Catherine Sweeney wants to make her first fiction feature film, a zombie romantic comedy, but to do so; she must find people to finance her and help produce the film. After everyone she meets in the industry is telling her to put a speaking dog in her film as it will sell it like crazy. After first resisting this idea, she eventually gives in, losing her integrity and possibly her sanity in the process. This film about the plight of the filmmaker, particularly of the female horror filmmaker, is written and directed by Kate Shenton whose first feature film this is. The lead she creates here feels like a woman some of have met in the industry, possibly a little bit or a lot of Shenton herself as she has to have seen a lot of what Sweeney sees in her own career.
She builds a film where the lead character is someone the viewer can identify with, an artist trying to keep her vision but also needing to pay her rent and survive, so she does what she must to get her film off the ground and get to the point where she can pay her bills with her passion. This plight being one that many can identify with these days, artist or not, is what makes the movie what it is. It’s a funny look at life as an adult trying to be themselves, get a career, and do something that makes them happy. This lead character is well written and rings true. This lead is played by actress Nic Lamont who echoes a lot of Shenton’s career including shorts and a documentary she has made in the past being used as Catherine’s work in the film.
This character being closely written by the film’s director, Lamont has the hard job of bringing it to the screen and making believable without making her seem like a caricature. She shows the right about of humanity until the film takes a turn where her sanity may be going and she follows suit in her performance. In the supporting roles, Adam Rhys-Davies as Nathan the producer and Simeon Willis as Derek play the creeps who prey on new filmmakers and try to get theirs without giving anything in return. The two of them come off rightfully skeevy and creepy in each their own way. The rest of the cast including David Wayman as the zombie love interest and man in Catherine’s dreams and Loren O’Brien as Natasha give good performances adding to the leads’ and bringing the whole thing to a level of insanity at points that just creates more craziness surrounding Catherine. Their performances are a bit over the top at times, but they work in context.
The film other aspects work quite well too, the music by Eric Elick, the cinematography by Jack-Lewis Harvey, the special effects by Megan Biffin and Dave Darko, and the editing by Kate Shenton to name a few all come together to create a film with an energy that is palpable and is easy to watch even though some scenes are not easy scenes.
Egomaniac is an observation film as much as it is fiction about what it is like to be a female and a struggling filmmaker in a world that is still mostly dominated by males. The plight of Catherine trying to make her film and keep her sanity and integrity is quite reminiscent of the plight many go through while trying to get their careers and passions off the ground. The added aspect of the director being a filmmaker herself brings the whole thing home even more.
Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival had its first edition on October 6th through October 9th, 2016.