Meet the Crew: Writer and Co-Director Shailyn Cotten

Hello. So, who are you and how did you become involved with 'After Oil'?

Hey there! I’m the writer and co-director of AFTER OIL.  I’d had the idea of writing a webseries about a young girl in the Appalachians for years, but had no context as to what the story would be about.  One day, I was reading a book about gamification by Jane McGonigal called Reality is Broken while working part-time at my school library.  As I flipped through a case study about a crowdsourced project called World Without Oil, in which bloggers from around the world were encouraged to contribute posts explaining how their life would be changed over the course of 32 weeks if the world had run out of oil, I had a moment of clarity.  One such contributor predicted that, in such a future, an underground bicycle market would emerge.  I had a sudden vision of a young woman, astride her bicycle, riding through the Appalachian wilderness.  I brought my concept to my good friend Jessica Naftaly, and together we started developing it into a full-fledged series.

What stands out to you about ‘After Oil’?

My favorite part about working on AFTER OIL is developing a story for screen that deals with such heavy, authentic themes.  The series crosses into dystopian and science fiction genres, while still remaining grounded in a very stark reality; a future without oil, which we may be faced with very soon.  I’m also incredibly interested in telling the story of the rural American, and encapsulating the subculture that forms around small, country communities out in the mountains of the United States.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

As both a screenwriter and a novelist, I draw a lot of inspiration from many different sources.  Max Landis is a screenwriter that I look up to in my industry, as someone who has been so wildly successful at such a young age.  I also greatly admire author John Green, known for The Fault in Our Stars, but also as a part of the vlogbrothers channel on Youtube.  I look up to both of them as talented creators that show great empathy and a desire to connect with their audience in a personable and authentic way.

What are some of your favorite films?

I could go on for a while. My guilty pleasures are Inception and Sherlock Holmes.  I’m also a huge fan of The Babadook, Spirited Away, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  I'm a big fan of Christopher Nolan, Guy Ritchie, and also Rian Johnson.

What is your favorite place to hang out that you draw inspiration from?

I’m a big fan of writing in cafes.  My favorite place to go and write in NYC in Pushcart Café, on 2nd Avenue and 21st Street.  I also love to go to Madison Square Park to read a good book and do some people-watching on the down-low – it’s a great place to draw inspiration for character dialogue!

Lastly, let’s have some fun! If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Oh, that’s a tough one!  My first thought was to have some sort of healing factor, but you know, on second thought, I'm not too keen on being immortal.  In that vein though, I'd love to have some sort of healing ability, and that way I could heal others and myself - and still maintain some of that impervious Wolverine/Deadpool factor.  I like the idea of having a power that is very versatile; able to be used primary for self-defense and helping others, but also allows you to take action when needed.