Tag Archives: The Ditch

The Ditch – World Premiere!!!

9 Dec

Sheena and Henry


Amazing news!! My short film The Ditch has got its world premiere screening! On 14th January at The Hackney Picturehouse as part of the wonderful London Short Film Festival!!

The Ditch will be screened at an event called ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ alongside other short films which I am very excited to watch!

Full details of the screening are here.

What a brilliant start to 2016 this is going to be!!




The Ditch… (take 2)

16 May

The Ditch poster

Next weekend I am making a film! It is the postponed and rescheduled shoot of my short horror film The Ditch.

We shot the first half of the film in a forest in Dorking in September 2012. Directing a horror film was literally a dream come true for me and I wrote about it here.

The Ditch

After our first lot of shooting we ran a crowdfunding campaign and thanks to lots of truly amazing people we reached our goal!

So we were all set for our second half of shooting which was scheduled for September 2013 – the film is set in a forest so we had to shoot at the same time each year so that the leaves looked the same… Unfortunately in the week before the shoot we had to cancel because of really bad weather… I wrote about how completely gutted I was about that here.

However! I am a firm believer that sometimes things really do happen for a reason. And our shoot getting cancelled in September gave me a lot of time to really think about the story, where it was going and what it was saying…

I had two choices :

1. Wait until the following September and shoot the rest of the film – but plan a contingency shoot weekend incase the weather was terrible again.

2. Rewrite the script and set it in a location not weather dependent.

I chose 2. I felt really frustrated that an entire year had gone by and we still hadn’t finished the film. I did not want to find myself in that position again and I really didn’t want to have to wait another year..

Me and The Ditch

We shot a lot of the really key moments of The Ditch in the first shoot, so I could really see how this footage could be worked into a new script as kind of ‘flashback’ sequences. For me The Ditch is about guilt, consequences and what if’s.. I discovered that the feelings and themes I wanted to evoke in an audience could happen within a story set in a forest or could happen equally well in a story set in a hotel room..

So thats what I did. I set the film in a hotel room. And I am insanely proud of the script and excited to direct it and see it coming to life in front of my eyes next weekend!

Sheena Holliday, Director



I Love Lists! (5 awesome screenwriting blog posts)

9 May


Recently I have been doing a lot of writing – finishing off drafts of my short horror film The Ditch (shooting in a couple of weeks!!) And also working on a new project- an art aouse/thriller feature..

As part of my writing process I will often do a lot of reading too – I love reading the blogs of other writers to get tips and insight!

So I thought I would share 5 awesome screenwriting blog posts that have inspired me this week!

* 10 writing tips from Joss Whedon

* 25 screenwriting tips from David Bowie! Totally awesome!

* Scripts are all about emotions not words…

* How to write a killer script from the fabulous Jane Goldman

* And finally, I refer to this post over and over again, I love James Moran!

Happy reading! : )


I Love Lists! (The last 10 films I’ve watched)

25 Apr

I have recently been inspired by reading film review posts by Robin, a young person who is part of the filmmaking workshops I run for Studio Film School. He has started doing a monthly round up of the films he has watched and they are great fun! (Check out January, February and March – seriously do it – he’s a great writer!)

So I decided I wanted to write about the films I’ve watched too! So here goes…

 Batman poster

1. Batman

Unbelievably I have never watched this film until recently. Dan R decided to rectify that and lent me the dvd – and I LOVED it!! It’s a Tim Burton film for goodness sake! I just love how it balances real sinister darkness with cartoon comic book silliness. Jack Nicholson is brilliant as the Joker. Awesome stuff. I’m sure everyone in the world has already watched this film but if not do so NOW!

Batman Returns poster

2. Batman Returns

Then of course I immediately wanted to watch the sequel! Controversially I might like this one better than the first – I love the darkness and the opening was very Tim Burton. I love all the evil circus people, and Danny DeVito is amazing as the Penguin – I think it’s appalling that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for that role! He was so, so good!

Remember Me poster

3. Remember me

This came through on Love Film and I can’t remember why I put it on my list – I’m not at all interested in Robert Pattinson! It was quite a good film but the characters were SO brooding and miserable!! Gah!! It also had Pierce Brosnan in it – weird casting. I didn’t enjoy the ending at all – it turned into a terrible disaster that had happened in real life – and to me it just felt tagged on the end, and a lazy way to get emotion from the audience.

