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Lifetime’s ‘UnREAL’: Watch The Short Film That Inspired the Hit Lifetime Series

"UnREAL" got its start as "Sequin Raze," an award-winning short film starring Anna Camp and Ashley Williams that went from AFI to SXSW to Lifetime.

Jessica (Anna Camp) and Rebecca (Ashley Williams)

Jessica (Anna Camp) and Rebecca (Ashley Williams)

Sequin Raze

Great movies or TV series are oftentimes as good as they are because of the rich source material on which they were based. So, just in time for the Season 2 premiere of “UnREAL” tonight, Film School Shorts got the rights to exclusively premiere the original short, entitled “Sequin Raze,” from which the hit Lifetime drama came.

READ MORE: ‘UnREAL’ Star Constance Zimmer Is Not a Bitch, But She Doesn’t Think It’s a Dirty Word (Consider This)

After working in (and getting disenchanted by) the behind-the-scenes world of reality TV, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro wrote and directed “Sequin Raze” in 2012 for the American Film Institute Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women, which, per AFI’s website, is “a hands-on training program committed to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing.” The short, starring Ashley Williams and Anna Camp, won the “Honorable Mention” at SXSW’s Short Film Jury Awards, and in 2014 Lifetime ordered a pilot based on it, created by Shapiro and Marti Noxon.

Shapiro’s path not only showcases the clear appeal of the project, but also highlights the influence of AFI’s progressive program, and how a great short can make the difference when it comes to breaking into the business. “UnREAL” only seems to be getting better, with IndieWire’s TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller praising Season 2’s “delicious cruelty” and saying it’s “a series committed to depicting characters who engage in some awful human behavior, without losing sight of their inherent humanity.”

Check out the short “Sequin Raze” above or when it airs on PBS member stations nationwide in September and watch the Season 2 premiere of “UnREAL” tonight on Lifetime. For more on the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women, visit the official website.

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