On this day in 2017 the film Blame was released. A teenage psychological drama about a student’s intense admiration for her drama teacher, this film was the directorial debut of Quinn Shephard. Impressively, Quinn wrote, directed, and starred in this film, while also funding its production with a part of her college fund, at just twenty years old. Blame was only one significant landmark in Quinn’s impressive career.
Quinn Shephard is an American filmmaker and actor. Born in New Jersey in 1995, Quinn’s career in the arts started very early in life; it’s no wonder she has so many accomplishments under her belt at such a young age. Quinn’s film debut was in 2001, when she was five years old: in Harrison’s Flowers, she played the daughter of a photojournalist, Harrison, who goes missing. Though small, the role was challenging, and Quinn displayed depth and soul in her role despite being only five years old.
Then in 2006, Quinn starred in the Christmas comedy Unaccompanied Minors. This film is about two siblings who, stuck at an airport on Christmas Eve, are sent to the unaccompanied Minors room where they meet a quirky crew of kids, including tomboy Donna Malone, played by Quinn. Donna is surly and sarcastic, and nine-year-old Quinn embodied these traits with impressive aptitude. Quinn and her co-stars, including Tyler James Williams and Gia Mantegna, were nominated for Best Young Ensemble in a Featured Film at the 29th Young Artist Awards for this film.
Over the next decade or so, Quinn appeared in two more films — including the comedy Assasination of a Young President (2008) and the horror film Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016). She also nabbed two recurring roles in television series: Morgan Sanders in the CBS thriller Hostages in 2013, and Claire Mahoney in Person of Interest from 2014-2015.
By 2017, Quinn evidently had enough film experience under her belt for her directorial debut. She developed the script for Blame for several years. In 2015, Quinn’s financing for the film fell through, and she used money from her college fund to produce it herself. Blame explores the complex dynamics of a high school theater troupe as one student, who has just been released from a psych ward, develops an obsession with their drama teacher that sets off a chain of events that lead to a psychological and emotional unraveling within the group.
With Blame, Quinn became the youngest female director to have a film screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Quinn’s tenacity in taking on the writing and directing, starring in and even producing of the film, as well as its success as a heartfelt and intriguing story, make Blame an overall extremely impressive accomplishment.
In 2018, Quinn played the complex character Coley Taylor in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Popular, pretty, and religious, Coley also struggles with her attraction to the film’s central character, Cameron. Through Coley, Quinn was able to embody incredible nuance as both a hero and a villain of the film. The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, no doubt in part due to Quinn’s contribution.
In 2022, Quinn directed Not Okay, a Netflix film which found sweeping success among Gen-Z young adults. The film is a satirical comedy-drama starring Zoey Deutch, who brilliantly portrays a young woman who, desperate for internet stardom, pretends to be a survivor of a bombing in Paris. Not Okay is an exploration of modern-day internet and influencer culture that is both intensely eye-opening and laugh-out-loud hilarious at the same time.
Not Okay perfectly demonstrates what might make Quinn so talented, and such a sweeping success so early in life: she is both an old soul and perfectly in touch with her generation. Whether it is through her acting performances or her own films, Quinn’s art opens our eyes to the deeply complex world of the modern young person.
© Julia Lasker (1/5/2024) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Farah Elattar’s review of Blame here.
Watch Blame here.
Watch Not Okay here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY (2022), directed by Quinn Shephard. Photo Credit: © Searchlight Pictures / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2J1E5F7
Bottom photo: Film director Quinn Shephard at arrivals for THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST film premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Eccles Theater, Park City, Utah on January 22, 2018. Photo Credit: JA / Everett Collection / Alamy Live News. Image ID: M0H174