Phenomenon poster

4. Phenomenon

Watched this when I was at home for Easter. I love John Travolta! I think he’s my favourite male-person ever! This film was a lot better than I thought it was going to be – it was actually a really sweet and sad story.


5. Psycho

I’ve been re watching some Hitchcock films as inspiration for the short horror film I’m shooting in a month. Wanted to immerse myself in ‘The Master of Suspense’

Rear Window poster

6. Rear Window

This film is so tense and suspenseful that I almost can’t take it!!

Mega Piranha poster

7. Mega Piranha

I’m going through a monster movie phase at the moment. And it turns out that I really like BAD monster movies!! Mega Piranha is TERRIBLE! The acting, the characters, the storyline, the CGI all AWFUL!! And I don’t think the filmmakers remembered to do a sound mix because it is up and down throughout the whole film.. But I loved watching it!! It’s definitely so bad it’s good! And it’s got Tiffany in it from the 80’s…

Troll 2 poster

8. Troll 2

WATCH THIS FILM!!! Just watch it.

Godzilla poster

9. Godzilla

The original and the best.

Octopus 2 poster

10. Octopus 2

This got slated in reviews but I actually really like this film. The premise is ludicrous but I still think it’s pretty good. Also it has some really great views of New York.

Sheena x


All images from imdb



G u t t e d

13 Sep


I was supposed to be shooting my horror film The Ditch this weekend…

But we have had to postpone the shoot because of bad weather…

The Ditch is set in a forest and therefore very dependant on the weather. We were so lucky last year, but unfortunately this year it was not to be.

We had a really tough decision to make  this week. Postponing the shoot was the most sensible thing to do to. I know weather forecasts can be wrong, but as it stands the weather looks terrible in Dorking this weekend. Not just wet and miserable but also unsafe to be in a forest because of the winds.

We are indie filmmakers making a low-budget film. We have enough money for two days of shooting at the location. We can’t afford another trip back there. If we did go this weekend that would be it – our only chance. If we went and it rained and we couldn’t shoot then we would have spent all of our money  that would be it – no film. Well, half a film.  So it is sensible to postpone and replan the shoot. Plus it means that I get some much needed days off this weekend. That is a bonus.

Charlie Brown


I am SO disappointed that im not making a film this weekend!! Making films is my favourite thing ever and so much of filmmaking is pre-production and post-production and logistics and planning… but actually being on set; actual production is AWESOME!! And it makes all the other stuff worth it! Team ‘On The Train Productions’ have been working SO HARD for so long – all with the goal of shooting The Ditch this weekend… And now were not shooting! Waaaaahhh! And I don’t know what to do with myself!

What makes it worse is that we have had such an overwhleming amount of support for Th Ditch – Stephen gave away his summer and ran an amazing crowdfunding campaign to fund this shoot. We reached our target because of all you lovely people who donated and it’s a massive kick in the teeth to not be able to thank you all with a pretty much finished film at the end of this weekend…

But anyway, it’s not the end of the world. We WILL finish this film. It’s just a case of more scheduling, more planning and more logistics now to work out when we can move this postponed shoot to…

I will leave you with my favourite pic of me from the 2012 shoot…

Mucho love xxx

Sheena Holliday, Director

I love horror films…

31 Jul


My name is Sheena and I LOVE horror films.

For as long as I can remember I have loved reading and writing stories. I think it was my mum who introduced me to the work of Stephen King and that was it – I was hooked! I read all the books of his that I could get my hands on. And then I re-read them.

When I was at school I used to have Friday night sleepovers with my friend Michelle and we would watch horror film after horror film and totally scare ourselves silly (and then camp out in the front garden of course!) Pennywise the clown and the man in the hat from Poltergeist still haunt me to this day.

