LITCHFIELD — Jamie Monahan was born in North Carolina, moved to Virginia at the age of 10, then to Japan, where she lived until she was 16. She moved to New York where she made her mark as an actress, filmmaker, director, and producer. She may have been born in the south, but she has never considered herself a southern belle.

“My father was in the military and I grew up just outside of Tokyo,” Monahan explains, “so, I was used to big city life. I knew from the age of five that I wanted to be an actor. I would perform on the coffee table, get all the local kids involved in my shows. My eighth birthday was a video shoot and it was filmed at the Virginia Botanical Gardens and we had a whole plot. I have been professionally acting since I was nine. I had parts in two professional theater shows: ‘Annie’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’ Then we moved to Japan and I thought my career was over.”

Well, not quite. In Japan she continued performing, made music videos, commercials, and did some print modeling. But there was still New York to conquer.

“I moved to New York wanting to do Broadway,” says Monahan. “I soon realized they were casting more people who were television actors. There was also a little financial problem because Broadway doesn’t pay all that well and I never wanted to be a starving artist. I have always have thought of my career from a strategic position and taking ownership of what I can do in this industry.

“I did get to do a lot of really great things, but I felt, for the most part, that I was being typecast — portraying two dimensional characters like the girl next door, prom queen, cheerleader. That’s when I decided to start writing my own stuff and I produced a musical off Broadway. Then I decided to explore the world of television.”

Monahan then moved to the other side of the lens and began generating her own films. She produced and directed the award nominated short “The Wishing Tree” and assistant directed “Anatomy of an Orchid.” In Fall 2017 she produced and cast the proof of concept for “Astral,” which was greenlit by Adaptive Studios and Flat Earth, which was a Sundance New Voices Lab finalist. Last summer she was the executive producer for “Triad” and “Below the Belt.”

Most recently Monahan wrote, produced, directed, and starred in “Lucid.” It deals with a subject that Monahan finds fascinating.

“I have attended talks about the future of science and technology in film making,” says Monahan. “What is fascinating to me is the whole Sci-Fi aspect and I wanted to break into this traditionally male-oriented genre by telling a story from the female point of view. I love creating complex female characters, putting them in difficult situations and watching them survive. The choices women have to make, or are forced to make, tell a lot about their strength and character.”

Lucid takes place in the near-distant future, and follows Charlie, a young woman undergoing virtual reality therapy after being sexually assaulted. As she becomes addicted to how virtual reality makes her feel, Charlie slowly loses interest in the reality in which her friends live. Though virtual reality has been used in the gaming world and has been used for anxiety and fear research, it is not yet commonplace.

“We live in a time in which the fundamental ideas of what comprises reality and our experiences of it are in significant flux,” Monahan explains. “Technology often moves at a pace where by the time we’re having moral conversations about something, it’s already too late.”

But Monahan believes in the power of stories to spark conversation and enact real change. It’s what makes her so excited to be surrounded by like-minded Sci-Fi fans on DUST and is honored to have “Lucid” be part of its repertoire.

DUST, launched in August 2018, is a Sci-Fi streaming platform that presents thought-provoking visions of the future. From feature films to short films, series and podcasts, DUST works with established and emerging voices. Its content library includes more than 400 cutting-edge stories. Currently DUST is watched by more than four million people across all platforms and frequently hosts sold-out screenings in major cities across the United States.

“Lucid” was nominated for Best Pilot at the 2019 NYC Web Fest. It has also been accepted into the Sundance Institute TV Writing program. Monahan will be collaborating with Sundance to develop “Lucid” into a full one hour pilot script.

When Monahan sets her mind to something, it is quick and she is extremely organized. In January 2018 she wrote the script for “Lucid,” hired the cast and crew, did preproduction and shot the film in Litchfield the second week in July.

The location choice was obvious for Monahan. Her parents live in Litchfield and she has spent much time here.

“It has been my oasis from the city for so long,” she says. “The best advice I ever got as an independent filmmaker is to use the resources at hand. I had access to my parents’ home; it was easier to obtain permits and less costly. The bar scene was filmed at Sunshine Car Repair, my stepdad’s company. The underground lab was created in my parents’ basement. We also shot scenes at Topsmead and White Memorial. I wrote as much as I could adapting to what resources I had in Litchfield.”

“Lucid” has been available from DUST since its premiere in June and was nominated for Best Pilot at the 2019 NYC Web Fest.

Not being one to rest on her laurels, Monahan is now in post-production for her next project, “Legacy,” which is a crime thriller. It was also filmed in Litchfield with the original crew from “Lucid.” And with Monahan’s drive and creative force, there will be more to come. To view “Lucid” visit www.facebook.com/watchdust; www.youtube.com; or www.instagram.com/watchdust/channel.

For more about Jamie Monahan go to www.jamiemonahan.com.

Connecticut Media Group