Woman in the Wall
Woman in the Wall is a modern retelling of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" that addresses mental health issues and the long-existing epidemic of doctors not believing women who claim to be ill. Supporting our project will help us to bring these issues to light.
Inclusion StatementWoman in the Wall is a film for women, about women, created by women. Our society has a long history of not believing women and refusing to treat them for their ailments, physical or mental, and our film aims to bring this to light and tell women "we believe you."
About The Project
Woman in the Wall is a short and suspenseful drama that highlights a reality that many women live with. Statistically, women are twice as likely as men to require multiple trips to the doctor before recieving a diagnosis of any kind. Until the 1980s, female hysteria was considered a legitimate diagnosis to cover anything from fainting spells to anxiety to overactive sex-drives in women. There is an eight and a half year delay on diagnosing endometriosis, a chronic uterine disorder that causes extreme pain. Put simply, society has a long history of not believing women and refusing to treat them for their ailments, physical or mental.
Our story follows a woman named Cassandra who falls into a depression at the face of her infertility. Wanting to speed up her healing process, her husband John organizes a time away for Cass to rest at his family's old summer home. Upon her arrival to her temporary home, Cass feels unsettled and weary that she may not be alone--She is certain there is the presence of another person in her room, specifically within the dingy wallpaper peeling from the walls. Despite voicing her concerns and constant requests to repaper the walls, John writes Cass off as unstable and unwilling to get better. His disbelief in her concerns begins to dismantle their relationship and the trust that they once had for each other, and her loneliness becomes all-consuming.
As her marriage drifts further from her grasp, and her mind drifts further from reality, she frantically turns her attention to finding the woman who haunts her daydreams and restless nights. After tearing down every last bit of wallpaper, Cass finally finds the connection and freedom she has longed for.
Because our film takes place in a limited space, we have a big task in telling Cass' story in a visually engaging way. Our visual inspiration comes from films like Mother! that play with lighting, contrasting colors, and unexpected visuals to create tension and suspense.
Throughout the film, Cass sees a woman outside of her home who closely resembles herself. These scenes are inspired by the vintage style of the 60s and films like Lolita.
Finally, the original short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" contains a great deal of visual descriptions that have guided us in creating the look and feel of our film. Read the short story here.
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Morgan Stough | Creative Producer
Morgan Stough is a Chicago-based creative producer with a focus on creative story development. She hails from Omaha, Nebraska and is currently living in Chicago while she finishes her MFA at Columbia College Chicago. Two of her short films have screened at festivals around the Omaha area and she is currently working on her newest film titled Woman in the Wall.
"The first time I read 'The Yellow Wallpaper,' I was 18 years old and had recently been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. The story of this woman's loneliness and pain spoke to me on such an intimate level, and it played a huge role in learning how to deal with--and speak about--my mental wellness. I was lucky enough to have parents who spoke candidly about mental health and supported me in getting the help I needed, but I've come to learn that not everyone is so fortunate. I chose to adapt this particular story into The Woman in the Wall because I wanted to speak candidly about mental health, as well as the challenges that many people face when trying to speak up about their reality and seek help. In this film, Cassandra's story is spearheaded by her struggles with infertlity and the constant belittling of her mental state by the people who supposedly love and care about her. It's all too common that I encouter women who know that they are facing illness, physical or mental, and are written off as emotional and dramatic. This film is for the women who feel as if they're facing their struggles alone, even when surrounded by their loved ones. I stand with you and want you to know that you are never alone in your trials."
Neva Sheaffer | Writer and Director
Neva is a Chicago based writer, director, and middle sister who grew up in the rural Midwest. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from Truman State University in 2015 and her MFA in Cinema Directing from Columbia College Chicago in 2019. She is drawn to subtlety and simplicity in film, art, and life and is particularly interested in crafting true to life narratives featuring honest depictions of women and girls.
"One of our challenges with this project is creating a modern adaptation of a story first published in 1982, examining these issues that were relevant then and retelling the story in a way that reflects where we're at now in 2019."