Photographed entirely in a single shot, Hangnail pulls at the skin of parched love.  An argument exposes two lovers’ history, and reveals a secret that will either save or break them.

Very powerful. Wonderful filmmaking.” (Academy Award®-winning writer and producer Paul Haggis)

Creative team

Writer/director: Cavan Campbell
Producer: Norma Mendoza

Filmmakers statement

Cavan Campbell says:

Hangnail’s structure developed at the same time as its characters. I had originally written Roz and Kenny without a specific film to contain them, while the idea of a one-shot film set entirely within a single room was building separately. When I then paired the characters with the concept, I found they each influenced the growth of the other.

The choice to photograph the film entirely in one shot was based on my desire to trap the audience within the scene, as the characters themselves are trapped in their imperfect lives. It was also my hope to subtly personify the camera – it moves restlessly between Kenny at the toilet and Roz in the shower, as if it were a third character, a child watching her parents fight. The camera’s language develops slowly over its journey across the bathroom, revealing the layers of decay in the bathroom as the dialogue reveals the layers of distress between Roz and Kenny.

Hangnail was photographed on 35mm film, meaning the length of the film was shaped by the physical length of the 1000′ film loads (which are the longest available). There were no ‘cheats’ – everything was filmed live in the studio in uninterrupted takes.

We shot seven takes total and, on one take, I called ‘cut’ with less than 10 seconds of film left in the camera. It was an electrifying way to work, akin to producing a piece of live theatre. Our actors, Dylan and Tasha, particularly enjoyed the process. It allowed them complete continuity in their performances because they weren’t required to develop their characters across scenes shot out of sequence.

One year to the day (and nearly to the hour) after filming Hangnail, we were in Park City, Utah, for our world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. The film went on to screen and win awards on three continents. I feel very privileged to have been able to produce and release Hangnail.

Thank you to the National Screen Institute (through the NSI Drama Prize course) for the continued support of Hangnail. And thank you to you, the viewers, for your time and interest. I do hope the film resonates with you as it continues to with me.”

About Cavan Campbell


Cavan Campbell was born and raised in Prince Edward Island, his father a painter and his mother a writer. Filmmaking was the natural synthesis of these early loves. Cavan’s films have been shown nationally and abroad, and he has won awards for both writing and directing.

Cavan is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E), and makes his home in Toronto, Canada.

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