It’s hard to say exactly why I love the horror genre so much. I just know that I do. I really like the way that horror can speak about a vast range of subjects and especially things that are difficult or ‘taboo’. (‘American Mary’, ’Chained’, ‘Sleep Tight’) I like that they tend to focus on ‘outsiders’ and people who aren’t ‘the norm’. (‘Berberian Sound Studio’, ‘Ginger Snaps’, ‘Wilderness’) I have always been an outsider, I have never been ‘the norm’ so I suppose I identify with these films a lot more than a mainstream summer release blockbuster. I love how horror films take on a dreamlike quality and can be literally be your worst nightmare visualised. (‘Black Water’, ‘Audition’, ‘The Loved Ones’) I love the way that the visuals of a horror film can be very Expressionist in their mise-en-scène and use of light, dark and shadows.

The other thing that I love about horror films (which is probably rooted in my adolescence) is the fact that for me they are an ‘event’. A horror film is something that you watch with other people, you turn all the lights out, you eat great movie snacks, you can make it a double or triple-bill, it’s basically the best way to spend an evening.

At university I studied Theatre, Film and TV and I wrote my dissertation to disprove the idea that the horror genre is a low worth genre. To prove that it isn’t just exploitation, sexploitation and as much blood, guts and gore as is possible – all for no reason other than to shock.

Yes, some horror films are like that – and they do serve a market. However not all horror films are that generic. Some tell a really amazing story, they have really brilliant characters, they deal with difficult subjects very sensitively, and at the same time manage to create a ‘world’ which viciously drags it’s audience in and then scares them half to death. (‘Cold Prey’, ‘The Signal’, ‘Dark Water’, ‘Pontypool’)

I love a big range of horror films – I love spooky horror films, I love terrifying horror films, I love gruesome horror films – but I cannot bear horror films with weak storylines, stock characters and girls getting naked for no reason. I think films like these are an insult to their audience and basically just lazy filmmaking.

My love of horror has zealously continued into my adult life. I am now a filmmaker, I work with the arts and I make performance work. My favourite aspect of all of my different projects is when I can work on something that is a little bit darker or a little bit scarier… One of my favourite freelance jobs is helping young people make their own short horror films complete with zombie face painting, edible fake blood and DIY severed finger tutorials.

I am currently the writer/director on a short horror film called ‘The Ditch’ (we complete shooting in September) and I am very excited to be yet again spending the bank holiday weekend in the depths of the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square at this year’s Fright Fest.

In Conclusion; I am a BIG horror fan.

Oh yeah, and I’m female.

To me this is not an issue. Throughout my life I have never really thought anything of it. I am a fan of horror, I am a filmmaker and I am aspiring to make a horror feature film. The fact that I am female doesn’t mean a thing.

Except, it turns out that it is ‘A Big Thing’ whether I want it to be or not.

Recently I was looking through the upcoming Fright Fest line up to plan my weekend and I realised that out of the 27 films being shown on the main screen there is only 1 by a female director. 1!!!!!

I also checked out the line-up of last year’s Abertoir festival (this year’s line-up hasn’t been announced yet) and out of the 25 films they showed, again only 1 was by a female director!!

I started doing more research and came across list after list of the best horror films/directors –

20 greatest horror films,

10 best horror directors,

Top 13 MASTERS OF HORROR: Writer/Directors,

10 New Masters of Horror

All of these lists contain films made by male directors. There are no female directors on these lists.

And then I found this article – Time Out compiled a list of the 100 best ever horror films, in their words…

“as chosen by those who write in, direct, star in and celebrate the genre”

So a list compiled by a collection of people who are really passionate about the genre. Out of one hundred films listed guess how many were directed by a woman??



However, strangely I am not that surprised.

Women are massively under-represented across the board in the film industry. The results of a recent study prove this as a fact…

“In 2012, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films”

Celluloid Ceiling Report 2012

“Women accounted for 9% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2012”

Celluloid Ceiling Report 2012

Apparently this under representation of females does not stop behind the scenes of a film either; we face the exact same thing on the screen.

“Only 11% of all clearly identifiable protagonists are female, 78% are male”

It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World

And as a special kick in the teeth for me as an aspiring female horror director…

“Women were most likely to work in the documentary, drama, and animated film genres.

They were least likely to work in the action, horror and sci-fi genres”

Celluloid Ceiling Report 2012

In 2012 Cannes film festival had 22 films up for the Palme d’Or award and not one of them had a female director.

