Director Biography – Sheena Holliday (GIVE ME A NAME)

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.

Director Statement

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.

By femalefilmfestival

The irony of this festival is that its goal is to not be around in 5 years time. To eventually not be relevant because there is zero need to have a festival geared for female talent and female stories because the stories presented in Hollywood and around the world are a balanced showcase of the human experience from both sexes. Our goal is to achieve a lot of success and then fold into oblivion simply because there is no need for this festival. This festival was created by the FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival as a simple reaction to a strong need to showcase female talent from around the world in a more profound way. When putting together the weekly festival, the administration noticed a lack of a female presence in the stories being shown at the festival. A classic example and analogy to the frustration is how the festival noticed that even the smaller roles in a screenplay were written for a man to play. There was zero reason for this in many stories. How a police officer, or a political campaign manager, for example with 3-4 lines in a screenplay was a "HE" character. Why? And these are the screenplays written by the winners! The talented one who have obtained agents and have began/beginning their careers as a writer.

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