When starring in My Wounded Head, Savannah Burton was there to tell the story. Like any good actress, committing to the role and giving a believable and memorable performance was the top priority. However, unlike most actresses starring in a film, Burton was the only performer. The success of the film and sharing the story was up to her. And she didn’t take the responsibility lightly.
My Wounded Head tells the tale of a transgender woman as she delicately puts on makeup while staring at her reflection in the mirror. Burton, a transgender actress herself, plays this woman. Her makeup is a metaphor for her transformation to uphold society’s perception of beauty, while addressing the transition that transgender people may go through. Digging even deeper, the makeup also acts as a form of armor, protecting her from the scrutiny that comes from the outside world.
“I chose to use extreme close-ups throughout the film, in an effort to magnify the expectations of society for a transgender woman, versus what she expects of herself,” said Stephen Chen, the director and writer of the film. “I needed an actor of the utmost quality that could convey the film’s deep messages without speaking one word; Savannah Burton was the one and only actor that could do just that. The success of the entire film rests on her shoulders, as she is the only performer in My Wounded Head.”
“Savannah does a remarkable job of bringing an authenticity to the role, taking the audience on a journey of discovery by creating a combination of comfort and uneasiness that makes the film both fascinating and enthralling,” continued Chen.
Burton’s talent is evident in the film, and brought the film great acclaim as an Official Selection at the esteemed Imperfectu (Tijuana) International Film Festival, Gender Reel Festival, and Sydney Transgender International Film Festival. Chen believes the many Official Selections My Wounded Head received wouldn’t have been possible without Burton in the starring role.
“It is always a thrill to have a film selected to be in a film festival. It’s recognition of the project a group of people worked on and gives you a positive feeling that people appreciate your work. This also gives the film a larger audience and a chance to have more feedback,” said Burton.
Burton worked closely with Chen to make the film exactly what they envisioned. She says the partnership was easy, and Chen was very prepared and knew exactly what he wanted, which makes her job as an actor much easier.
“When watching the film for the first time I was very proud of the work I did and felt Stephen did an amazing job telling the story he wanted to make,” said Burton.
Being without makeup for parts of the film was originally uncomfortable for the actress, but she quickly began to see the artistry of the project.
“I start the film without any makeup on and the camera follows me as I get ready to go out for the evening. Not wearing makeup made me feel very vulnerable but I feel stronger after for focusing and completing the work. I felt a little anxious about seeing it, but I was very happy with the end result, she said”
Burton has worked on many successful projects, including Syfy’s hit show Killjoys and the CW success Beauty and The Beast. She also is in the new LGBT period piece The Kiss.
This project, however, was an important piece of her career. Beyond anything, she took away a valuable realization while working on My Wounded Head. It was her first film after her transition.
“It felt amazing to finally be working as myself,” she concluded. “I learned that I can have a career as a trans actress”