AN INTERVIEW WITH Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, DIRECTOR


As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.

I am Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, and I have been “behind the camera” for 12 years now.

I began working as a 1st Assistant Director on an indie film here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Since that time I have held many positions: Producer, writer, director, PA, craft services, you name it!

I also began working on television shows, music videos, documentaries, commercials, etc. The name of the game with

indie productions is being able to be very well versed in many areas. It ensures that you continue to work.

It also makes you a viable member of a small team. I love watching a great story evolve from paper to closing credits.


Let us know why you became a director?

Prior to becoming a director and producer of film, I spent nearly 20 years working as a director and producer of live theater.

I greatly enjoyed the reciprocated energy between the audience and the actors on stage. For many years, I WAS one of those actors.

I knew the magic of great storytelling and how it positively affected people who experienced it. But people would often say to me,

“I loved your show. I wish I could see it over and over again.” Or, “I missed your show, did you all make a video of it?”

In both cases I realized that I had a growing desire to share these stories on a greater level. I wanted to produce and

direct works of art that could be viewed over and over again and shared with whomever needed it.

Give us some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far…about your experience.

The first film that I wrote, directed, and produced and first considered to be MY film was called Jazz Lessons.

I had no clue as to what all was involved in making a movie on my own. But I have always been a very determined person and

this venture was no different. I aimed high hiring a SAG actress and all of the paperwork that goes along with that.

There were about 40 actors, 7 crew members, 7 locations, and 8 days of shooting. To top it all off…I also was the star of the movie.

Determined is the adjective best used to describe me. However, sensible has quickly become my new adjective.

I still wear many hats during the production process, but I work a lot smarter instead of harder. I have produced more than

a dozen film projects since that one, and Empty Nest is proof that I have honestly learned a lot from the amazing other filmmakers

with whom I have worked. I have been fortunate enough to have some real-world experiences on sets with a variety of budgets and resources.

I believe that no matter how old you are, you never stop learning. So I anxiously await all the new experiences that are to come.


What are the films and/or people that have had an impact on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Gosh…how to narrow it down. The three films that most impacted my life as a child were Imitation of Life, Beaches,

and The NeverEnding Story. Collectively they taught me about racism, socialism, classism, friendship, dreams, loyalty, pride,

and the art of using a story to connect one person in your audience with everyone else. Jewell Kelly,

my high school choir teacher taught me about the value of hard work, especially when things seem out of my league.

Rudy Eastman, my mentor and founder of Jubilee Theater in Ft. Worth, taught me that you can begin with nothing and end up with an empire.

My friend and fellow filmmaker, Bill Hass (who gave me my first official job behind the camera) taught me that

I could apply raw talent and a skillset acquired in another artistic medium, and apply them to the art of filmmaking.

My producer and friend, Charles W. Bush taught me that with the right story and the right team and the right amount of drive,

success will be imminent. My mother, Jo Ann Goodspeed, taught me that I am enough. These were just a few of the many people

in my personal and professional life that impacted my life, and ultimately led me to becoming a filmmaker.


You have made a short drama film. Is it your first favorite genre or would you like to make different film genres or even documentaries?

Romantic comedy is actually my favorite genre to watch and produce. I love dramas as well, but the ability to laugh is important to me. I have been fortunate to be a producer on a few documentaries. I love the raw honesty of that genre. The people featured are telling their real stories from their real perspectives. I think my main goal in filmmaking is to tell stories that most every human can identify with on some level or another. With that thought in mind, I am open to making many kinds of genres of films. I just want my work to speak to the human experience.


Your film “Empty Nest” was officially selected in the "American Golden Picture International Film Festival". What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?

The biggest challenge was getting everyone to clearly understand the way in which I wanted this story to be told. Music is the universal language. Music speaks when words cannot. I wanted to create a piece or work that used music to tell the story and the script to become the underscoring. It was difficult to explain, but even more difficult to pull off. Once everyone had an opportunity to actually dig in and dissect the piece the task became much easier. Budget was the second biggest challenge. As with most indie films, budgets are strained. The budget for this film was nonexistent. I had a story I wanted to tell, and shelving it was not an option. We produced it on a shoestring budget funded mostly from the personal budgets of me and Executive Producer Charles W. Bush. It was meant to be…and so it was!

Let us know more about your experience in this film.

This is a simple answer. It is MY story. In 2019, my world flipped upside down when (against my planned schedule)

both of my children left home, and my long-term relationship ended. For the first time in my life I realized that

the “empty nest syndrome” was a real thing. Instead of being crushed by the emotions that weighed so heavily on me daily,

I chose to write a story. My experience was watching my story come to life and hoping that it served as a source of healing for others.

It was a great experience.


As a filmmaker, why you decided to make “Empty Nest”?

Because I knew there was some women out there who had lost their family under whatever set of circumstances, sat alone and felt helpless,

and wondered if they would ever bounce back. I wanted to give them and the people who love them an opportunity to have

a shared experience with the mother in Empty Nest, and hopefully permission to move on.


For you, what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?

Honestly?? Something that I already knew, but simply chose to go a different direction. The biggest lesson learned was a simple one…

never dismiss any take as “mos”. Get clean audio on EVERYTHING! *chuckling*

What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?

Three things keep me inspired to continue making films. The feeling of completion I get when I can bring it all together

from a mere idea in the writer’s head to the closing credits. The pure enjoyment I get from watching all of the creative

forces collide in pre, post, and on the set itself. The gratification I get when I see an audience really receive the piece well,

and the feedback that comes as a result of that experience.


What are your filmmaking goals?

Ultimately, I would like to see my films being shown in theaters all over the world. I would like to be nominated, and dare I say win,

some major awards for my work. Not because I need the validation or ego stroking. But because I consider it to be honorable

for a group of my peers to acknowledge the work that my production team and I have done. It is the highest honor. Mostly,

I would like to be able to continue to tell my story and the stories of those who may not have a platform from which to speak.

I could do that forever!


What is your next project?

I am currently in production for a reality show that I am co-writer, Executive Producer, and co-director of with my dear friend, Jennifer PK.

It is about two ladies who realize they have missed out on a lot in life and set out to make it right. The challenges are hilarious…

and that is all I can say for now. I am also in pre-production for my children’s television show

Mrs. Dipsworth and Friends which will air on Roku this month and hopefully get funded for a second season. Keep your eyes peeled…

I’m using the free time in my own empty nest to do somethings I haven’t had time to do before.


GOOD LUCK Sheran


Sheran's Links:


IMdb:

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2998245/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_1


Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/SheranGoodspeedKeyton/


Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/divadfw/


Twitter:

https://twitter.com/sherankeytons

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