Chi Energy: Get to know ‘Montreal Girls’ director Patricia Chica
Patricia Chica is here to break the mold. The director has practiced a new method of filmmaking called Chi Energy, which utilizes state of the art techniques and mind strategies to help bolster the quality of production. It can be practiced by anyone, and is said to provide a more clear, communicative, and ultimately more beneficial path towards getting the performances and the intensity that you want for your movie.
Chica utilized Chi Energy during the making of her most recent film, MONTRÉAL GIRLS. Film Daily had the fine pleasure of sitting down with the director to discuss her Chi Energy method, her time in the industry, and the perspective that has allowed her to make a film as unique and compelling as MONTRÉAL GIRLS. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us about your history in entertainment. How did you start your journey?
Since I was a teenager, I have been involved in almost every position in the film and TV industry: from Director to Casting Director; Writer to Producer; Videographer to Editor and even as a Photographer and Publicist.
To be a great director, I knew I needed to master every aspect of my profession to better understand the filmmaking process and therefore become a stronger leader for my team.
While my accumulated field experience supported my filmmaking journey, it was through my understanding of Chi Energy, a creative method I developed, that helped me to express authentic storytelling by tapping into my inner wisdom, my intuition and higher consciousness.
The techniques and methods that I have used for myself, I now share with my cast, crew, collaborators and coaching clients. It has become a powerful mindset tool to influence their creative process by realizing the intentions of their work and performance, as well as aid in their day-to-day life.
Throughout my life, I have trained with masters that focus on mind and body integration practices ranging from meditation, Kundalini yoga, Reiki, Shamanism, Business & Mindset coaching, Body Expression, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Healing, Role-Play and more. I have borrowed tools and techniques from each of these disciplines to create a coherent system that is customized to serve entertainment industry professionals – actors, directors, writers, producers and crew members in particular.
Who were your biggest artistic influences growing up?
Growing up in a household where the arts weren’t celebrated enough, I had no access to role models in the entertainment industry or the arts. All I knew about filmmaking as a kid was through blockbuster films. At home, I grew up watching MTV and its Canadian sister networks MuchMusic and MusiquePlus. My early artistic influences then, notably came from the music industry: rock bands, singers-songwriters and pop culture.
It’s when I started film school, at age 17, that my arts education expanded considerably. I discovered French New Wave filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffault and Éric Rohmer, whose cinema was an artistic language that spoke to me. Once I saw Godard’s BREATHLESS, I was hooked!
What excited me about this irreverent cinematic movement is that it rejected traditional filmmaking conventions in favor of narrative and visual experimentation. For the first time, I recognized myself in its rebellious spirit, and exhilarating purpose to defy the status quo through story and form. Watching the work of those revolutionary filmmakers inspired me to develop my own visual and narrative style, as well as to ignite my commitment to create socially driven stories.
For those reasons, my artistic influences resulting from the work of both rock and pop culture icons and avant-garde visualists shaped my formative years as a filmmaker. I started developing my own cinematic language, the stories, images, and energy that would then express my own authentic voice.
What was the inspiration behind your latest film, MONTRÉAL GIRLS?
MONTRÉAL GIRLS was born from a collaboration with my beloved creative partner and friend Kamal John Iskander, who is also a brilliant filmmaker and screenwriter. Kamal and I had previously worked together on a horror comedy short film, A TRICKY TREAT, which he wrote and I directed and produced. The short had enormous success, premiering at Fantasia to a packed theatre, and winning countless awards at various horror competitions such as jury awards for Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Editing and VFX at the Macabre Faire Film Festival, to name a few. Even after 7 years, the short is still securing screenings at film festivals.
My inspiration for MONTRÉAL GIRLS came from my intention to tell uplifting stories that explore universal themes which connect audiences and incite a spark for inner-change. Storytelling is a holistic process for me. It’s grounded by characters who must confront and overcome complex mundane obstacles to transcend their ordinary selves and connect to a higher purpose.
