The New Jersey native was just 15 when she came up with the idea for what would become her feature directorial debut, a modern high school-set take on Arthur Miller’s classic play “The Crucible.” Seven years later her ambitious idea, Shephard debuted the film at Tribeca, one that she not only stars in, but also wrote, directed, edited and produced. At 22, she’s reached a benchmark that usually takes most filmmakers a few more years of work.
The film follows Shephard as high school outcast Abigail Grey, who returns to high school after a mysterious incident the year before, only to form a taboo bond with her new drama teacher (Chris Messina). As their relationship blossoms in very unexpected ways, Abigail’s nemesis Melissa (Nadia Alexander) observes from afar, continually threatening to bust the entire situation wide open (a witch hunt? maybe).
“One of our strategies is to work with emerging filmmakers,” said Ben Feingold, Chief Executive of Samuel Goldwyn Films, in an official statement. “Quinn not only fits the bill, but has written, produced, directed, and starred in an extraordinarily impressive first feature film. She is the real deal, and I believe she will become a major talent in the industry.”
“’Blame’ is the result of years of hard work — is so special and personal to my mom and I, and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to share it with a wider audience through Samuel Goldywn Films. I feel the message of the film is so important, both for its adult audience and for a younger generation of movie- goers,” added Shephard.
When IndieWire spoke to Shephard earlier this year, she told us, “It’s people’s personal decision whether they are ready to handle an extremely opinionated 20-year-old director or not. I think that were definitely a lot of people that were that I have worked with who never even acknowledged it or questioned me…Of course you encounter people who don’t [respect you] and are perturbed by it, but that’s not my problem. I just won’t work with them again.”
She added, “If people can’t see that the words coming out of your mouth are as intelligent and well-spoken and opinionated as any other director, if they can’t just put your age and gender aside and value that, then they’re not really people I want to work with.”
The film is slated to release in theaters, on demand, and digital this winter.