I would like to welcome Director/Producer Christopher Shawn Shaw to BTS Entertainment Corner—Here’s a little about him: Christopher Shawn Shaw is an Award-Winning Filmmaker who specializes in Film and Video Directing, Producing, Editing, Creative Consulting, Writing, and even Acting. He is also the Founder and Producer of the Night Of Comedy & Short Films FUNdraiser (NCSFF) LIVE events designed to support the production of high-quality, redemptive film and video content AND help supplement the hosting church fellowships’ yearly budget.
1) Hi Christopher, it was great to connect with you on LinkedIn so let’s start there first. As a filmmaker, how have you used social media to advance your career? Which is your favorite platform?
Social media has been monumentally instrumental, as it’s how most the people I’m connected to even know I and my work exist. I met one of my longtime collaborators, Thor Ramsey, via Facebook, and I connected with a name actor who helped get our first feature-length film, CHURCH PEOPLE, off the ground via Twitter. LinkedIn is also a humongous opportunity to connect with like-minded people and/or people who need your expertise, some of whom are not on Facebook or Twitter. So, those are three of my favorites – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. ( If you’d like to hear some eye-opening statistics and powerful ways to leverage LinkedIn specifically, check out my affiliate link to attend John Nemo’s free online webinar: http://bit.ly/FreeLIWebinar )
2) As a comedian, I love that you have delved into that genre. Do you pick the projects or do they pick you? (That includes any you write yourself)
I’m incredibly blessed to know and work with excellent writers, so I guess you could say I usually pick who writes, depending on the project and said writers’ skillsets (and availability, of course). I’m a person of faith… I was going through a dark time around a decade ago, and I sensed the Lord was changing my heart… I realized I needed to laugh more. I had this subscription to ChristianCinema.com, so I rented nearly all of their comedy selections in alphabetical order… and early in that queue was BANANAS DVDs, hosted by Thor Ramsey. I devoured them, watched the bonus features with the highlighted comics, and eventually connected with a number of them (e.g., Thor Ramsey, Michael, Jr., John Branyan, etc.) on Facebook. I would then send goofy Goldy The Goldfish videos I created to them, and – long story short – Thor saw a potential filmmaker to reach out to, as he had a script he wanted to get made. And that was one of the reasons we started doing 168 Film Projects together; he thought he should start connecting with filmmakers if he wanted to get his feature-length film made.
3) You use some of the same actors in your shorts (films that is), I do the same. How did you develop your talent pool? Does that include Judge Judy’s bailiff? (had to throw that in there)
I initially met a number of those actors through the 168 Film Project competitions, via auditions there or seeing them in other 168 film entries. Superb talent.
Judge Judy’s bailiff, Petri Byrd, is actually a family friend on my wife’s side; he went to school with her brother and her, and I think they attended the same church fellowship, too. