Artist of the Month > 2021 Artists
NAME: Shayna Connelly
LOCATION: Chicago, IL
ORIGIN: St. Paul, MN
ART: Filmmaking, Writing
MAIN GENRE: Documentary, Narrative, and Experimental Film; Creative Non-fiction, Fiction Screenwriter
TRAINING: MFA in Screenwriting/Directing from Columbia College Chicago
ARTS AFFILIATIONS: University Film and Video Association
BIO: Shayna Connelly Chicago-based filmmaker whose work explores hauntings, liminality and the boundaries between documentary, experimental and fiction filmmaking. Inspired by a book on haunted houses shelved in the non-fiction section of her childhood library, Connelly’s lifelong obsession with ghosts led her to explore trauma, place, identity and the link between fear and desire. Her hybrid approach to cinema questions the strict categorization of film modes and genres. She breaks cinematic rules regarding character, action and structure while exploring subjectivity, surrealism and abstraction.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Her eight recent films have screened internationally at over 250 festivals including Ann Arbor, Athens International, Palm Springs ShortFest, Sydney Underground, San Diego Underground, Oxford Film Festival, Antimatter, Brooklyn Film Festival and Chicago Feminist Film Festival. They have won awards at The Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image (2018 and 2020), Chicago Underground, Ithaca Fantastik, IC Docs, Women in Horror Film Festival, and Cinepocalypse. In 2016 and 2018 she was named one of Chicago’s 50 Screen Gems by Newcity Magazine.
LATEST WORKS: Bananas Girl (documentary short, 2020), Fucked Up Point Blank (experimental short, 2019), Artist Statement (experimental documentary, 2019), Quiver (narrative short, 2018). Works-In-Progress: A Life In Anecdotes (creative non-fiction/book), Dizygotic (feature-length screenplay / experimental ghost story), The Tensile Strength of Air (narrative short, shooting 2022), My Mother Was Angry With Me When She Died (experimental short in post-production), A Psychogeography of Grief (experimental short in post-production).
WORK SAMPLES: Trailers for Quiver and F**ked Up Point Blank
Please describe your artistic themes
My films explore hauntings that arise from traumatic events, mental illness, everyday routines, the search for truth and the aftermath of grief. Tangible events resulting in instability and threats of violence trigger ghosts that affect our daily lives. Cinema lends itself to visualizing the warped perceptions caused by these hauntings and transforms individual to universal experience.
Please describe your creative process
I am a process-oriented filmmaker and explore multiple different ideas concurrently, allowing time for each one to gestate until its form and method of execution become clear. The path toward a finished film or piece of writing is circuitous and the journey is the most important part. The process allows me to shape incomprehensible situations, make sense of the unknowable or pay tribute to the sublime.
What are your artistic goals? What do you need to achieve them?
My goal is to continue working across multiple mediums in perpetuity. In order to do that I need funding for film production along with opportunities to showcase my work. In terms of writing I could use an agent and more information on publishing.
What are your views on the industry?
Working within a traditional film model doesn’t interest me mostly because my work doesn’t fit into that world. I can’t begrudge anyone who is able to secure film funding, though, and I watch plenty of mainstream films.
With a little ingenuity short form films are achievable on one’s own schedule, but in order to make the feature I’m writing, I would want a production company with a distribution plan and funding in place. A small, independent production house or a savvy producer with good fundraising skills would be a good fit for what I’m doing.
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
Don’t wait for permission to start working. The best thing you can do regardless of the medium you work in is to observe the world around you. Explore the ideas that intrigue you, make as much art as you can, embrace when things don’t work the way you expect and find a way to exhibit what you’re proud of.