Ever since Brittany Shyne can remember, she has been enchanted by the magic of movies.
Growing up, directors like Sofia Coppola and Wong Kar-wai fascinated Shyne. Whenever she came down with the flu, their movies would be the best remedy. The creative ways they told stories would later inspire Shyne to tell stories of her own.
Now a senior motion pictures student at Wright State, Shyne recently received national attention for her film Painted Lady. At the Fall 2013 Women’s Independent Film Festival in Santa Monica, California, Painted Lady won the awards for Best Film, Best Director, and tied for Best Actor in the Short Film category.
In the film, Shyne tells the story of a girl learning to embrace a changing body. Bri, the main character, experiences her first menstruation and is burdened with embarrassment and confusion. Eventually, with her mother’s help, Bri accepts the metamorphosis from a girl to a young woman.
“I think every girl has a coming-of-age story,” said Shyne. “We all have these types of decisive moments in our life that need to be shared. For Bri, it was her first period.”
According to Shyne, she has always wanted to use film as a vehicle to tackle race and feminist issues—topics that she believes to be often overlooked in the film industry.
“Menstruation is one of those things that isn’t talked about very much. It’s often tabooed or shamed in our society,” said Shyne.
In the film, Bri is portrayed as a whimsical and inquisitive girl. She has a fascination with life and, according to Shyne, was created to establish an intimate connection with the audience. Sumayah Chappelle, niece of comedian Dave Chappelle, was a perfect fit for this role.
“When Sumayah came to the casting call, we knew she was something special,” said Shyne. “Even though she was the youngest of the group that tried out for the role, she was the most eloquent and articulate.”
Painted Lady had its debut at the Big Lens Film Festival in August of 2013. Big Lens kicked off the FilmDayton Festival, a weekend-long celebration of cinema, by showcasing six films directed by Wright State Motion Picture students.
“When Painted Lady was first shown, I was watching it through other people’s eyes,” said Shyne. “I kept looking around at the audience the whole time. It was really a raw feeling to bear my work for everyone to see.”
Shyne said that once the premiere was over, a wave of pure euphoria washed over her. Painted Lady was a resounding hit. She said the premiere was the beginning of something new and different; it was time to start taking Painted Lady to other festivals.
Painted Lady was submitted to the Fall 2013 Women’s Independent Film Festival. Year after year, the festival aims to celebrate and give voice to the many diverse and unique perspectives offered by women in cinema from every part of the world. This mission greatly appealed to Shyne, so she had her heart set on this festival.
Shyne’s film was accepted into the festival, and just like at Big Lens, was received enormously well by the audience and critics. Painted Lady received the awards for Best Film and Best Director, and Sumayah tied for Best Actor—all in the Short Film category.
“I believe Painted Lady was received so well at the Women’s Independent Film Festival because it was about a topic you don’t often hear about,” said Shyne. “It didn’t have as high of a production value as some of the other movies—no plane crashes or explosions—just honesty, relatable characters, and intimacy.”
Shyne has since shown Painted Lady at Citizen Jane, another independent festival devoted to films created by women, and has begun submitting it to other festivals around the nation.
Upon her graduation from Wright State’s Motion Picture Program in the upcoming year, Shyne hopes to get into an experimental documentary graduate program.