Bio

Screenwriter and narrative filmmaker Sonja Kelly often explores gender psychology, trauma recovery, and identity fragmentation in her work. Her most recent short film script Standoff is in competition at The Script Lab (TSL) Free Screenplay Contest as a quarterfinalist out of 15,200 entries.

In 2011, Sonja graduated from the film and television production program at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

In 2013, her debut feature, a no-budget Shakespeare adaptation, screened at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, the Indie Gathering International Film Festival, the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

At IGIFF, LOVE: As You Like It won Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for Best Feature Film (Romantic Comedy). Several cast members went on to work on Broadway and in shows like Insecure, The Looming Tower, The Gilded Age, Westworld, Our Flag Means Death, Glow, and Silicon Valley.

In 2017, Sonja wrote, directed, and produced a micro-budget proof-of-concept short film that screened at the Festival de Cannes: Court M├ętrage (Short Film Corner) and received an award for Best Rising Action Star at a stunts film festival as well as nominations for Best Action Short of the Year and Best Female Filmmaker.

In 2020, Sonja shot a no-budget short film with one actor and one crew member. This experimental film explores the psychological impact of sexual trauma. It was filmed during a six-hour shoot in the Mojave Desert four days before lockdown began.

Sonja began her career as a Saturday morning intern to film critic Jan Wahl at San Francisco's KRON 4 News. She then joined the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors as a video production intern before working her way up to camera utility, assistant, and operator.

Over several years, Sonja worked the commercial and sports circuit in the Bay Area as a camera utility and production assistant while studying video production at the College of Marin. In 2008, she transferred to the University of Southern California to finish her degree.

Sonja is proud to be the granddaughter of a farmer poet from rural Finland as well as a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. As a neurodivergent queer woman with a dense trauma history, she brings a wealth of life experience to her writing and aims to tell cinematic stories that reflect her fluid and unconventional worldview. She has studied with Mardik Martin of Mean Streets, Dr. Rob Clare of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Evgeniy Lazarev of the Moscow Art Theatre, and many others.

Sonja resides in Rhode Island. She is available for hire as a director, writer, producer, or consultant, and can be reached by email.