Next in our profile series with the wonderful Women in Film & TV UK, , we sit down with Director and Writer, Katia Shannon.
It’s been a particularly busy month for Katia – she has been selected as a Netflix Diversity of Voices participant at the Banff Media Festival, and her latest short Standstill, has just been selected for the Fantasia Film Festival.
Tell us what you’re up to at the moment.
I’m polishing the script for Us & in Between, a film I’d love to make as soon as the situation allows. It’s about love and intimacy in old age so I need the actors to be able to touch each other! I’m also attending virtual film markets, developing a series and VR project and creating branded films with production company Flyer Films.
What’s been your best career moment so far?
Directing Standstill was pretty magical. You can spend a lot of time prepping for a film but only when you step on set does the chemistry you were hoping to create between actors, set, crew and story actually materialise and when it happens, it’s the best feeling.
Last film you saw in the cinema?
Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the cinema with one of my best friends. We were in Montreal, on a dark, snowy winter evening.
What did you think of the story?
Such precise, focused storytelling. I loved that Celine Sciamma rarely gave us an interior establishing shot, escaping the need to show us the ‘set’, which is a refreshing understatement for a period piece and serves the intensity of the story. I loved the way the film gives the maid a voice and through her, explores the grey zones of friendship with the other women of the house.
If you could work with anyone who would it be?
Screenwriter Liz Hannah or Carey Mulligan
When did you realise you wanted to work in film?
I had toyed with the idea before, but I committed to it when I was 15. I remember the moment. I was in the back seat of my friend’s car when her mum asked me the typical mum question about ‘what I wanted to do’. It just clicked that directing was the sum of all the aspects of life I’m most interested in. It’s writing, psychology, business, history, photography, movement, leadership, travelling, working alone and working in groups. I knew I could never get bored.
Summarise your style in three words.
Provocative, Heartfelt, Redeeming
How do you find your stories?
From observation or reading something that I can connect to my own lived experience. And then I develop the world of the story. However, I also love true stories. There’s somehow more potential for people to surprise you in real life, than people would accept in a purely invented story.
What are your top 3 films?
Pride and Prejudice
One thing you’d tell your 16-year-old self….
Striving for perfection shouldn’t stop you from making the first step.
Tell me something I may not know from reading your resume.
I grew up with my grandma living in an apartment upstairs. I saw her every day and we were very close. She would just pop down to ‘steal’ a banana/low-key check out what was happening downstairs/watch whatever film we were watching only to fall asleep as soon as there were action sequences. I learned from her that I could look forward to growing older.
Katia Shannon writes and directs heartfelt films of love and adversity. Her latest, Standstill, premiered at the 2019 Calgary International Film Festival and is currently touring the festival circuit. The atmospheric thriller was also nominated for the EDA award for Best Female-Directed Short at the Whistler Film Festival 2019.
Taking her first plunge in film at the age of 9, Katia wrote the winning script for a national contest run by CBC (Radio-Canada). She studied Film Production at the renowned Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema where she was recognised with an award for outstanding achievement in filmmaking and her student films were selected in festivals internationally.
After graduating, Katia worked on several Hollywood and broadcast titles, as film commissioner for the region of the Laurentides, and as a documentary editor with her work broadcast on Sky UK, Direct TV, Canal D and YesTV. She recently edited the feature documentary Mental States which won the award for Best Social Justice film at the 2019 Manhattan Film Festival.