Student Blog: Shailyn Cotten & Jessica Naftaly

UPDATE: You can now view the first episode of After Oil by clicking HERE.

Directing major Jessica Naftaly and screenwriting major Shailyn Cotten have teamed up for thesis year to bring you the first episode in their miniseries, After Oil

IMG_0313SHAILYN COTTEN: I’ve always wanted to write a miniseries about a young woman living in the Appalachians. As a child, I spent my free time walking the trails of the Catskill Mountains and tipping my toes off the banks of the Hudson River. There is a story in there, and I know it; a story about community, family, and survival.

When I came to my co­-director, Jessica Naftaly, with the concept, we quickly developed it into an extensive, gritty, dystopian miniseries about a teen girl named Briar, living in a small Pennsylvania town five years after a global oil crisis, and the steps she takes to preserve her community. We looked at our thesis year as an incredible opportunity to get this made. Now we’re setting out to shoot the pilot of our series, After Oil.

Briar 2JESSICA NAFTALY: Briar bands together the kids in her town to form the Pahokee Riders, a group of cyclists ferrying food deliveries to the locals in Pahokee, Pennsylvania. The pilot follows Briar when one of her younger Riders, Earl, goes missing. She must retrace his steps to find what became of him, and as she pursues his trail, she discovers that there is something more sinister behind his disappearance. Working with Shailyn to develop such a rich story like this, and with a character like Briar, has been one of the most incredible and fulfilling experiences for me.

13523939_1451404658207679_1008502558_oRepresentation is something we consistently talk about and developing After Oil was not only exciting for me as a filmmaker, but also as a consumer craving something better; something for everyone. Briar is a young, black, bisexual girl and she’s a leader in her community. Her “identity” as all of those things is a part of her, but it doesn’t define her. It’s our mission to create stories for the screen which feature members of the LGBTQ community and other minorities that can exist outside of their “identity.” In creating After Oil, we’re taking the steps to create the media we want to see on our screens, rather than waiting for the rest of the industry to catch up.

You can read more about After Oil and find out how to help get this made by visiting Shailyn and Jessica’s Indiegogo campaign, here.


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