In 2013 they did slightly better by including 1 film with a female director.

I posted the above article on Facebook during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and one of my Facebook ‘friends’ commented below it asking me why I had to make a fuss about there being no female directors nominated, and why I couldn’t just be happy that 22 great films were nominated?…

Well… On a personal level there are two main reasons actually.

1. I am female and I am a film director. These statistics do not inspire me about the future of my career, and the opportunities I might have.

2. I spend a lot of my time working with young people helping them be creative and make films. I work with boys and girls. When we make our films the boys and girls are equal. I would like to be able to make reference to amazing films made by women and prestigious awards given to women in my sessions. I do not want to make the girls feel like they can’t achieve as much as the boys in the group in terms of filmmaking simply because of their gender. But unfortunately I do not have the statistics to back that up.

So why aren’t more women making films? And specifically why aren’t more women making horror films? I am a filmmaker, I love horror films – I can’t be the only one can I?!!

Something I want to make very clear is that I do not want to take any credit away from any of the amazing male directors out there.  Also I don’t believe it is the fault of Fright Fest or Abertoir that there aren’t more female directed films being screened – if films directed by women aren’t submitted to the festivals then they can’t be screened.

I really want to try and understand why the film industry is in this position. There is nothing synonymous about filmmaking and the male gender, or horror and the male gender.

So I’m going to talk to people and try and get some insight. I’m going to interview as many people as I can on this subject to try and understand why things are the way they are.

So if you are a female horror director I would like to hear from you, if you are a female who works in filmmaking in any sense I would like to hear from you. If you are a female who loves horror I would like to hear from you! But the conversation does not stop there – I would also like to hear from you if you are male. Are you a filmmaker? Do you love horror? Both? Neither? Talk to me. I want to get to the bottom of this…

I truly believe that filmmaking and specifically horror filmmaking shouldn’t have to be about gender. But it is and unfortunately it will be until the statistics show that women and men are represented equally in the film industry, and that is a fact that cannot be argued with.


Drink! Shoot! Collaborate!

19 Mar

Photo by Adam Greenwood

'The Ditch' cast and crew

Sheena Holliday, Director

Last September my film company Crestfallen Productions teamed up with On The Train Productions to shoot a short horror film ‘The Ditch’ which I directed. Shooting this film was a MASSIVE deal for me as I talked about here. The shoot itself was a gruelling but brilliant experience. We were in a forest for the weekend, luckily the weather behaved itself but I’m not going to lie to you; there were some really difficult moments during that weekend. One in particular was when we realised we had been overly ambitious with our shot list and there was NO WAY we were  going to shoot everything we had planned to…

Directing the fight scene

Sheena Holliday

However there were some truly amazing moments that weekend too. And one of them was having the absolute pleasure of working with the beautiful (in both senses) and talented cast –  Katie Pattinson (Donna) and Lucy Wilkins (Nina) and a wonderful and supportive core team of crew members. I am uber excited about the footage we have shot – I just can’t wait to finish shooting it and get the film out there!!

Last week we had a small meet up to chat about how things have been going and what is happening next. Unfortunately not everyone could make it (a lot live outside of London – Lucy is a Yorkshire lass and lovely Ashley (sound) lives on the south coast..) But it was great to catch up with those who could make it.

Stephen Coltrane

Katie and Henry

Katie and Henry

During the evening the subject of ‘collaboration’ came up. Of course it did. Bottom line: doing creative work such as making a film has to be a collaboration with equally passionate people because none of you are doing it for the money (Ha! What money?) So it is essential to find people who you can work well with but who most importantly you can trust. I am lucky enough to have found some of these wonderful people to collaborate with and believe me I will be clinging on to them for dear life.

Sheena Holliday

Stephen Coltrane

Henry Coleman

Anna Haffers

The plan is to shoot the rest of ‘The Ditch’ next summer (basically when the trees match!) We have a lot of planning and organising to do before then, but that is fine, I am looking forward to working closely with all these people again. Believe me, it takes a lot of passion for a project to keep it going this long! But luckily everyone involved in ‘The Ditch’ believes in the film and is being very patient and understanding. Watch this space for more updates… : )

Anna and Katie


Much love xxx