Yorkshire-born Sheena has directed four shorts: A Plaster A Paper and a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich, 0800-FINALGIRL, Roseberry Road and The Ditch (official selection: London Short FF, Aesthetica FF, Sunderland Shorts, Carmarthen Bay FF). She also co-directed the first two seasons of PERSONA, the world’s first online soap designed for smartphones. She works extensively in community arts projects, both in London and in Yorkshire. Sheena is strongly motivated by encouraging women to write, direct and produce films, particularly in the horror genre.
I chose to direct Give Me a Name because it was written by my long-term collaborator, Stephen Coltrane, and I had seen the script develop and change as he worked on it. I felt a strong connection with the characters of Jennifer and Kate, and their struggles due to the political climate in which they are living and working. The story was inspired by what was going on politically in the world pre-2020 and how that might negatively impact our future, but watching as the Covid-19 pandemic has unfolded worldwide makes Give Me a Name even more relevant now.
For me, at the heart of the story is a question about doing the right thing. Relatively new to the department, Kate is keen to impress and believes unwaveringly in the work she is doing. Jennifer has been around a lot longer and has seen things change – she is starting to question why things are the way they are and wonders if there is another way. But the reality is that there is no choice for either of them – they both must follow the rules and complete the tasks given to them.
For this film I was lucky to be once again working with two excellent actors: Lucy Wilkins and Katie Pattinson who both starred in my previous film The Ditch. This is the third film I have made with Lucy, as she starred in my 2016 film Roseberry Road.
We shot Give Me a Name in four days in one building which included all three of our locations. We chose this building because Stephen had attended an immersive theatre performance there, and discovered what was to become our interrogation room – as soon as I saw the photos I knew it was absolutely perfect, and luckily they also had a corridor and office space we could use.
Our shoot days were long and at times it was very stressful and gruelling. We shot in February and despite being inside it was incredibly cold (the building didn’t have heating), but I will always remember this shoot fondly because of the cast and crew, everyone was so friendly and kind to each other – people went away from this shoot saying this was one of the loveliest sets they had ever worked on and that is such a special thing.
Another important and interesting detail about Give Me a Name is that the post-production was completed entirely in the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture lock, the grading, the sound design, the soundtrack – these were all created remotely and made use of emails and video conferencing software to communicate changes and notes. At times this was very difficult and being together in the same space would have made it so much easier, but eventually we did it and I am so proud of what we managed to achieve under such difficult circumstances.