It’s with that in mind that MONTRÉAL GIRLS came to be, as its story and characters are inspired by Kamal’s and my own personal experiences. The Montréal nightlife and the female leading characters, Désirée and Yaz, are inspired by my own journey, from when I was a young Montréal girl and alternative artist, navigating my hometown’s subcultures and indie rock n’ roll scene, as a documentarian, photographer and insider. The lead character, Ramy, is based on Kamal’s own Middle Eastern background and cultural upbringing.
It was important for us to have the film in three languages– English, Arabic and French – reflecting the rich diversity found within our own lives.
MONTRÉAL GIRLS utilized a method called Chi Energy. Can you tell us a little bit about Chi Energy and how it came to be?
Chi Energy is a very unique method that connects one’s energy field with their intuition, mindset, language and body expression in order to expand their creative potential, as a performer or storyteller, and to reach their desired outcome faster.
For actors, the Chi Energy process allows them to overcome any mental tension or block that may be holding them back during a performance, and to integrate a new energetic paradigm which will bring them back to their center (body).
Chi Energy also allows us to change our reality through intention and frequency alignment since how you are from within affects the people and environment around you. When creatives work on a project together, it is crucial to be aware of the energy we carry and how it can impact the entire group.
As a Chi Energy educator, it is my responsibility to bring that mindset to the entire team and to provide them with the necessary tools that would help them achieve their highest intentions, as well as the collective’s purpose.
How does using Chi Energy differ from the method you’ve experienced during other projects?
Working with the Chi Energy mindset is to move through two different realms of existence. It is mainly through materializing the intentions from the non-physical realm, into the physical realm.
You can imagine how limiting it is for anybody working solely with what’s in front of them, in the material world, and not tapping into their higher potential of consciousness.
Before I started using Chi Energy in my filmmaking process, and life in general, I didn’t have any particular method to lean on. My focus, state of flow and realization abilities were limited and unpredictable, which made my intended results much longer to appear or simply not happen at all.
You reportedly spent a year training the film’s stars, Hakim Brahimi and Jasmina Parent, in Chi Energy. Tell us about that process and how they responded.
I had a very particular image in mind for Ramy, the leading role. I visualized a charismatic Middle Eastern man in his early twenties with thick dark hair, deep eyes and a certain prudish naivete about him.
I auditioned hundreds of candidates across Canada – particularly from Quebec – Hollywood and even the Middle East. It wasn’t until I came across Hakim Brahimi’s profile on Instagram that I felt I was getting close.
During his 90-minute audition with me, the takes he did were very raw and showcased slight acting ability. Instead of giving up on him, I decided to interview him about life. He got very emotional when telling me about his home country, Algeria, and what he missed about it. That vulnerable moment with Hakim stood out to me. Rather than being stuck in his head by trying to impress me, he was very raw and honest with me. Although he had no previous acting experience, I knew I could do something great with him because I was able to get to the depth of his emotions.
I remember telling Hakim “Listen, if I take a gamble casting you as the leading role in a feature film without any acting experience, you have to commit to put in the hours of preparation with me. Are you ready to do that?” and he answered: “I have a full-time job at a bank.”, so I replied: “Well, you have to be available and make the film a priority if I cast you”.
A few days later he called and told me, “Hey, I just quit my job, when do we start?”.
For the following year, I designed a rigorous training program with Chi Energy, consisting of new weekly lessons and exercises for both Hakim and Jasmina Parent, the leading actress playing Désirée. Some weeks, we trained for up to 15 hours, tapping into each chakra, every limiting belief, and releasing any blockages in the mind or nervous system.
We worked on all the aspects of their energetic alignment (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) so that they could reach and even surpass their highest potential.
We explored real life situations and emotions that usually trigger us, in order to release that energy and foster the creation of the character and performance with a blank slate.
Chi Energy allowed them to just be in the present moment by honouring the different qualities that a performance demands and letting go of any expectations to allow those connections to happen organically. By surrendering to the process and trusting their intuition and body, it brought them instinctual validation that enhanced their performance.
I aspire to create an environment that fosters absolute trust between the actors and myself as the director. Through this process, that level of trust was created to the point where I was confident that between “action” and “cut”, the scene was theirs and there was nothing else I could have done at that point. All I could do was to send out my unconditional support, and it was incredible to witness the change and confidence they gained throughout.
