Guilty (USA | 2017, 8 min)

Directed by: Erin Conroy

Written by: Erin Conroy

Cast: Eddie Ledford, Matt Mahaffey, Katie Novotny, Emma Smith, Jesse Kendall

Guilty is a comedy anthology series that follows Katie Donovan, a 20-something in Chicago, who, despite committing all the sins, is still trying to be a good Catholic for her parents. She makes it to Mass, albeit hungover, and fresh from a one night stand, dares to date outside her religion, and has no problem judging others, constantly. But she’s still a good person, right?


Katie Novotny is a Catholic girl from the suburbs of Chicago who sought to seek journalistic excellence at the University of Missouri but wound up an ex-Catholic advertising creative. What a cliché. Since returning to Chicago to pursue comedy, she’s graduated from both The Second City Conservatory Program and the iO Training Center. She’s performed at Chicago Sketchfest 2015 & 2016, snagged an award from The Mary Scruggs Works by Women Festival, had a run at Second City’s Donny’s Skybox, written for iO Comedy Network, and took 2nd in iO’s Vidiocy Film Contest. However, her biggest accomplishment came last fall when she hit a home run over that stupid left fielder’s head who played her too shallow. She owes all of these achievements to her mom (her first drama teacher) and her dad (her first coach).

Interview conducted by Jeff Ayars, Web Series Curator

Q: What’s your background & how did you get started?
I've been working in advertising for the past seven years, but thanks to my mom starting a Drama Club at my grade school when I was in 5th grade, I've loved creating and performing since. Then, I started taking classes at Second City and iO in 2013, and met a ton of crazy talented and amazing people to make things with.

Q: What inspires you to create?
I love making people laugh. And there's something wonderful about telling a very relatable and honest story in a humorous way. Life is hard, confusing, and confusing - especially as we get older. The more honest we can be with each other, and expose the funny along the way, the more connected we are as people. If you can make people laugh - whether its at an already absurd situation or at a very heartbreaking point of time - I think we become more human to each other. Plus, there truly is nothing better than making something funny with crazy talented people. That rush is something I'll chase forever.

Q: What advice do you have for indie creators on a budget?
Everyone has to be scrappy. Understand that a writer isn't just a writer, a director not just a director, an actor isn't just an actor. Everyone has to have that mentality and everyone has to pitch in. If you can stretch your roles, you can get more done for less. That being said, keep the cast small, the location manageable. Think of what sets you have available to you - will your office let you film in it? Will your aunt let you use her sweet apartment? Ensure that you feed people that are helping you out. If Domino's is having a lunch special, that's what you're getting the cast and crew. Or, if you want to make a run to the grocery store for bagels and cream cheese instead of Dunkin Donuts, make that happen. It'll create a professional environment, and people love free food. If you can, pay everyone involved a little something extra for goodwill and karma. Everyone knows you're self-funding, and a $15 gift card to Starbucks (or whatever you can afford) shows you're putting your best foot forward.

Q: What makes your project special?
Katie, our lead character, is a sex-positive, party animal with so much guilt from her childhood that she'll still show up to Mass for Grandma's birthday, albeit hungover. I think it's a very relatable story - a love for the people who raised you and a desire to become your own person. There's also an underlying desire to maintain the moral compass religion gave you, but push the boundaries more than any generation before has. (Or at least, openly.) Basically, Katie's on a journey to figure out how to still be a good person without adhering to the rigidity of Catholicism, and without beating herself up for making mistakes - she's only human.

Guilty is an Official Selection of the 2018 NYC Independent Film Festival.