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‘Blame’ screened at Metuchen High

Lauren Beischer Photography
From left to right: Laurie Shephard and Quinn Shephard welcome the crowd at the special screening of “BLAME” which Quinn wrote, directed, edited, produced and starred in the film. Her mom, Laurie, worked as casting director and producer of the film.

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — The special screening of “BLAME” inside the Metuchen High School auditorium was fitting for Metuchen High graduate Quinn Shephard, who wrote, directed, edited, produced and starred in the film.

Many of the scenes of the film were shot in the auditorium.

“It’s so exciting to be able to share this film and the years of work we have put into it with the community,” Shepherd said. “This movie was born, bred, and filmed in Metuchen … and it’s been wonderful to have the support of civic groups and businesses to help celebrate Metuchen and independent film makers.”

The Metuchen Downtown Alliance, Metuchen Chamber of Commerce, Metuchen Arts Council, the Borough Improvement League and the Metuchen High School worked in collaboration with the Junebug ArtFest to coordinate a “meet the filmmakers”, which was held on June 17 at Cai’s Café, and a reception and red-carpet screening of “BLAME” on June 23.

Shephard, her mom, Laurie, who worked as the casting director and producer, and some of the cast and crew were present at the special screening.

Shephard, 22, a lifelong resident of Metuchen, said she had the story for “BLAME” brewing in her head when she was just 15 years old walking the halls of Metuchen High School.

After several rough drafts and 7 years later, the story came to life as “BLAME” and debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

Shephard said when she was 15 she was cast as Abigail Williams in a production of “The Crucible” at Playhouse 22 in East Brunswick.

“It was the most mature role I’ve ever played and the experience had a tremendous impact on me,” she said. “Beyond my fascination with the play, embodying Abigail had a strong influence on my day-to-day life. It changed the way I perceived both myself and the world around me.”

Shephard said the role innately tied into her own coming of age.

“I felt powerful for the first time,” she said. “The script for “BLAME” was born, not only from imagining what Abigail’s story would look like set into a modern day high school, but from observing the way she changed her own perspective and heightening that to a fictional level.”

Shephard become the youngest female filmmaker to show her work at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The movie’s lead actress Nadia Alexander took home the “Best Actress” award from Tribeca.

Alexander said she usually does not play the villain role, explaining she almost did not take the role because she felt she did not fit the role.

“I’m really a nice person,” she said with a laugh.

The cast for the film includes Chris Messina, Quinn Shephard, Nadia Alexander, Tate Donovan, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Marcia DeBonis, Tessa Albertson, Owen Campbell, Sarah Messanotte, Luke Slattery and Larry Mitchell.

As described for the festival, when precocious and emotionally unstable Abigail (Quinn Shephard) is cast as the lead in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” over mean girl Melissa Bowman (Nadia Alexander), Melissa and her friends only amplify their abuse.

Substitute drama teacher Jeremy Woods (Chris Messina) isn’t completely oblivious. He intervenes and sees talent in Abigail’s total commitment to her new part. When Jeremy’s intentions become cloudy, Melissa spots an opportunity for more potent machinations.

The special screening received a standing ovation from those who attended and a question and answer session followed.

Shephard said with so many roles that she played during the movie process, she said it was tough.

However, she said the preparation for the movie — seven years in the making — helped put everything together along with the trust and talent of the small crew.

Shephard said currently she is writing a cable miniseries.

“Fans of “BLAME” will definitely find a lot of similarities, but it’s also quite different in that it has more mystery/thriller elements,” she said.

Shephard said she just signed with WME Entertainment as an actor, director and writer.

“I am looking forward to working alongside them developing my next project,” she said.

For more information visit www.filmetuchen.org.

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