Hillary Perry and filmmaker Hannah Perry Shepherd in “The Antique.” Photos courtesy of Hannah Perry Shepherd

Maine Mayhem is coming!

The annual showcase for the state’s best and brightest young filmmakers (or at least the best and brightest enrolled in Southern Maine Community College’s Communications and New Media program), the Maine Mayhem Film Festival comes to Portland’s Nickelodeon Cinema next month. (Thursday, May 11, to be precise.)

And while its name accurately hints at the frenzied work of student filmmakers shepherding what is often their first short film to successful completion, Maine Mayhem is traditionally a stellar roster of fresh, heartfelt and exciting work from some of Maine’s moviemakers of tomorrow.

Catching up with filmmaker, SMCC professor and Maine Mayhem maven Corey Norman will come next week, but to get Maine movie fans primed for this year’s festival, I talked with director (and producer, editor and actor) Hannah Perry Shepherd about her short film “The Antique,” which premieres, along with four other brand-new, Maine-made movies, at this year’s Maine Mayhem.

“The Maine Mayhem process is one of the hardest and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” said Shepherd, adding, “You find out a lot about yourself, both as a person and as a filmmaker.” For Augusta resident Shepherd, the Maine Mayhem whirlwind was at least familiar, as she’d previously acted in Maine filmmaker Mackenzie Bartlett’s 2016 Mayhem short “Alone Together.”

“I went to school at USM, where I’d done theater, and not film,” explained Shepherd, “so when I got that role, it was super fun and rewarding. A couple of years later, I’d been acting in other student films and decided I wanted to know more about filmmaking. So I enrolled in SMCC’s Media and Communications classes for the last two to three years, part time, until I took Corey’s class.”


Getting to make a film for Maine Mayhem is a months-long enterprise, in which the aspiring directors must pitch their project to Professor Norman and a panel of Maine film professionals, then assemble a cast and crew, complete a script, arrange locations, equipment, and all other necessary details, and have a finished film in time for the inviolable May deadline. It’s a grueling process, but one the industrious Shepherd was ready for.

“When it came time to pitch, I was very prepared,” the filmmaker said of her concept for “The Antique.” “I had most actors ready to go, a well-rounded idea of the art and design. The presentation was tailored to how the film would look, the color palette, the vibes of the film. I made a Pinterest board of visual things for the panel to look at, plus, it was also a story that was very important for me to tell personally.”

Filmmaker Hannah Perry Shepherd and her real-life twin sister, Hillary Perry, in “The Antique,” premiering at Maine Mayhem next month.

“The Antique” follows two sisters (Shepherd and her real-life twin, Hillary Perry) after the death of their mother. “They don’t know how they’ll afford to keep their mother’s home from foreclosure, so they take a road trip in search of an antique their mother had always told them was maybe worth something. Their mom was a fibber, someone who told grand stories that they always sort of rolled their eyes at, but when they find out that an ‘Antiques Roadshow’-type show is coming to their state, the sisters go on a quest to bring the antique and have it appraised.”

As Shepherd explains, “It’s very much about two sisters coming to terms with their complicated mother and their own relationship. It’s a little bit autobiographical, written with our relationship in mind, how we interact with each other. Hillary’s an actress, too, she’s my best friend, we’re very close, and she was excited to be a part of it. The story itself really means a lot to me.”

Part of the Maine Mayhem experience is turning a story into an actual film, a hands-on, nuts-and-bolts process that, in Shepherd’s case, involved a lot of reaching out to the Maine community. She raised the $1,800 budget for “The Antique” through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, and, in addition to assembling her cast and crew, took the old-fashioned approach to securing the film’s locations.

“I went in person and spoke to whoever I could find,” laughed Shepherd. “I gave them info about the film, said I was a student, showed them the Indiegogo page to prove that, yes, this is a film that’s being made. Then it was a lot of phone calls and emails. Filming in her hometown of Augusta and at a motel in Old Orchard Beach gives “The Antique” its uniquely Maine flavor, something the filmmaker hopes to continue showcasing in her future work.


“Maine’s amazing,” said Shepherd. “Everyone’s so accommodating, and there are so many cool locations and areas in Maine. We filmed at Augusta’s Buker Community Center and the Edgewater Motel in Old Orchard. There are so many old churches and retro-style buildings all around us in Maine. I’m excited to use all that.”

With regard to the “mayhem” aspect of this semester-long creative endeavor, Shepherd confesses that even her experience acting in a Maine Mayhem film before (she’s also been in several shorts for Maine’s own Damnationland festival) didn’t prepare her for the wide-ranging responsibilities of heading her own film.

“I’m taking on a bunch of roles,” explained the director-editor-writer-star. “Maybe too many. Still, it went great. I’d never acted with my sister before, and that was wonderful. I had great support in Corey and learned to ask for help from fellow classmates and other film people. The Maine film community is amazing and more than willing to help. Mainly, it’s about not being afraid to ask.”

With the Maine Mayhem premiere rapidly approaching, Shepherd is putting the final touches to “The Antique,” and notes that her time at SMCC has her excited to continue her career behind as well as in front of the camera. “I really enjoy being on a film set,” said Shepherd. “I want to do more, learn more.”

The Maine Mayhem Film Festival premieres at Portland’s Nickelodeon Cinema on Thursday, May 11, and the following day at Bridgton’s Magic Lantern Theater. Tickets are reportedly going fast; you can buy them for the Nick at patriotcinemas.com and for the Magic Lantern at magiclanternmovies.com. Find out more about “The Antique” at @theantiquefilm on Instagram.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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