When Mirella Christou sat down to write the feature film script for “Lady Electric”, she sought to draw inspiration from a wonderfully deep library of art house and foreign favorites including Ingmar Bergman, Pedro Almodovar, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, among others. Her keen attention was certainly rewarded, seeing as her screenplay is touted as one of the best unproduced scripts in the country.
The Canadian Film Festival in conjunction with the Harold Greenberg Fund recently championed the script by placing it on the 2018 “It List,” considered a great resource for producers to access the top trove of scripts.
“These works that I drew inspiration from excel at psychological character study,” said Christou. Her aim is for “Lady Electic” is to attract the type of collaborators who can infuse the piece with that timeless element. The plot centers around a prodigious young musician, Rose, who has lost her hearing. Rose encounters an unlikely mentor – a frontwoman who had dropped out of the scene in the 1960s. The film is a not-so-secret tribute to the underappreciated women of rock ‘n roll.
Additionally, the short film version Christou produced, wrote and directed has been invited to screen as part of The Cannes Film Festival in the Festival Corner, and had already scooped up a number of awards at festivals around the globe. The short film was created by a tightly-knit group of talented women, helmed by Christou. During a time when representation in front and behind the camera has become a pivotal issue, it feels particularly of-the-moment.
The film is a deeply rooted in an inquiry of what it means to have a gift, lose it, and the fraught repercussions of that. The Canadian Film Festival jury denoted that the script was led by great characters that brought vitality to a well-structured tale.
In addition to the newfound success the piece has found, it’s not the only project on the docket. Her television project titled “Seven Eternities,” is a period piece that concerns the early days of psychedelic research and centers around Timothy Leary and the colorful figures in his circle. The script was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for writing, a rare distinction. The prize is awarded each year to a film or a piece of writing that focuses on science and technology, or highlights the life of a scientist. In previous years, Academy-award winning The Imitation Game as well as Hidden Figures have been selected for the Sloan Prize.
“I consulted scientists, and innumerable books, which is wonderful because my favorite stories to tell do an interesting dance between fact and fiction,” said Christou. It’s a subject that is exceedingly relevant to today as it brings up issues of censorship to contemporary scientists who are facing challenges when it comes to researching these substances and the potential to probe into the essential nature of the mind. It too is deeply psychological.
Featuring characters such as Aldous and Laura Huxley, Richard Alpert, and Allen Ginsberg, it’s the tip of the iceberg for a fascinating and polarizing perspective into the world of these characters at the bleeding edge of the infamous psychedelic era. The script was introduced to the public at a live staged reading hosted by the L.A.-based company Scriptd, with much industry interest, featuring actors from popular television, film and Broadway shows.
With a previous life as a journalist, Christou is aware of her own tendency toward stories that contain an angle of investigation. “For possibly obvious reasons, there tends to be a character that shows up in my work that probe or asks questions and sniff around a little too close for comfort.” She is well acquainted with newsrooms after spending a number of years as a newspaper and newswire reporter as well as a television news producer at the top networks in Canada (CTV News Channel and BNN). Specifically, she had a front-row seat during the massive 2008 financial crisis. If anything, working in these environments got her writing and producing work seen by audiences on a daily basis across the country. “The leap didn’t feel so drastic between journalism and what I am doing now. One neatly informs the other – it’s storytelling, after all.”
Mirella Christou received her MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She’s originally from Toronto, Canada and writes screenplays, teleplays, and stageplays.