Interview with Filmmaker Samantha Soule (SHED)

SHED played to rave reviews at the January 2021 Female Filmmakers Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I have lived my entire professional life as an actress in front of the camera and on stage. I have always loved the experience of dissolving into a character. Bringing to life something someone else has imagined. It is an incredible gift to be on the team required to tell stories.

This past spring, my 40th birthday coincided with Covid hitting our shores. For the first time in 20 years the hustle and race of life as a freelancer was abruptly stopped. As frightening and unknown as the future seemed- it also felt like a chance to reassess, consider, take stock… to change.

I enrolled in classes on line. I busted out my camera. I started writing. Was terrible. Got into online writer’s groups. Read other’s work. Watched other’s films. It felt like… starting a garden. Cutting back overgrowth, clearing the soil. Starting the process of adding new nourishment. All in an attempt to expand. To grow. To change. To embrace this time as a chrysalis… to allow disintegration of my old self and evolve.

This film was made during that time. I didn’t have the money or access to a rental film camera so we shot it on my old Nikon. We had no budget. We had no crew. We strapped my tripod to the back of my truck and filmed around our homes and in our tiny rural town. A rainstorm rolled in and we adapted. We wrapped the camera in plastic and kept filming. The rainstorm flooded the river and my tripod legs weren’t long enough so we adapted, I went in handheld- Kim and I both shuddering and laughing in the freezing river. Kim had to get to work, we raced her back and I recorded the VO myself with a mic in my garage. All the while thinking “We can fix it in post! I can stabilize the footage or clean up the audio.. I can have Kim re record it properly…”

But once I cut the film together there was something… right about all it’s rawness. It’s imperfections. That the VO is both her inner voice, and another’s, a watcher of her process. That voice is both hers and mine.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I wrote the script three days before we filmed. The idea and text for the VO came at 1am the night before we were set to film. We shot all the footage in a single afternoon, masked, socially distant. I then worked on the edit for another handful of weeks. All told I think from idea to our picture lock was about a month.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Tender. Brave.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacle to completing this film was my own lack of skill! I was learning to edit while working on this so that certainly slowed things down! Lots of googling and zooms with other professionals! Thank goodness for community! I thought for while about adding music- decided against against it. The silence and jagged edges to that silence are so much what it feels to me these days. Even inside of forward movement there exist these jagged, raw breaks. These breaks in our “thoughts”- the silence to just take in the visual. That there is time for both taking in of stimulus and time for reflection. For processing. For action. That isn’t always a smooth experience.

Our film was made for no money- with no crew and no post production costs. I taught myself to edit in order to cut the footage. It is my attempt at “shedding” my own previous skin and evolving. It’s vulnerable, brave, tender, raw… and ultimately I hope, strong enough to stand on its own, as it is, bumps and scrapes and warts and all.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Watching the feedback was truly a gift. I have been solo with this footage for so many months now, so it was incredible to me that others were even watching it!! Sharing it. I am so grateful and humbled.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea for this film was very much born of this time in all our lives. A time to reflect and change. To alter for the better. Embrace the challenge of that growth and dive in.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I don’t know that I could say what film I’ve seen the most in my life… however I will say I have been watching and re watching films I love a lot right now- Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. Nomadland. Personal Shopper. Babette’s Feast. Fargo. Morven Callar. Lost In Translation. Daughters Of The Dust.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Figuring out the ways to submit and what do can be so complicated- such a wilderness. But the great folks at Film Freeway I think do an amazing job of helping us navigate that. Movie Maker Magazine also has fantastic guides to festivals. But ultimately I find other film makers are my best go to. Community!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I’m pretty all over the map music wise- but I think I may have listened to Talking Heads This Must Be The Place maybe the most.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

What’s next for me… well I have a short script CAIRNS is out to festivals, a second short, BIRDWATCHING, is going out to festivals and am developing a feature script with my brother, my friend and longtime collaborator Daniel Talbott which we hope to film next year. Also I have gone back to work as an actress and we are filming season 2 of Outer Banks.

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