My highest intention is for any creative person to learn these techniques, which derive from ancient knowledge and that serve modern applications to support our contemporary lives. It’s a new way of creating that will make our industry a much more conscious and evolved space.
There is a short documentary called “CHI ENERGY – The Making Of Montréal Girls” by Noa Blanche Beschorner showing this entire process, which should come out at the same time as the feature film.
Do you find that Chi Energy had a direct impact on their performances?
Chi Energy definitely had a direct impact on how the actors performed in my films. It was incredible to witness the progress experienced by Hakim Brahimi and Jasmina Parent during the year they trained with me prior to filming MONTRÉAL GIRLS.
We began filming during the first pandemic’s lockdown. This made it extremely difficult to shoot intimate scenes where the actors had to create a physical and emotional connection.
I had to come up with the tools that would help support the actors to convey that closeness even when they had to wear masks and stand six feet apart from each other.
When the actors arrived on set each morning, we worked with Chi energy to create that space of connection between them, a method they really embraced.
Having learnt those tools, techniques and practices made a tremendous difference on set during such an isolating and restricted time.
Do you plan on using Chi Energy for all of your future projects?
Once you’ve worked with Chi Energy, it’s hard to go back to previous ways of directing and producing films. It is my purpose and life mission now to bring this method to the film and television industry.
I strongly believe that if everyone in entertainment utilized this method and these tools, we would create more conscious stories with more depth, vision and impact, while collaborating within a more harmonious environment.
The method brings people together in a way where they can support each other and the story they’re telling that will then create an impact in the audience.
How did the method apply to the crew members who worked offscreen?
Before every production, I create a chakra breakdown and a colour palette for each actor and character. I would take the natural skin, eye and hair colours of the actor and then match it with the dominant chakra colours of the energetic and physical characteristics of their protagonist. By combining those two, I’m able to create a distinct and unique colour palette for each performer.
Any head of department that needed to work with colours, such as the cinematographer, production designer, makeup artist, and colorist used this chart to match the results intended for the scene. That way, it allowed a cohesive way of creating where everyone had the same reference and direction. Whether they were under daylight or tungsten lighting, they always had the same colour reference that matched with the rest of the team’s work. This was one of the many examples of how the crew applied Chi Energy during the production.
Non-filmmakers may also be intrigued by Chi Energy. How can someone adapt Chi Energy methodology in their daily lives?
Chi Energy is a mindset, a habit, a daily practice and a lifestyle. The laws are universal and they can be applied to any profession and life situation.
Are there elements of Chi Energy that you still want to work on or refine?
I expand my knowledge around Chi Energy every single day. It’s a constant process of evolution and growth for me and the people that I coach. I am presently putting these principles and ideas in a book.
What has been your greatest professional success?
My greatest professional success has been discovering my gift: Chi Energy.
My proudest achievement has been that when I make a film, I feel that I contribute to the expansion and growth of my team and the people who participate in making that film. At the same time, I trust it affects the audiences who receive the film in a beneficial way.
What about your biggest professional failure? What did you learn?
Not listening to my intuition or gut feeling has always set me back. For example, I have been too keen to get involved in professional relationships, too fast or too soon, out of desperation, even though my intuition sent me nudges that something was off about those people. Every time I let my ego or mind drive my actions, either my well-being or projects have suffered. Those setbacks served me as lessons to always listen to my inner wisdom and trust that it is there to guide me.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
Listen to your intuition, trust your gut feeling, ignore the naysayers and always take action, fast.
Execute your vision at three levels higher, three steps ahead and three layers deeper than most people. It will make you a more conscious and evolved creator. I call it the 3-3-3’s.
Request less; Offer more. When you’re the one bringing the most value, you’ll always attract abundant and never run out of resources. And, always be aware that your Energy is your most valuable currency.
Lastly, what is your favorite film of all time?
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. After two decades, I’m still obsessed with the ending.
You can find Patricia Chica here:
Official Filmmaker Site: www.PatriciaChica.com
Chi Energy Coaching Site: www.TheChicaMethod.com
Montréal Girls Site: www.MontrealGirlsMovie.com
Production Company Site: www.FlirtFims.net
Tik Tok: www.tiktok.com/@PatriciaChicaOfficial