Dawn is McGowan's directorial debut, and premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in January. The feature took many by surprise with its aspects of heightened reality, and has continued to generate acclaim among critics. The 40-year-old actress detailed the work in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
"I am a big film and art buff, I think better films would be made if more people were," McGowan said. "My three inspirations for Dawn were the look of the original Parent Trap, the tension of Night of the Hunter, and the loneliness of an Edward Hopper painting."
The film is a stylized short set in 1960s Kennedy-era America. The story follows title character Dawn (Tara Barr), a sheltered teenager, who looks to gas station attendant Charlie (Reiley McClendon) to free her from her restricted life after he innocently flirts with her.
McGowan plans to hold a week-long Dawn festival at the Downtown Independent theater in September. The Academy Awards require nominated films to be publicly exhibited for paid admission in Los Angeles for three consecutive days, and the event will also feature screenings of Thelma & Louise, Rosemary's Baby, The Silence of the Lambs and more.
McGowan has three other directorial projects in the works, and will appear in an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart later this year.