Featured Member: Sheridan O’Donnell

SheridanCongratulations to Sheridan on landing #1 for the belVita project! Read on to learn about what makes Sheridan tick and connect with him via:

1. Bio:
My name’s Sheridan O’Donnell, and I’m a writer and director based in Albuquerque, NM. I got into filmmaking after switching my major from Chemical Engineering at the end of my first year of college. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. I like (in no particular order) a good cup of coffee, my fiancé, 70’s rock and roll, New Hollywood cinema, my siblings, and my two miniature schnauzers, Jack and Walter.

2. What brought you to the Zooppa community? 
Luck and chance, mostly, but what’s kept me here is the incredible opportunities and constant support for filmmakers.

3. What do you like most about crowdsourced film contests? 
That it gives young and budding filmmakers in any place of the world a chance to create branded content (and make some money while they’re at it!) I think in the past these opportunities were reserved solely for people who lived in big metropolises, but the internet and places like Zooppa are changing the paradigm and I’m just happy and grateful to be around for the revolution.

4. Name 3 films/directors that have influenced your work. 
Films: “Taxi Driver”, “Hunger”, “The Godfather”
Honorable Mentions: “Apocalypse Now”, “Jaws”, “Mean Streets”, “The Seventh Seal”, “The Apartment”

Directors: Scorsese, Coppola, Kubrick, as well as Lumet, Bergman, McQueen, Altman, Aronofsky, Fincher, Spielberg, Linklater, and so, so many more (sorry for the list, I just couldn’t do three).

5. Where do/did you go to school? How has your education influenced your filmmaking? 
I went to school at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was a very new program, so there wasn’t a system or structure in place really. On one end it was frustrating, and yet on another end it really gave a lot of freedom to those who really wanted it. It forced you to be resourceful and do-it-yourself to make your films, so I ended up coming out of college knowing no one was going to give it to me, which I think is very true of this industry. It starts and ends with you.

6. What is your favorite genre of film to create? 
The genre can be anything, as long as there’s a great story there. Usually I’ll make something heavy, like my latest short film “Wolff’s Law”, which was loosely based on my experiences in being bullied when I was younger, and then I’ll want to do something very different, like a comedy. One of the perks of storytelling and filmmaking is you don’t have to be monogamous like you often have to be in other aspects of life.

7. Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon? 
Hanging out with my fiancé or reading a screenplay with some coffee or tea.

8. Choose 5 words to describe your art. 
I’m really trying to get better at not talking about my work (he writes as he ironically is doing just that). To quote Mark Duplass (another hero of mine): too much self-analysis leads to self-destruction. There’s what I intend it to be, but at a certain point the audience is the final author. Most of all I hope the audience comes away feeling it was sincere. So in one word, “sincere”.

9. What projects are you currently working on? 
I’m taking my latest short film “Wolff’s Law” starring Brendan Meyer (“Fear the Walking Dead”, “The Guest”) around on its festival run (we’re premiering at Brussels Shorts in Belgium!), as well as finishing editing my next short called “Slow Wallet”, a comedy starring Matt Page and Alex Knight (who star in the web series “Enter the Dojo”). I also just finished writing another short which I plan on making with an actress friend of mine very soon. Again, it’s loosely based on my personal experiences–this time being my confrontations with alcoholism in my family. I’m also going to be directing some episodes for a web series shooting here in Albuquerque called “Thank You, 5”. All the while hopefully writing my first feature film, which is the ultimate goal for me.

10. What drew you to participate in this campaign? i.e. – did the brief catch your attention, the prize money, the
love for the brand? 

Honestly, it was just timing, haha. It was the one filmmaking contest that was running when I had an opening to shoot something for Zooppa. My first Zooppa submission was essentially a documentary so it was fun to do something more polished and in the style of a commercial. We (the cast and crew) had such a good time making this spot, and we knew the day we wrapped shooting that there was something special about it compared to other shoots.

11. What is one piece of winning advice you would give to your fellow Zooppa community members? 
Again, I really don’t like giving advice considering I’m still learning so much myself, but a piece of advice by Stanley Kubrick I’ve always followed is “be daring and sincere”. That sums up the whole of my intentions for filmmaking pretty succinctly. That and just be passionate. If you don’t love it, no one else can. This is one of those rare places in life where you can do exactly what you want, so don’t let anything or other people get in the way of what really moves you.

12. 10 years from now where will we see you and your films? 
If I’m still making the movies I want to make and telling my stories, then I’m happy. Reputation, attention, accolades, whether the films are big or small, I think that’s all pretty extraneous to just doing what you love.


Jasmine Moore

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