Q&A: Kelly Shipe, Producer and Star of the short film 'Candee Noir,' Premiering at the Soho FIlm Festival

Q&A: Kelly Shipe, Producer and Star of the short film 'Candee Noir,' Premiering at the Soho FIlm Festival

photo by Kevin McIntyre

Would you sum up the film in a sentence?

Set in a sugary, distorted version of reality, Candee Noir is the story of a psycho-sweet woman repressing a “sweet tooth” for murder.

How big of an enterprise is something like Candee Noir?

I think anytime you set out to write and produce a film, the amount of time, energy, sweat, and level of emotional tension turns out to be much, much more than you ever expect when you make that decision to actually physically produce what has been swirling around in your head. Ha! That being said, it is so rewarding and completely worth it! Candee Noir was produced for about $2,800, and it was possible to produce the film on that shoestring budget simply due to the amazing actors, creatives, crew, and just good folks that volunteered their time, talent, and items like mint-condition Lincoln Continentals and a whole variety of baked goods to the project. A total of about 100 people helped get this little film made.

Would you look like Candee today if seen on the street?

There’s always a little Candee in me, so you might recognize her. But Candee would not leave the house without her hair fixed and her face on. I certainly don’t hold myself to those standards.

Did you consult crime or baking experts about the film?

Regina Long of B&G Catering was a great resource for the cakes and baked goods and she baked several cakes for this film. Also Jan Crowder-Barber was the artist behind the lemon-fluff-killer cupcakes. My mom, Peggy Shipe, who co-produced the film, was also the creator of Candee’s Strawberry Fluff Triple Layer Cake. She had to make four different ones throughout filming. I also had so many friends that contributed beautiful baked goods for the bake-off scene. As for crime experts? No. My Associate Producer, Doug Parker, did build a special effects filming box, though. It allowed my co-director Noble Robinette to film parts of the murder scene from the victim’s point of view.

What was your reaction when you heard you made SoHo? Will that help your film be more profitable?

I was completely thrilled!! I have been to the festival twice before as Co-Producer an actor in Octavia Spencer’s film, The Unforgiving Minute and also as an actor in Leigh Ann Jernigan’s film, The Big Prize. However, Candee Noir is my first experience having a film in a major film festival—one that I wrote and produced myself. As for profitability, there’s always hope when your film is accepted into a major film festival. We’ll see. I’d like to see Candee become a feature or Web series.

What’s your favorite film noir? How about favorite cake?

My favorite modern film noir would be L.A. Confidential and I love Chinatown; as for comedy noir, The Big Lebowski. I love Fargo, too. My favorite cake is my mom’s homemade yellow cake with cooked caramel icing. That strawberry fluff cake is pretty good too!

How’d you get to Knoxville?

I was born in Knoxville and graduated from Gibbs High School and the University of Tennessee, where I was a theater major. That’s how I met Dennis Perkins, who plays The bake-off announcer in Candee. My faculty advisor, Dr. Bob Mashburn, told me he thought I should go to Los Angeles after graduation. Ha! His reasoning was that he thought I could eat healthy and get lots of sunshine there in comparison with N.Y.C. Sounded good to me, so I packed my little car at took off to California as soon as I graduated. I loved it, too. I moved back to Knoxville when my son Elliott turned two; I wanted to be back near my mom and dad. Now I call myself a Tennefornian/Calissean. I came back to Knoxville expecting to just put my acting career on hold. Instead I found this really vibrant film-making community—Knoxville is a great place to film. There’s lots of talent and top-notch crew.

Is it odd to watch yourself be someone else on screen?

Actually I think it is easier to watch myself be Candee than with other roles I’ve played. Candee is so amplified—it really is like I’m watching someone else.

Where did you shoot?

Entirely here in Knoxville, even the tropical yacht scene, which we shot in 7-degree weather. The actors, Matt Jernigan and Carrie Arp, were such troopers. Also, Noble was genius in post-production, turning Fort Loudon into the Caymans.

Did anything funny happen?

When we were filming the murder scene, Stephen Van Dorn, the Los Angeles-based actor who played Steve DuVain, told me he would signal “timeout” if the onslaught of chocolate syrup, sprinkles, etc., got too much. He’s so talented and professional and he knew we only had one shot at the take. He let it go a little too far and by the time he signaled he really was having a hard time breathing. For a few minutes I did think we were gonna have to call 911. I don’t know how that would have looked to the paramedics. It wasn’t funny in that moment but we laugh now.

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