Interview with Filmmaker Shannon Coffey (HAPPY 4 U)

HAPPY 4 U was a winning short film from the Latino FEEDBACK Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Lauren Bennett (Executive Producer/Some Cabal Studios) introduced me to Nikki Osborne and JZ Zepeda knowing we’d be a good fit to bring this film to life. Upon first meeting them I was instantly on board because I loved how honest their idea was and we have similar backgrounds being that we are all femme latinx comedians who came up in the improv scene. I had a strong sense that I was the right person to help see this through because I knew the world they were wanting to show and I was inspired by the many different themes we’d be able to explore in such a seemingly silly brunch with friends.

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

We were making this with a festival deadline in mind so we were able to get a final cut that was good enough to submit within 2 months.

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

Funny and relatable.

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

The obstacle that was most important for me to overcome was making sure our packed shooting schedule didn’t affect performances. I was asking our actors to swing between being big and funny and then vulnerable and grounded in short windows of time with a small number of takes for each moment. It’s a fun balancing act to give your cast the feeling that there’s room to play so they’re at their best while simultaneously scheming with your AD on how to move through things as efficiently as possible.

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

I loved seeing viewers’ faces light up when they said the title of the film, it meant everything to see people laugh just thinking of it.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to make films! Watching movies was always a family bonding experience in my home and as soon as I could talk I was telling anyone who would listen that I’m an actor.

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

I’m a big rewatcher so there are a lot of competing titles when I think of my “most watched” but a movie that stands out to me is The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks. When I was 19 I was visiting my sister in SLC and I found a DVD player on the street. When I got home I plugged it in and inside was this movie! I love campy horror, black magic and anything even mildly queer so this was a perfect treat! I rewatched it so many times and made so many people watch it with me. It’s been a while since I’ve had the experience of a movie finding me in such an offbeat destined kind of way.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I love meeting the other filmmakers so I’m a big fan of festivals that offer mixers and/or panels.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

FilmFreeway is user friendly and to the point, I appreciate how it simplifies the submission process.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Bread and butter.

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

Films, standup, podcasting – I’m always up to something! If you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing next you can find me on instagram, I’m @coffey.

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By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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