Rising Star And Director Quinn Shephard Talks Working With Bella Thorne And Chris Messina
Although Quinn Shephard may be just 22 years old, the emerging actress and director is quickly carving out a niche for herself in the fast-paced world of Hollywood. On the phone, Shephard sounds enthusiastic and bubbly as she describes her passion for the screen and her latest film projects. The up-and-comer graced the screen in director A.D. Calvo’s Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl, which is streaming now on Shudder. She is also slated to appear in this summer’s Midnight Sun, alongside Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Shephard also directed the recent drama film Blame, which hit the screens in April at the Tribeca Film Festival.
On the tail of her Tribeca premiere, Real Style caught up with the young filmmaker about her experiences. From her love of cinema to working with her famous co-stars, Shephard spoke to us about her biggest year yet.
Real Style: What inspired you to pursue acting?
Quinn: I started acting when I was really young. My mom used to be an actress, so when I was a kid, she used to bring me on auditions, as a way of having a bonding activity. It used to be a way to broaden my horizons, and we used to explore the city, and we’d go on commercials together. I actually booked my first film when I was four and a half. We got to live in Prague for three months because I was doing that, which was pretty crazy. I definitely wasn’t a showbiz kid, I went to public school and had a normal upbringing, but I was acting part time.
Real Style: You recently starred as Beth in Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl. How was that experience?
Quinn: Beth is a really fascinating character. It was a really interesting experience exploring her. Not to give anything away about the plotline, but there’s a large supernatural element to her backstory. I’d never really explored anything about that before. I think the biggest challenge in playing her was figuring out a way to humanize a character, who can come off (if not played right) as very much a flat villain. I really worked with [director A.D. Calvo] who had a lot of sympathy for Beth, as did I. We worked together to create a history and world-weary sadness that was underneath her evil, so she could still feel like a three-dimensional character, even if she is supernatural.
Real Style: You are also starring in Midnight Sun this August, alongside Bella Thorne. Tell us about working with this fellow rising star.
Quinn: That film was a pretty fun shoot. It was in Vancouver, where I was for a month and a half shooting it. I played a funny tomboy. That was very natural to me, and I got the chance to do a lot of improv comedy on set, because I was playing a comic relief character.
[Bella Thorne] and I were playing best friends, so there’s always a challenge when you’re trying to do that, of trying to create authenticity. You want to make it seem that these girls have really grown up together. We did some improv on set, which the producer and director really loved. We tried to keep a playful, close vibe. She was cool to work with.
Real Style: It seems to be a big year for you! You’re the director and star of Blame, which stars Chris Messina and premiered at Tribeca. How did you find the festival?
Quinn: [Chris Messina] is a lovely person. The festival is great; Tribeca was extremely supportive of the film. We had really amazing reactions and filled out every screening. We had very positive reviews. Ultimately for me, what was even more important than that was hearing the reactions of the audience live. I had so many young female filmmakers come up to me and talk about how seeing someone else around their age do something like this was an inspiration. That was a powerful thing.
Real Style: As a writer, director and actor, what do you enjoy the most out of these three?
Quinn: I think coming off of Blame, I’ve been talking a lot about directing. It’s something that I really love and connect with. I truly consider it what I was born to do. That kind of loops in with filmmaking on the whole, because when you create something, you’re also wearing a lot more hats than just director. At the same time, I also think acting is something that’s very powerful in my life.
Real Style: Do you have any favourite films that inspire you?
Quinn: I’m very heavily inspired by films like Donnie Darko, American Beauty and this French film called Girlhood. I really love [South Korean director] Park Chan-wook, so Old Boy and Stoker. I love the visuals from films like Spring Breakers. When I was a kid, I was really obsessed with Heathers, The Virgin Suicides and Girl, Interrupted. I’ve always been inspired by films with a level of magic to them.
Real Style: Where else do you gather your creative energy from?
Quinn: I love music. I actually collaborated with some musicians for music for my film Blame. I think music is a big inspiration; I listen to it a lot when I’m writing. I really love cinematic music. A lot of the time, I make playlists for my characters when I act. I also make playlists for the scripts that I write. I think also having life experiences gives you a lot to draw from, as an artist.
Photo 1: IMDB
Photos 2-3: Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl
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