March 2006 | Nick Weiss '00

Nick Weiss '00 (Writer & Director)

By Dominique Kalil '00

I have wanted to interview Nick Weiss '00 forever. Not because I knew anything about him, but because his name kept popping up in different conversations all the time. And so, when I got to choose my next subject, I picked him. Fortunately, getting to know him further definitely measured up to my expectations.

Nick is articulate, interesting and totally passionate about what he does. He grew up outside of Philadelphia before making his way to Harvard. During his first semester he ended up taking an unexpected leave of absence, which in retrospect profoundly shifted or rather clarified his perspective on what he wanted to do in life. I think most people have a pivotal event or year in their lives, but most of us realize it only years later or maybe never realize it at all. For Nick it came at nineteen, living in New Jersey with an old lady and her dog, transcribing CEO interviews to make ends meet. The opportunity to live outside of structured regiment of Harvard, finally allowed Nick the freedom to explore aspects of his personality that we more creative. He was really fortunate to see the benefit in a change of environment and he returned to Harvard a new man. He changed to a special concentration of media studies that involved music, VES and computer science. He took another year off (perhaps seeking to re-achieve the Nirvana of the first leave of absence?) after his junior year and worked on his creativity.

There is a definite side to Nick that’s intrigued by the metaphysical and the seeming ability of film or rather the filmmaker to somehow control the direction of entropy. For his senior project he made “What Now?” in which two characters face each other but travel in opposite temporal directions. It won Best Student Experimental in the New England Film and Video Festival. Nick admits that he was not concerned with the narrative in this film, but rather with concepts that provoke the viewer. However, as with all fledglings these concepts proved only to be the stepping stone to imminent development. When Nick used the characters in “What Now?” to delineate these particular striking concepts, he realized that as the viewer, one cannot help but be drawn into the characters and their accompanying struggles. According to Nick, it is from this process that a narrative essentially develops and therefore cannot be ignored by the filmmaker.

Facts like this seem superfluous, but to me they add to the bigger picture; they help one see personal motivations and caveats that characterize one’s professional progression. In 2003, after an appetizing expedition to Whole Foods, Nick started working on “Free Samples” a silent film about a homeless man living off the free samples in a grocery store (hmmm, surprisingly similar to my current existence!) Nick worked really hard on the film, doing most of it by himself, finding it to be a lonely and unenviable process. I can’t get an accurate read on how Nick views “Free Samples.” For sure it’s his inaugural baby, but there is a distinct air of ambiguity. We talked a bit about affirmation, and how as Harvard grads most of us grew up with a staple diet of public affirmation and positive reinforcement. It only makes sense then when we are out on our own to crave that affirmation, not because its necessary, but simply because its comfortable and familiar.

Today, Nick is thriving, living in Los Angeles, as he works on 4 short films, and collaborates with different writers from different genres with his producing partner Deirdre Owen (Class of 2000) at Pigment Pictures. Check out his website at

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