BERLIN – Ocean City area native Emmi Shockley has partnered with aspiring and professional actors to debut a new short film, “We Regret to Inform You,” which will show at the Cannes Film Festival later this year.
Shockley, writer and director of the film, said the opportunity is part of a highly selective two-week training program in France, which she and crew member Nevin Kelly-Fair will attend. “We Regret to Inform You” will be one of 30 films produced by college students to show at the spring festival.
The short film follows a day in the life of a college student and the stream of consciousness that comes from the presence of his deceased friend. Shockley, 19, said the film explores moments of grief and gray areas between the living and dead.
“My peers and I were dealing with what was for most of us, our first close experience with death when I wrote ‘We Regret to Inform You,’” she said. “It was a shocking and confusing experience that rattled a lot of us to the deepest parts of our cores. This film is not exactly based on a true story, but based on the true emotions of grief I was experiencing and witnessing within my friends. I began writing about the experience as a way to wade through my own feelings of grief and process the worry that I had for the emotional well-being of my other friends.”
The film’s production, completed in one weekend, had no budget, Shockley said, and enlisted the efforts of actors Kyle Kelly, another Ocean City native, and David Alvarez, a Tony Award winner, to voluntarily portray the characters of Living and Deceased. She and other founding members of Fordham University’s Filmmaking Club, Kelly-Fair and Luke Momo, spearheaded the project.
“We used a combination of our own equipment and rental gear from the Visual Arts wing of our school,” Shockley said. “The actors were kind enough to work without compensation. I think the only money we spent was on metro cards and snacks.”
The film premiered at a Campus MovieFest event at Fordham last spring, where it received awards for Best Cinematography (Momo), Best Director (Shockley) and Best Actor (Kelly). According to Shockley, the short was also selected for a Jury Award, which qualified the film for the competition’s international event at the Terminus Film Festival in Atlanta. There the film was nominated for Best Cinematography and Shockley’s team was selected to apply for Campus MovieFest’s program at Cannes, of which they were accepted.
“After the excitement wore off, I did get very emotional due to the subject matter of ‘We Regret to Inform You,’” she said. “It brought up a lot of returning memories and mixed feelings about this sort of story being met with success. To be perfectly honest, that reaction remains the strongest. The third reaction when I met with my fellow crew members was, ‘How on earth are we going to pull this off?’”
The film’s acceptance into the program requires Shockley and Kelly-Fair to each pay $3,000 in tuition to participate. Since receiving the news, the duo has created an Indiegogo campaign to fund the trip.
“This highly selective program entails two weeks of education, challenge, networking and exposure,” she said.
“As two young and dedicated filmmakers, an experience of this magnitude during this time in our lives is invaluable.”
The cost of tuition will include professional training, full access to industry workshops, networking events, Cannes badges that allow access into film screenings and premieres, Gala red-carpet events, housing and daily transportation. Shockley said their film will also be played at the College MovieFest Marche screening and “Short Film Corner” at the festival.
As of Sunday, Shockley said she has received $800, but added that the crowdfunding campaign will be available until Feb. 22.
“I would love for potential donors to know that any sort of contribution no matter how small means a lot to us,” she said. “Principally, it shows me that you were able to connect to our artistic output, and that’s really the point.”
The actress’s voyage into directing is linked to years of film production and videography experience, she said.
After being cast as the love interest to Rad Miracle in the independent film “Ping Pong Summer,” which was set in Ocean City, Shockley formed Ombrophilous Films with her brother Tate Shockley and friends Christian Bruder and Quinn Lukas, with the guidance of Worcester Preparatory School teacher Nancy Raskauskas. Shockley is a 2015 Worcester Prep graduate.
The group has produced music videos and videography for the band Kyle Duke and the Brown Bag Boys and a short film entitled “Dockyard Chief”, which was an official selection of the Chesapeake Film Festival.
Independently, Shockley has also created two promotional shorts for JackRabbit Apparel as a first-semester student at Fordham.
Shockley, who is studying abroad in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts this semester, said she hopes to pursue acting and filmmaking through other short films, screenplays and television pilots.
“On a very long-term level, I hope to stand as a powerful and honest storyteller,” she said. “I believe that the pursuit of truth and social justice are the greatest responsibilities we have as artists. We have the platforms and abilities to do so. I hope to cultivate the sort of platform that enables my future collaborators and me to make an impact in that way.”
She said those interested in viewing “We Regret to Inform You” or her IndieGoGo campaign can visit indiegogo.com and search “We Regret To Inform You to CMF Cannes 2017.” The link is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/we-regret-to-inform-you-to-cmf-cannes-2017#/