Indie Spotlight: Talking with Taryn O’Neill, Maker of LIVE

When it comes to indie sci-fi short films, creators often take the opportunity to dig in and explore today’s issues through a futuristic lens. In LIVE, filmmaker-actress Taryn O’Neill tackles the question of what it would be live to be living a reality TV, YouTube style existence 24/7. The film debuts today online—so we sat down with O’Neill to learn a little more about the creative process that went into making LIVE.

RECURSOR: What inspired you to create LIVE?

TARYN O’NEILL: The inspiration for the project actually came out of a writing exercise. I was up in Vancouver auditioning, and was at a local coffee shop between auditions. I was writing two big sci-fi projects but had this inkling to task myself to write something that I could feasibly shoot, meaning that it was low-budget and short.

The coffee shop was grungy, and I fixated on this paint-chipped window frame. And then this image of a woman lying on a bed next to it, her face bruised, popped into my head. The script just flowed from there—I saw it unfold in my head. My subconscious was obviously influenced by all the media tech articles I read and the fact that I was up in Vancouver for the sole purpose of auditioning (and I wasn’t getting as many as I would have liked).

A few of the bigger tech elements, like the AI camera system, evolved after I wrote the first draft. But the live-streamer/influencer aspect was always there from the beginning and seemed like a thought-provoking idea to explore. 

Indie sci-fi film LIVE interview with Taryn O'Neill
On the set of LIVEPhoto credit: NIck Nakahara

How did the project come together?

Initially, I intended to hand the script off to a YouTube director friend, as I thought it would be great for someone’s channel; I honestly just wanted the writing credit.

But then an opportunity came to partner with a company, and in putting together a visual deck, I realized how much I wanted to direct it. I realized that the short could be a great introduction to my work as a writer/creator. That inspired me to pull from my savings and self-finance and co-produce the project.

How has the film been received so far?

So far, the only audiences who have seen LIVE were at a handful of film festivals, but the reception has been so inspiring! As I tackle big themes like social media harm and technological disruption (plus female aging in the media), I was thrilled at how many people wanted to discuss and debate the film. The ‘what would you do?’ element really seemed to affect and connect with people, which makes me beyond excited as a filmmaker. I can’t wait for LIVE to reach a bigger audience. 

What was it like winning an award at Boston SciFi Fest?

Being recognized for your work is always amazing. This award felt extra special, as I think it’s some of my best work as an actor while I was also directing (for the first time!). Boston Scifi Fest has an international slate of films screening, so it was exciting to be considered amongst so many terrific, international performances.

You can view LIVE here.

Taryn O’Neill is an actress, writer, and web series producer. In addition to appearing in multiple commercials and TV shows NCIS, VEGAS, and LIE TO ME, Taryn has also acted in over 20 web series including the award-winning show COMPULSIONS, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the Indie Soap Awards in 2010. She also played the recurring character June Sanders on BYUTV’s 1960s family drama GRANITE FLATS. Taryn produced the 2009 Streamy nominated sci-fi web series AFTER JUDGMENT and its follow-up, HURTLING THROUGH SPACE AT AN ALARMING RATE. As co-founder of the Actresses for STEM group SCIRENS, Taryn advocates for science and champions content that infuses science and accurate STEM characters into mainstream media. In her free time, she blogs for Women in Entertainment site MS. IN THE BIZ, geeks out over GAME OF THRONES and trains in martial arts.

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