Sherren Lee [Interview]

Happy Monday Folks! Today we are kicking the week off with some wonderful words from one of the finest indie filmmakers working today. It’s the wonderful Sherren Lee! For those of you who managed to check out our Sunday Matinee that went live yesterday for the brilliant short film, The Things You Think I’m Thinking, you may recognize Sherren by name. Or if you are just a fan of brilliant modern cinema, you probably have been following Sherren for years!

Sherren has had an amazing career thus far, and with her latest short film straight blowing up in the festival circuit, it is only a short matter of time before she is a household name across the globe. With that, we are so excited that she was able to take some time to share some words with us here at Trainwreck’d Society. So, without further babbling, please enjoy some great words from the brilliant Sherren Lee!

When did you discover your passion for the world of filmmaking and storytelling? Was it always something you have wanted to do since you were a youth, or did you just manage to stumble into this world?

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an actor. So, as a kid, I was in all the school plays and sent my headshot to any agency I could find (and got rejected by all of them). In university, I studied Marketing and Organizational Behaviour, and kept acting on the side, mostly doing community musical theatre. Then, as I was about to graduate, I directed a play for the first time… and never acted again. Since then, I knew I wanted to be a director and has pursued nothing but.

Your short film The Things You Think I’m Thinking is one of the most interesting short films I have ever watched, as it manages to be both heart warming & wrenching at the same time, often moments apart! So how did this project manage to come to life? What made you decide to bring this incredible story to the screen? 

That is such a compliment, thank you! It’s very important to me to tell stories that move and warm our hearts, so that means a lot. The project was brought to me by Jesse LaVercombe, the screenwriter. He wrote the script specifically for Prince Amponsah, who plays our lead Sean. The story was completely inspired by Prince and his real life story. Jesse has such a knack for writing unique and charming characters, and they felt real to me right away. The script also made me feel uncomfortable — I was scared of not being able to handle the subject matter in the “right” way, and that made me want to do it. I knew it was an opportunity to tell a story that focused on empathy, and to challenge my own discomfort… so I leaned into that.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking (2018)

I understand you have been working the film around the festival circuit lately, and have managed to take home some very covenant awards at some wonderful festivals. So, overall, what has the fan reaction been like to the film? Have you noticed an impact on people’s lives? 

It truly has been a humbling experience. You never know how your film is going to affect other people, and the stories that audiences have shared with us about their own lives have been so moving and unexpected. The thing I’m most excited about, is that most people just get it–we all know what it’s like to go on a first date (which is excruciating enough) and to be afraid being judged for own flaws that we’re desperately trying to hide. We all have demons, but Sean’s can’t be hidden: so this scenario of a first date is a universal entry point for audiences to only imagine how difficult it must be for Sean, a burn-survivor and amputee, to put himself out there, to not be in his own head… things that we all need to work on.

I am always curious about relationships between those on screen, and their directors. I often ask actors and actresses “What makes a great director?”, but I would also like to know what you believe makes a great actor to work with? What do you believe has to be in place for a solid relationship to exist between those in performing roles and those you are guiding the process as directors? 

I think that great actors come from all kinds of places and have all kinds of different processes. For me as a director, it’s part of the job and part of the fun to get to know how your actors work and how to communicate with them. But ultimately, trust is the most important thing. If an actor comes with their own prep and their own ideas of who their character is, that’s very very exciting. And then we can have a dialogue and craft this character together. Basically, we’re partners. We want to give each other what we want. I’m there to make sure the character we’ve built comes alive on screen. I’m so in awe of actors because when the camera starts rolling, they are completely vulnerable, honest and open to me whispering in their ears… and they’re capable of shifting every so slightly to hit the sweet spot that we’re looking for. That experience is magical.

If you were handed a limitless budget, and a laundry list of your favorite performers and crew…and were tasked to create a biopic for any female figure who has affected world history in some way, who would you choose? And who would you want on your team? 

Oh my goodness, this is an impossible question. There are SO SO many talented people I want to work with. I’d really love to make a classic Wuxia (martial arts) movie with a female hero. One that hasn’t been told, through my female gaze. I’ll have to start doing my research to find this story! That would be a dream.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I’m currently working towards my first feature film, With Might and Grace, about a grieving mother and talented chef at the height of her career who checks into an illegal assisted-suicide facility with a reflection period of fifteen days. There, she meets a group of people, each with their own struggles, who challenge her right to choose own fate. I’m also about to start prep on two episodes of Murdoch Mysteries Season 12! I’m so excited to be returning this year after directing two episodes last year. And after that, I’ll be going straight onto CBC’s new show, Coroner, to direct one episode.

7) What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Watering my plants after being away for a month. My roommate calls me the plant lady. It’s gonna be okay.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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