Interview with

Michelle Shaay

Writer/Producer/Star of

Michelle Shaay

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

After watching so much civil unrest occur during the COVID-19 pandemic like racial and social injustice, the idea of trying to find inner peace seemed doable. However, inner peace can be elusive when many loose ends are left untied and old wounds remain unhealed. The idea of incorporating birdwatching as Dan Stone’s hobby, who is the other main and essential character in the short, was sparked by an ugly, recent and unfortunate exchange of strangers in a public park. A day of enjoying a hobby was quickly overshadowed by ill will. The simple but audacious idea of having to go outside of your main dwelling or surrounding area to rid yourself of mistreatment, personal woes, or just to reconnect with greenspace or new scenery is so relatable on many levels. The desire to escape, get away for just a little while is appealing to us. Sometimes we all need an epiphany too and it can reveal itself to us in the most unexpected manner. I am a writer and actress. This allows me to understand visually how I want my story to impact an audience. My film is based on my written short story penned with the same name, ‘The Birdwatcher’. The follow up story entitled “Stone Unturned: Dan’, I also written is an intense backstory. There are definite plans to develop yet another visual concept also known as another short film in the near future.

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

The challenges are what has made this whole experience one that I am truly thankful for and really humbled by. The surreal thought of typing on a calendar month before my birthday, scout locations, develop a screenplay, cast Dan Stone, choose a director, purchase props, fund the project… all by myself, blows my mind literally. I actually had difficulty pinning down the chosen director days right before the scheduled shoot as his schedule was entirely full. I actually had not confirmed with Director Jibril Haynes until the evening before we filmed ‘The Birdwatcher’ and drafted the service agreement both electronically and written the same wired evening. My birthday week was also my debut as an executive producer. Casting Dan Stone wasn’t easy. Todd Anthony, an acting coach, actor, entrepreneur, was Busy but found a way to commit, appear, and conquer the character.

How has the short film been received?

I could not have even fathomed the great response we have received from the day it was released until now. This was such a gratifying moment in my existence. I managed to set an expectation, the goal, and exceed it by just being sincere and passionate about seeing this project through to the end. I encountered some rejection, and some disappointment early on in the process but when it’s meant to be, everything in this universe moves accordingly and with purpose. I wish to thank everyone who watched and especially those who took it even further and bought our merchandise,

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, as previously mentioned, the follow up to ‘The Birdwatcher’ is being developed. There has not been a specific time established yet for ‘Stone Unturned: Dan’ to be completed and released.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

I would say be prepared for the process. The concept you have written on paper can easily change, and that’s totally okay. Using creative license in a responsible but unexpected way always seems to produce some of the greatest scene and film moments. Don’t be afraid to ask the opinion of your creative team ever. It’s everyone’s project and a different perspective or angle literally can enhance the story both technically and aesthetically. Fluid creativity can only help extend imaginary boundaries of the project. Playbacks are golden opportunities to assess and adjust your scenes.

Recently Featured

Interview with

Michelle Shaay

Writer/Producer/Star of

Michelle Shaay

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

After watching so much civil unrest occur during the COVID-19 pandemic like racial and social injustice, the idea of trying to find inner peace seemed doable. However, inner peace can be elusive when many loose ends are left untied and old wounds remain unhealed. The idea of incorporating birdwatching as Dan Stone’s hobby, who is the other main and essential character in the short, was sparked by an ugly, recent and unfortunate exchange of strangers in a public park. A day of enjoying a hobby was quickly overshadowed by ill will. The simple but audacious idea of having to go outside of your main dwelling or surrounding area to rid yourself of mistreatment, personal woes, or just to reconnect with greenspace or new scenery is so relatable on many levels. The desire to escape, get away for just a little while is appealing to us. Sometimes we all need an epiphany too and it can reveal itself to us in the most unexpected manner. I am a writer and actress. This allows me to understand visually how I want my story to impact an audience. My film is based on my written short story penned with the same name, ‘The Birdwatcher’. The follow up story entitled “Stone Unturned: Dan’, I also written is an intense backstory. There are definite plans to develop yet another visual concept also known as another short film in the near future.

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

The challenges are what has made this whole experience one that I am truly thankful for and really humbled by. The surreal thought of typing on a calendar month before my birthday, scout locations, develop a screenplay, cast Dan Stone, choose a director, purchase props, fund the project… all by myself, blows my mind literally. I actually had difficulty pinning down the chosen director days right before the scheduled shoot as his schedule was entirely full. I actually had not confirmed with Director Jibril Haynes until the evening before we filmed ‘The Birdwatcher’ and drafted the service agreement both electronically and written the same wired evening. My birthday week was also my debut as an executive producer. Casting Dan Stone wasn’t easy. Todd Anthony, an acting coach, actor, entrepreneur, was Busy but found a way to commit, appear, and conquer the character.

How has the short film been received?

I could not have even fathomed the great response we have received from the day it was released until now. This was such a gratifying moment in my existence. I managed to set an expectation, the goal, and exceed it by just being sincere and passionate about seeing this project through to the end. I encountered some rejection, and some disappointment early on in the process but when it’s meant to be, everything in this universe moves accordingly and with purpose. I wish to thank everyone who watched and especially those who took it even further and bought our merchandise,

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, as previously mentioned, the follow up to ‘The Birdwatcher’ is being developed. There has not been a specific time established yet for ‘Stone Unturned: Dan’ to be completed and released.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

I would say be prepared for the process. The concept you have written on paper can easily change, and that’s totally okay. Using creative license in a responsible but unexpected way always seems to produce some of the greatest scene and film moments. Don’t be afraid to ask the opinion of your creative team ever. It’s everyone’s project and a different perspective or angle literally can enhance the story both technically and aesthetically. Fluid creativity can only help extend imaginary boundaries of the project. Playbacks are golden opportunities to assess and adjust your scenes.

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