Director Biography – Nicole Russin-McFarland
A quirky, sweet former New York agency model harnessing the power of the Internet into a personal brand as a credible film score composer and film score composer reads like a Wes Anderson movie plot. In a career twist impossible before the millennial era, Nicole Russin-McFarland made a name for herself turning online views of her films and her social media presence into recognition for her filmmaking and film music.
Born on June 26, 1987 in Chicago, Illinois, Russin was once an 11-year old music student pretending to write the scores for movies she directed, inspired by the success stories of Hans Zimmer and James Horner. A lifelong admirer of kawaii Japanese works, blockbuster action movies, science fiction flicks, Pedro Almodóvar films, and Disney movies, Russin knew she wanted to be a movie director when, gifted with the DVD at 13, she fell in love with the Ridley Scott epic, “Gladiator.” After watching the first “Lord of the Rings” installment at the cinema when she was 14, Russin was inspired by Peter Jackson’s breakthrough as a first time blockbuster director having the most successful film in the world.
When she was 15, Russin started attending red carpet events like the VMAs, pressuring herself to never give up on her dreams because she was meeting and seeing people whose entertainment careers she envied. She left high school in the second month of her sophomore year, opting for distance and in person community college classes to graduate early from high school at 16, and, after transferring, from the University of Texas at 19. She was signed to her first modeling agency in Manhattan at 21, with modeling credits including Pepsi, Redken, and Laura Mercier. During this time period, Russin began writing for high profile media publications starting with The New York Daily News, where she was the newspaper’s youngest freelancer. Her writing with a focus on celebrity interviews and Hollywood has appeared in Variety, Paper Magazine, a former ELLE Spain blog, GQ India, Men’s Health, and other magazines.
Russin’s early attempts of transitioning into a career in film and film music were met with failure: having her original film music theme for a director stolen by him and recreated by a more experienced composer after graduating from college, unsuccessful acting auditions in her early 20’s when sent out by her modeling agencies or tipped off about auditions by actors, and rejection applying for any film industry entry level jobs. To carve a career path on a road almost exclusively taken by men before her, Russin had to make her own movies, hiring herself as a film score composer. In 2015, with a plan for her first cartoon, she began the process of learning how to animate herself through trial and error. She worked on several animated films at once until she saw improvements that matched her creative vision.
Russin’s first animated short film, “Pizza Delivery,” was released on Amazon Prime in July 2018. In December, she began publishing her films on Amazon Prime and YouTube simultaneously. The decision proved wise when her second short film, “O Girl of a Dream: A Beauty and the Beast Tale,” inspired by poet Carl Sandburg’s “A Dream Girl,” garnered more notice on YouTube than on a mainstream streaming service. In 2019, Russin continued releasing short films including her first ever live action short filmed in the UK, “The Mystery Dating App,” and the animation-live action film, “Martians Take Belfast!” She began studying special effects classes via the Stan Winston School to prepare herself for a future directing studio films.
Her first feature film, the entirely self animated “The Homework’s Revenge: Esther in Wonderland,” was released in November 2021.