films, but I have worked on several of the Bratz choose your own adventure style video games/films as well. I also worked on a television lit desk at CAA as my first job in Hollywood, but generally, TV has been a new and very exciting adventure for me. I think so many filmmakers are making the transition to television now, the lines have become really blurred.
BG: How long has it taken to have this idea written on paper to the actual execution? Was the process fairly easy or difficult?
NC: I had had the idea rolling around in the back of my mind for about a year, but once Andrew and Katie signed on, we were all so excited to get this show into production things happened really quickly! We gave it the green light in February and we had our staff writers hired on and scripts finished by March or April - it's all kind of a blur. One thing I'm really proud of is that we have an all-female writing staff - which is very rare in both TV and film - and we did this before the #METOO movement. It just seemed like a natural fit to have a group of young ladies write a show that centers around two sisters and fairy tales.
BG: Two real-life sisters (Callista and Demetria Zorbas) play the main sisters in the show. Did you purposely set out to cast an actual pair of sisters? Do you think that makes the story more authentic? Why were the Zorbas sisters chosen? How did they stand out?
NC: This show has had a good fairy watching over it from day one, and our first bit of magic was finding Callista and Demetra! I teach a filmmaking class at Skidmore College and one of my students, Alix, was making a film and at her casting session, in walked Callista and Demetra. There was no role for them, but Alix and I just looked at each other and decided we need to cast them anyway - there was something really special about them. They played super small roles in that student film but I could see the camera really loved them. When it came time to cast for Snow & Rose, I immediately thought of them. They came and auditioned for Andrew, Katie and I and it was unanimous - we just couldn't imagine anyone else playing those roles. They are sisters, they're homeschooled and have a cottage in the woods in real life where they forage for herbs and flowers and make teas out of them, they are truly sweet, sweet girls - there's just something so magical about them. They have that star quality that you just can't teach and they have been an absolute joy to work with.
BG: Were there any other shows, movies, or books from the past that have been an inspiration to you while making or developing The Adventures of Snow White and Rose Red?
NC: Wow, pretty much every fairy tale I've ever read, some Merchant Ivory films, like Room With A View in terms of the look. I'm also obsessed with fairy tale fashion and the work of photographers like Bella Kota, and one of my favorite films, the French Belle Et La Bête by Jean Cocteau and, of course, one can't help but be inspired by the sun drenched fields and tangled forests of upstate New York. The natural beauty here is truly awe inspiring and an amazing place to film. The stories in the show themselves all come faithfully out of the original Grimm’s books, except for Alice In Wonderland, of course. I felt really strongly about using the original texts to work from because I have a fear that we are losing our folklore and I want to help preserve it. Disney's Little Mermaid is amazing, and I know every song by heart, but it's nothing like the original Hans Christian Anderson story - I want to keep the original tales alive!
BG: The show is for kids, therefore, features many child actors. Have there been any unique challenges having such a young cast? Has it been more or less difficult working with more children versus adults?
NC: It has been amazing and super fun working with children! I truly love kids and they bring such energy and enthusiasm to their roles. I can honestly say we've had zero problems with our child actors. They all took the show very seriously and worked really hard to show up and be professional. As a mom, I'm also just used to being with kids and most of our directors are also moms, so we all just kind of already knew how to handle children and it worked out beautifully.
BG: Which other fairytale characters will we see make an appearance throughout the series? Who are your favorites you want to include in the show? Who will we never see on the show?
NC: In our first season, you will meet everyone from Cinderella and her Prince to Little Red Riding hood, Alice In Wonderland and her crew, Rapunzel and our very own Fairy Queen. There are soooo many more characters I'm excited to include in future seasons - it's really endless the possibilities! I’m working on a feature film of The Twelve Dancing Princesses as well, so maybe they might cross paths with Snow & Rose in the future! One thing you'll never see are sarcastic, snarky, or really mean characters - kids already get exposed to enough of that in real life and we want to model a better way to behave!
BG: Will parents be able to enjoy this show too? What will make it appealing to different ages?
NC: I know when my daughter was younger, like it or not, I was going to end up having to at least hear the shows she was watching in the background, and often I did watch the shows with her, so it really mattered to me that parents would like the show too. I think what parents like about the show most of all, is it's visually quite lovely and the storylines are simple but fun, with characters we all know and love. Parents also like the morals or lessons that are taught by each episode, so its not just mindless TV but there is a true desire to teach kids how to be great little citizens in the world. In terms of age, we've seen very young children, like three-year-olds, get really excited about it but 9 and 10-year-olds enjoy it too. I'd say we probably lose kids once they hit the tween to teen years.
BG: You film locally in Saratoga Springs, NY. How has the town reacted to the filming? How did you utilize the city in the filming? Has this kept thing more “normal” for the child actors? Would you ever consider moving production?
NC: I really cannot talk enough about my level of gratitude to Saratoga, and the surrounding areas and the way the people here have embraced this show! We literally could not have made Snow & Rose without people opening their properties to us to film in, the hard work so many local people did on the show, Skidmore College gave us a free production office and allowed us to film in their beautiful gardens, the National Museum of Dance let us do fundraising screenings in their wonderful theater - the list really goes on and on! We are definitely here to stay! In terms of keeping things normal for everyone while filming, we worked hard, but we kept the shooting hours much more reasonable that a Hollywood production and all the kids went home to their own beds at night, and we on the crew went home to our own families and children too - family is really important to all of us and we took that into consideration when we planned our production schedule.
BG: The show takes place in fairy tale times. How did you find costumes for these characters?
NC: I had this image in my mind of exactly how I wanted everyone to look because I love fairy tale fashion and costumes are one of the most enjoyable parts for me. We had a great costume designer come aboard and I worked in a very hands-on way with her to get the look I wanted. Katie, one of my Trident producing partners, is also a skilled seamstress and together we brainstormed exactly what we wanted Snow & Rose's costumes to look like. We had the most fun with our Rapunzel dress, which has a massive pink tulle train with blue flowers sown into it. I had this vision of Rapunzel sitting in a tree with her loooonnng skirt trailing down almost to the ground. I get these images in my mind and then the stories and the costumes all have to work around that sometimes.
BG: How many people have made this show a possibility for audiences? Who made this all possible?
NC: For our direct cast and crew, we had about 60 people working on the show, but so many more have supported our series in other ways and we couldn’t have brought these stories to life without each and every one of them! Andrew, Katie and I wanted to do the show the way we wanted to do it and maintain ownership of it. So we self-funded on very, very little money. We brought on three additional producers, Ann Marie Lizzi, Michalina Srorzelli and Thomas Padovan who were all invaluable in their own way. This was a labor of love built by many, many loving hands, hearts and minds.
BG: What are your hopes and goals for the series? If successful, do you have a long series planned? Or one that’s just long enough to tell the whole story?
NC: Wow, to build our own little mini Disney style empire! We think there is a tremendous market for what we're creating and we're excited to see what we can do. I can see many seasons of this series happening, because the possibilities provided by the rich source material of fairy tale is so endless, and I can't wait to hear from fans of the show what characters they would like to see in upcoming seasons. I have a lot more stories to tell - as far as I'm concerned, I'm only just getting started!
We would love to again extend our thanks to Nicole for talking with us about her project, and we cannot wait to watch this series once is drops on Amazon!