Written and directed by Ashton Helton and produced by Vanessa Jones just this year, the short psychological thriller Fine Lines illustrates just how cutthroat some bands can be once members agree that one of their own has become detrimental to the group and needs to be terminated. The ladies starring as punk band “Celluloid Sin” are Ginny Shafer as lead singer Chelsey, Kelsey Hamilton as drummer Jess, with Taylor Vali and Rachel Evensen rounding out the foursome as the bassist and guitarist, respectively. As one can see, while ridding the band of Chelsey was obviously a group decision, the plan seems to have been devised by Jess, who takes the lead role, her fellow instrumentalists look more supportive than active in the scheme.
Fine Lines was created for the second film production/directing class that I’d taken in college. I made it for my final project and it’s the first fictional narrative film that I’d directed of substantial length. Previously, I’d made a few short student films and at the age of 14, I made a short film about a man who unknowingly hosts a parasitic alien in his lung, which is ejected when he takes a hit from a joint. That film was called Party Foul and was featured with Grail Moviehouse in downtown Asheville (North Carolina). We actually sampled from an original song that was scored for Party Foul to create the disorienting mix of sounds you hear near the climax.
At 19 years old, this is the film that I am most proud of so far. I made this film less than a month before graduating with my bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. It was primarily filmed in a dressing room in the building that hosts UNCA’s music department. Almost all of the set decor belongs to me, but some things were donated by local bands and music shops, including the t-shirt that the guitarist wears. You can see several posters for my own projects among the set dressing, including a poster for Party Foul and several flyers for my weekly radio show.
For Jess’s interview scene at the end, I had both actors watch the first full interview with Courtney Love after the death of Kurt Cobain. Ginny Shafer, the actress who plays Chelsey Vaughn, had to video chat with loved ones to be taught how to properly shoot up heroin. I taught her how to make a tourniquet with a belt myself. All of the actresses can be seen with track marks on their arms except the television news personality (played by Emily Crock) and the guitarist (Rachel Evensen), who we chose as the designated straight edge band mate. The character of Chelsey Vaughn was named after my best friend.
I had worked with all of the actresses before making the film. Ginny Shafer and I collaborated on a product testimonial. Taylor Vali managed the makeup crew that I served on for the UNCA Drama Department’s 2017 production of Marat Sade. Kelsey Hamilton and Rachel Evensen and I had all taken a stage combat course together during the previous semester.