"Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw it, bury it, unearth it and gnaw it still."
- Philosopher Henry David Thoreau
She was good at her job. No, not just good. Outstanding. She was energized, organized, and utterly fearless — exactly the right combo for the kind of work she was being asked to do. In the tight-knit Vancouver TV/film community of the late 1990's, she was considered a well-liked up-and-coming young assistant director.
And the money was so-o-o-o good. At first glance, it seemed that this was exactly what Angie Nolan had always aspired to. She was living the dream — she was a respected member of Hollywood North. All signs pointed upwards. Still, there were clouds on the horizon.
"I'm no strident feminist, you now." Angie laughs. "But being a woman in that world — it was really tough. Even today — there's not a lot of room at the top for females..." She shakes her head. Shrugs... almost in apology for bringing up the subject. Angie, you see, is a glass half-full kind of woman. She's not a whiner. Not a complainer. She just wants me to understand her state of mind in 1999.
And yes, there was more to it than sexual politics. Being a good AD means, essentially, being a good manager. And while it may require a certain amount of ingenuity to administer the disparate parts of the job, assistant directors rarely get much of a say in a film project's creative flow.
"With those AD jobs," Angie explains, "I really indulged the A-type part of my personality. But my creative side was screaming for an outlet." She sighs. "I was going for the money and the power and the prestige. It was all good, you know, but I realized that something was missing..."
No matter. Life was moving fast. No time for reflection. No time for self-doubt. All systems go.
Then the unthinkable happened. "We'd just finished shooting a film," she begins, "and we were headed to the wrap party..." While crossing the intersection at Vancouver's 12th and Granville, the car she was riding in was hit broadside by another vehicle. In that one crushing moment, Angie's life changed forever.
Months of rehabilitation; interminable struggles with the medical/insurance bureaucracy; and growing financial issues — her new situation was a severe comedown for the 29-year-old film pro.
"It's such a challenge to realize you can't physically do what you want to do anymore," she says. "I had to learn how to move my body all over again. I suffered constant blackouts..." She laughs darkly. "And even when I started getting better and things would release — that's when I'd realize how much another part of my body was hurting."