'The High Note' director Nisha Ganatra says she's drawn to tales of unappreciated women (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3-min read

The High Note director Nisha Ganatra said she can “relate to” stories of women being unappreciated in creative industries.

Last year, Ganatra’s comedy Late Night focused on a female writer of colour struggling to break into the world of late night chat shows, while The High Note follows a music icon’s personal assistant, who really wants to be a producer.

Read more: Late Night star Emma Thompson on supporting female-led comedy

“There is something about just wanting so desperately to be part of an industry that gives you zero signs that they want you to be a part of it that I can sometimes relate to,” Ganatra told Yahoo Movies UK.

She added: “It's just so fun being an artist and it's so fun being in our industry and I think this movie really celebrated the fun and the joy of that.”

Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross in 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)
Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross in 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)

The High Note follows Dakota Johnson’s ambitious PA as she convinces a young singer — played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. — that she’s an accomplished producer who can help him make it big.

“I hope that people watch it and then get encouraged to follow their dreams and want to be music producers,” said Ganatra.

Read more: Kelvin Harrison Jr. on how his music background helped him

The 45-year-old filmmaker said: “With Late Night, I wanted to encourage a generation of young women to become late night writers.

“I guess I'm sort of making up for the lack of encouragement that I got by saying 'here, watch these movies' and then trying to encourage the masses to come on in here and have fun with us.

“It is such a joy that we get to do this for a living.”

Nisha Ganatra on the set of 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)
Nisha Ganatra on the set of 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)

Ganatra hopes her movie can be an uplifting balm for viewers stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for those who love the world of music.

She said: “I feel like so many music movies that I love get really dark or depressing and turn to addiction and depression.

“This one doesn't do that. It's just an uplifting movie that's really joyous all the way through.

“Even though it takes on some pretty big issues, it sneaks them in there and hides it in the comedy.

“I think from the first Mike Nichols movie I saw, my favourite thing to do is to be a big, entertaining Hollywood movie, but really say something about the world while you're doing it.”

Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Dakota Johnson in 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)
Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Dakota Johnson in 'The High Note'. (Credit: Universal/Focus Features)

Alongside Johnson and Harrison Jr., The High Note features Tracee Ellis Ross as Johnson’s music icon boss and Ice Cube as her long-term manager.

Read more: Ice Cube lined up as Fagin in new Oliver Twist

The movie had been planned for a cinema release, but is now heading straight to digital platforms as a result of the pandemic.

Ganatra said: “I’m hoping it helps lift spirits and just is a really fun distraction for a bit because it’s a pretty tough and uniquely odd time we are going through together.”

The High Note is available to rent at home from 29 May on Sky Store, Amazon Prime Video and other digital retailers.