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‘Guidance’ Dir. Pat Mills to “Dear Fat People’s” Nicole Arbour: “We Will Not Be Working Together”

'Guidance' Dir. Pat Mills to "Dear Fat People's" Nicole Arbour: "We Will Not Be Working Together"

Pat Mills, who directed of TIFF’14 critically acclaimed “Guidance,” did have the intention to hire Nicole Arbour to play a cheerleader in his upcoming film dealing with overweight teen empowerment: “Don’t Talk to Irene.
This week Arbour was at the center of media storm after her YouTube video, “Dear Fat People,” exploded online and exposed her views on overweight individuals.

After watching Nicole’s video, here is Pat Mills statement:

My name is Pat Mills. I am a Toronto-based filmmaker in pre-production on my second feature film. It’s a body-positive teen dance movie set in a retirement
home. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who dreams of being a cheerleader, but she is constantly bullied for being fat. She learns that she doesn’t have
to change anything about herself to be awesome because she already is. The title is “Don’t Talk to Irene.” We are scheduled to shoot next month.

I’ve been developing the script for several years. I am excited to shoot this – and the message is important to me. I’m gay. I was bullied a lot as a kid.
I wore purple jogging pants every day during the seventh grade – you can imagine what that did to my social life. I am no stranger to ridicule and
loneliness. It’s made me a sensitive storyteller, but it also developed my sense of humour. And now I make comedy movies set in high school. I guess I
never got over high school. Every filmmaker has an obsession, right?

“Don’t Talk to Irene” is a dance movie, so obviously we needed a choreographer. We met with a woman who not only did traditional dance choreography, but was
a cheerleader as well. She was fun and nice and had a lot of energy. She even had a YouTube channel and identified as a “youtuber”. She seemed like a
perfect fit for the project. I shared the script with her. She said she dug it and was excited to come on board. I was supposed to get together with her
this week for what she called a “choreo party” to watch my favourite dance scenes and talk ideas. And then a crazy thing happened on Saturday – I saw
something on the internet that made me never want to see her again. Her name is Nicole Arbour.

I was randomly checking Facebook and a comment on a video popped up. The video is called “Dear Fat People” – it’s an unfunny and cruel fat-shaming video
that guises itself about being about “health.” It’s fat phobic and awful. It went on for over for six minutes. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I
was so upset I was shaking like Shelley DuVall in the “The Shining.”

Bullies like Nicole Arbour are the reason I am making this movie. I’m tired of body shaming. It’s everywhere. This nice choreographer I met turned out to
be the reason I wrote this movie. Her video added an offensive twist to the development of this film. I was shocked.

It’s very odd that we live in a world now where people post their opinions on YouTube (to get views), but they cannot say these opinions to our faces. My
film celebrates being different. It celebrates not fitting in. I want to arm teen girls of all sizes with confidence. People like Nicole Arbour strip this
confidence away. She knew what my movie was about. Why couldn’t she express these opinions to my face? I guess talking the old fashioned way won’t get you
internet-famous.

I’ve learned that the people who shame fat people hiding under an excuse that it’s about their “health” are the same people who ridicule them when they see
them working out at the gym.

Nicole: Did you even read my script? It is a body positive teen movie. It has a message that is in direct opposition to your cruel and lame YouTube rant.

On behalf of all of us who have been bullied and have a taste for comedy that doesn’t make people feel shitty about themselves, “Fat shaming” is very much
a thing. It’s just as real as not getting a job because of your hateful opinions that you call “comedy.” We will not be working together.

You are not hired for “Don’t Talk to Irene.”

– Pat Mills

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