*** Get to know Connor Sandheinrich – director of the short film UNSAFE SPACES ***
The Stylist Short Cuts Competition ✂️– our most recent competition which aimed at discovering, celebrating and promoting female filmmakers within the Horror film industry - saw the talented Connor Sandheinrich taking home the Best Short Film Award 🏆 with UNSAFE SPACES. Not only did she win the Best Short Film Award, but her short was also praised by the team behind The Stylist (who supported the competition) for its overall quality and also won the Best Editing Award 🏆, thanks to her collaboration with Nathan Shapiro.
Before you discover (or rediscover) UNSAFE SPACES on ARROW in the UK, US and Canada, Connor is here to share a bit more about her background as a filmmaker and how she came up with the idea behind UNSAFE SPACES!
Hi Connor, congratulations again on your win and thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Could you tell us a bit about how you started your filmmaking journey?
Connor Sandheinrich: As a young teenager growing up in the small town of Waterloo, Illinois finding things to keep us entertained during the summer was a daily feat. We were too far from a shopping center and too young for driver's licenses. One amenity my hometown did have was a movie theater, and oh did we use it. Those summers are where my fascination for films first started. I have an uncle who works in the film industry in Los Angeles, California, and his lifestyle seemed so glamorous and so unfamiliar to any job I’d ever heard of before. So when I announced after my high school graduation that I wanted to study Film Production, it was a shock to most. I headed to Kansas City, Missouri and shortly after to Lawrence, Kansas to attend the University of Kansas where I received my B.A. in Film and Media Production in December of 2020. During my time at KU, I was able to work with countless filmmakers from all over, furthering my love for filmmaking. When the COVID pandemic hit, it took the production industry down hard and we were all very worried for our futures. Oddly enough, it left me in the same position from when I was a teen, sitting around with a whole bunch of nothing to do. My close group of film school friends got together and started (safely) making content of all types, music videos, spec ads, and short films. I usually specialize in producing, never did I think I would be writing and directing my own shorts but I am very happy I took that leap.
How did you come up with the idea for your short and how Nathan Shapiro come on board with this project?
Nathan Shapiro, the editor for Unsafe Spaces, has been involved with this project from the very beginning. He was a great friend of mine throughout college and a brilliant writer/director, who I admire greatly. After completing his feature film (which is currently in post-production) we were out for celebratory drinks and the idea for Unsafe Spaces was born. After he graduated and moved out of state, he encouraged me to continue on with the idea, so I began writing. Since Nathan couldn't be on set, it was only right that I let him finish out the project. I brought him on as the editor, where he really brought the vision to light, creating the perfect amount of tension you feel while watching the short.
Horrors, thrillers, and dramas have done a more than ample job of showing all the “big” things women should be afraid of. Throughout these genres there has never been a shortage of violence against women. As a woman, I was more interested in the small things that most men* don’t even stop to think about. I wanted to bring attention to all the micro-motions women take every single day to ensure their own safety. At various times, I can remember my guy friends asking me why I always check the backseat of my car before getting in, why girls always go to the bathroom together, why we don’t run at night. It was astonishing that behaviors that have always felt second nature to me, were completely foreign to others. I wanted Unsafe Spaces to showcase the extra precautions we take in isolated moments; to show how a mundane task like walking to your car, turns into a situation of survival.
*I do believe there are more genders outside the gender binary.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
Life after graduation has been wildly busy. I do have a script floating around for another short I’d like to direct in the near future, just waiting for the right time to kick it off. In the meantime, I continue to work in the media production industry in Kansas City and I always have projects in the works!
Any final mentions you’d like to share?
This short was filmed during the pandemic, so safety was our biggest concern. I cannot thank my cast and crew enough. We were the definition of a skeleton crew, with five crew members and three actors on set. Everyone was running multiple jobs and that is never easy. Winning the Short Cuts competition and being recognized by ARROW really helped solidify the fact that you don’t always need a big budget and a big crew to make your art worthwhile. Thank you to all involved with the making of Unsafe Spaces, the panel of the Short Cuts Competition and to ARROW for this truly amazing opportunity.
UNSAFE SPACES is streaming on ARROW now.
For those of you keen to keep up with Connor Sandheinrich and Nathan Shapiro’s upcoming projects, here are the links to stay up to date: