Our Conversation with Shayna Connelly
Shayna is a rookie to the Gallery WIHM event. She is a Director, Screenwriter, and Producer.
Which of your achievements to date are you most proud of?
Making 15 films in the last six years is an achievement and I’m pleased about how well each film has done in its sphere of influence. The horror film I made in 2018, Quiver, is still going strong in festivals, playing at nearly 60 so far and winning 19 awards at places like Women in Horror Film Festival, Reels of the Dead Chicago, Cinepocalypse and Videoscream.
What’s your favorite horror film and why?
Ghost stories fascinate me most. I saw The Changeling and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death during my formative years, which means I was way too young to be watching them and they scared me to death. They use sound in amazing ways and influenced how I approach sound in my films.
Who is your hero in the horror world and why?
Karyn Kusama for general badassery, perseverance and refusing to go away after Jennifer’s Body underperformed at the box office, despite immense pressure. Her films are atmospheric, her female characters have depth and she works across genres, which only strengthens her horror films.
Share a practical tip for a woman who wants to do what you do.
The point is to finish your film, so don’t be a perfectionist who fiddles with every teeny thing for years. Recognize when the film is good enough to release. That frees you to make your next film even better. Finishing a film is an accomplishment. Creating a body of work is not just an accomplishment, it’s the goal.
Inspire someone who is not where they want to be in the industry yet.
Know who you are and don’t try to emulate someone else’s voice. Challenge yourself with every film, but be as honest and vulnerable as possible. When you have something to say and a clear point of view you’ll be surprised at what will happen.
Scare the crap out of us with something you have done or plan on doing!
I grew up in a haunted house until I was 6 years old. Full body apparitions have been see and phantom foot steps have been heard throughout the house. It was built in 1865 in a historical suburb north of Boston where Danvers State Hospital (Session 9) is located. I based my horror short film “Demonic Attachment” off of it.I’m writing a bonkers experimental horror feature that has a lot of nightmare imagery, including characters being eaten by monsters or structures. Mainly I think the film will terrify people because characters morph and change and the narrative is loose at best.
What projects do you have coming up?
Tons! Aside from the horror feature I have two short horror films that are ready for pre-production, one of which I will produce in the spring of 2020. I wrote it at the same time as Quiver, but it’s more realistic domestic horror. For 2019 I’m finishing an experimental doc short about my daughter called Bananas Girl. And I’m working on a couple of experimental films that I’m trying to figure out by filming and writing.
Here’s the synopsis for an anthology of my short films about various types of hauntings I’m looking to screen if anyone wants to help arrange something in their home town:
The relationship between transitory states of being and identity are explored throughout the series of eight short films that comprise A Memory Palace for Ghosts. The collection explores hauntings in relation to traumatic events, mental illness, everyday routines, the search for truth and the aftermath of grief through narrative, documentary and experimental forms