Filmmaker Q&A Skip Shea
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
What catapulted your interest and love for cinema?
One day, staying home from school alone I put on a UHS channel and they were showing an old Marco Vicario's Horror Castle with Christopher Lee.
I was also, I still am, a visual artist. I would always draw pop culture things from my childhood. Batman, The Beatles or Alice Cooper. And I would also draw the classic Universal horror monsters like Dracula or Frankenstein.
When I was in high school I also grew to have a great love for theater. Even then I always wanted to write and direct. I read plays by Edward Albee, David Mamet and Samuel Beckett and fell in love with their stories. At that time it was in the mid to late seventies so I was also finally able to get to a cinema, I was able to see some of the greatest movies ever made when they came out. Taxi Driver, Jaws, The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Wicker Man. By the time we had our drives license we were going to the movies two or three times a week.
And cinema was the perfect marriage between my love for drawing and painting with theater. Life circumstances made it so I took the long scenic road to get here. But I'm finally here.
Trinity was a such a powerful film, can you tell us about the origin of the story and what was the most challenging part about making the film?
I'm a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts. In December of 2002, the same year of the Boston Globe's Spotlight story about the abuse in the Boston Archdiocese, I was Christmas shopping with my wife at a local bookstore. And the priest that abused me was working there. He walked right up to me, with a big smile on his face asking me how I was doing. My emotions were already raw from the Globe story. The story had such an impact on me that I went public with my own case after it came out. So seeing him walk up to us and be as friendly as ever was an incredibly surreal experience. I dissociated. It was an out of body type moment. I hoped to capture that feeling with Trinity.
The answer to the most challenging part to making the movie is far less interesting. It was the snow. We shot it in a winter where it seemed every week had a blizzard. It was brutal to schedule around.
You are also Associate Producer on Izzy Lee's film Rites Of Vengeance, which, much like your film Trinity, deals with the corruption of religion at the hands of religious figures - Was it a conscious decision to continue taking on that theme?
First off it's a honor to get to work with Izzy on anything. I loved Legitimate when I first saw it. It was brilliant. She often uses horror as a vehicle to expose a lot of social injustices. Picket and For a Good Time Call are also movies of her's that tackle real issues. I think she is a very powerful and important voice in horror today.
With my personal history with the church, I've taken on that theme with just about every film I've made, with one exception, Microcinema. But even that is about a sexual predator so close enough. It was the short Ave Maria, which definitely is a direct shot at the church, that put me on that map with this theme. Izzy was a producer and actor it. She has a role in Trinity too. Ave Maria has screened all over the world and picked up a few awards, but the one that sticks out was winning the Audience Award for Best Film at the Interioria Horror Festival in Rome, Italy. To take a movie like that to the doorstep of the Vatican and win an Audience Award was truly something special.
Can you talk to us about the Shawna Shea Memorial Film Festival, what it's about, and how people can get involved?
The Shawna Shea Film Festival is the major fundraiser for the Shawna E Shea Memorial Foundation Inc, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The foundation is named after one of my twin daughter's who was killed in a car accident in 1999 at the age of 16. The official mission of the Foundation is to support young people, especially women, in filmmaking, performance arts and other artistic and cultural endeavors through assistance, collaborative fellowships, mentoring and educational opportunities. We established the Foundation in memory of Shawna, a creative and artistic young woman who lost her life too soon and we strive to sustain her legacy of encouraging young people who live in the margins of society and yet have dreams and aspirations in the fields of film and performance arts. The film festival is an annual event we hold in Southbridge, Massachusetts and we've been fortunate enough to screen some excellent films from all genres. If anyone would like more information about the foundation, how to submit a film or get involved they can go to the film festival website at ShawnaSheaFF.
Can you tell us about any other projects you may be working in the near future?
I'm constantly writing scripts. I have five features written and I'm halfway through another one. I also have a web series written. One is in development now, very very early stages. I'm working on the budget now. Hopefully I'll be able to make an announcement about that soon.