Interview with Network Member Monica Arsenault

I’m Monica Arsenault, the creator of Nun Habits. I am a writer, director, producer, and actress living in Brooklyn, NY. After attending SVA (the School of Visual Arts) for 2 years after high school, I decided to pursue acting again (a passion of mine growing up) and began full-time training at the Atlantic Theater Company. When I completed the 2.5 year program, I began making Nun Habits and from January to April of 2018, I wrote and filmed the project with the help of my incredible team. Nun Habits has gone through many versions, but the first cut was completed and submitted to festivals beginning in September 2018. While making Nun Habits, I formed my independent production company, Soul Series Productions, and almost immediately began filming Cheer Up, Charlie- a web series currently on a successful festival run. Right now, I’m focusing on writing and producing and trying to make the jump from freelance to full-time work with these skills.

Nun Habits is the story of a bisexual nun who befriends a high school senior coming to terms with her own sexuality. Together, they embark on a journey to discover where they fit into traditional Catholic teaching. Nun Habits was written in an attempt to give queer Catholics a voice by representing them in a way not normally seen in mainstream media. When my best friend was 17, she came out to me as bisexual and was so scared that I would be offended because I’m Catholic. It broke my heart that someone I view like family to me would think that I would not only be unaccepting of who she is, but be offended by her loving another person. As someone who is Catholic and went to Catholic school, I saw people afraid and struggling with their sexuality, believing that even God doesn’t love them anymore. It was important to me to give representation to these voices. After several ideas, showing a confident bisexual nun fully accepting and recognizing how loved she is by God seemed the most radical and beautiful way to do it.

The screening was great. I think the way that the projects went in terms of order really helped the evening flow well and the Q&A at the end was awesome! Many film festivals don’t do a Q&A at the end of it and I loved being able to share more of my personal story on the project.

I became a member of the Lift-Off Global Network because I felt that I needed a boost in my career. As someone who didn’t finish college and doesn’t have a degree, it can be difficult for me to find employment, especially in a full-time position at a production company or network. When I saw that the Lift-Off Global Network offered career help, access to screenings, and was run by young people trying to build a better future in the film industry, I knew I had to join. I’m still navigating the platform and figuring out how to use it to my advantage, but the festival submission waivers alone cover the membership cost. I can’t wait to continue working with the Lift-Off Global Network.

I am taking Cheer Up, Charlie - a project I produced - to T.O. Webfest and The London Cannabis Film Festival. I am also in pre-production & development for three new projects I’m producing through my production company: a web series, a short film that I’m also directing, and a feature film.  I’m addition, I’m writing two new concepts which I’ll begin pitching late summer.