Kalyn Elizabeth Wood

Director and Actress of

Screaming Silence

A complete interview with Kalyn

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to director Kalyn for taking the time to answer our questions.

Whole team of Liverpool Indie Awards is wishing you the very best in all your future projects. We hope to see more of your exceptional work in the years to come. Thank you once again!

This film first started out as my dissertation project for my masters program in London. I was the only one in my class who was doing a digital piece. I knew when beginning to write my piece that I wanted to examine women’s relationships, mainly women’s relationship to trauma, sexual assault, loss, isolation and also to dive a little into the mother-daughter relationship dynamic. Yes, I know that sounds like a lot, but that is what drives me. The complexity is women. My complexity and hidden spaces within myself. The film’s first iteration was completely different from its final iteration that it is today and to be quite honest I am glad I went the route that the film is now rather than what it was ‘supposed’ to be. It challenged me and pushed me to places I had never been before as a performer intrinsically, technically, and emotionally. What started out as a quest to fulfill or rather rewrite my story as a gift to my mom and it then became something in singularity. From women, to women. A singular and multifaceted relationship with trauma, the aftermath, loss, isolation and more importantly silence. I investigated the notion of: the power of female silence in films through the lens of trauma. I want anyone who watches this film to feel as though they are allowed in Elizabeth’s world to experience and observe her life in that present moment. I want people to be inspired by the lack of Elizabeth’s voice to find their own voice. To open up and out and maybe even scream.

I found myself having an off and on switch. I knew it would be a tough task for myself, so I was patient and that’s also why Hal played such a vital role. I knew the moments where I needed to jump in and be present as the actor, while also calling cut when I needed to. Communication was key too. I knew I could hand over the reigns to Hal in certain scenes so that I could give the moment my all, and make sure it was a perfect as I could be; knowing perfectly well it will never be perfect. I think I also trusted myself to do it all, I gained a beautifully, quiet confidence going through this process that I am so grateful for. Having Hal as a co-director allowed me to always have a second perspective on the entire project. We both worked in a way of what ‘felt’ good. If the shot felt good, then we moved on. Hal knew exactly what I was trying to do, and trusted me on the acting side to be able to do it, and trusted him with his film background to capture it. We constantly bounce ideas off of each other and push each other out of our comfort zones. In the editing room, like it always does, it all came together. When we finally put Michael Crean’s song at the end we watched it from the start and we both looked at each other with tears in our eyes knowing we did something that was powerful and made something we were proud of. Michael Crean’s song was actually how I wrote the film. Let me explain. As I said before, when I first started to write the film was very different and I ended up scrapping the first idea. When I was at a loss of what to do for a fate interview while I was on the tube in London. I heard Michael’s song on a streaming app, and in that moment I saw the whole film in my head. A magical moment I would say. Knowing that I did not have much of a budget, I still reached out to Michael and he graciously allowed us to use his song.

I think the biggest obstacle we had was the time constraint we were on when it came to filming. Due to our schedules and circumstances out of our control we only have a two day time frame to film everything. When it came to editing we were able to take our time, which was nice because we were able to really focus on what we wanted to do with the film in terms of editing and the effect it would have on the film overall. The biggest thing that allowed me to overcome these obstacles was confidence. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I could do it. Best thing was that I trusted my gut and went for it.

I think one of the biggest ones that sticks out the most is that Hal Waghorn and I shot this in 2 and half days. We used minimal lighting effects to capture the rawness of the homes we were in and better set the tone for the visuals of the film. Another memorable moment or rather funny moment from shooting, is when we went to a beach in Bristol where we shot the opening and ending shot. What we thought was solid sand and or secure rocks we could walk on ended up being thick and loose mud that when I stepped on I immediately sank to my knees and we all busted out laughing. Lastly, a moment that made my heart truly sing, was in the editing room with Hal. We were getting to the end of the film and were putting the song ‘Just for Now’ by Michael Crean in the ending scene. On the first try we had the placement perfect. We let the film roll from the first note of the piano and we both let out a huge emotional sigh that turned into tears because we knew right then and there that we were finished, but also that we made something that mattered. That had a voice of its own. Something that we were both proud of.

I don’t think I would change a thing. Having the time crunch we were on, made it do that we were all focused on the job at hand, but we were also loose enough to collaborate with new ideas in the moment. I think if we had a week or more to shoot, the film would be very different. The biggest take away for me is confidence and trusting my gut. To make art for myself and everything else will fall into place.

Probably this one. I was never going to really do anything with ‘Screaming Silence’ except try and get a top grade for my dissertation with it. It has now taken on a life of its own. The film has won 14 awards so far and we are going to more and more festivals. Besides awards, which are nice, I think the impact the film has is what I am most proud of. I have had countless people tell me online and at festivals how much the film has helped them, or spoke to them, and even made them feel seen. I never realized how much of an impact something that I made for myself can have on other people.

Trust your gut and never give up. Find your strengths and weaknesses and nurture them. There is no easy path, one way or even a right way to do something. Do it your way. Fall forward, fail, learn and get back up again. Always ask questions, never be the smartest person in the room… if you are, then you are in the wrong room. Your integrity is all that you have, never compromise it. Believe in yourself. And lastly, something that my late father always said, ‘every day is a great day’. Be in the moment because that’s all we have.

Well, since I was working with myself, I had to not be too self critical. I trusted my gut and went for it on every take. I tried new things and tested my limits and went past them. I also had an incredible co-director, Hal. He was great at setting the tone when I needed it and guiding me in the scene.

I mainly wanted to authentically represent what I had experienced in my own trauma, but also how the men and women that I spoke with and researched. There is a stigma around people taking about sexual assault, miscarriages, and other traumas. I wanted to break that stigma with having a character that doesn’t speak. I know that may sound confusing, but it’s true. There have been so many times when I have been watching a film where I have sat in the theater feeling invigorated and inspired to speak about what was happening in the film. Being embolden by some else’s silence or pain. Or even at times feeling simply seen by a character’s story and journey they go on. I took the inspiration my mom gave me of having silence in the film and took it to an extreme. I wanted audiences to understand what it feels like to Elizabeth. To live in her world. When it comes to sound design when filming, we wanted it to sound and feel very natural. So a lot of the ‘sound’ the audience hears is unedited, raw audio from filming. After editing, our sound designer Oliver Bignell was able to play with ambient sounds and audio to elevate a moment or add reverb to raw audio to better the jump cuts, which makes for a more effective cut emotionally. We wanted the sound that we added to feel like it is Elizabeth’s head, almost like a boiling point, an inner song, or hum/ringing from within.

I love it. Communication is key for me and my team. If something didn’t work we said it or if someone didn’t fully see the vision or the idea we would explain and bounce ideas off of one another. The benefit of all of this is that I have a very small team in this, so communication is easy. The audience feedback has been amazing so far. Because the film is ambiguous to an extent, it lends itself to multiple interpretations sometimes, which I find exciting. We haven’t made too many changes to the film, only a few shots have been cut short just for time sake, but so far my team and I have had the best time speaking with reviewers and audiences. Speaking with the people that my film and performance has touched, motivates me and makes me want to do more films like this.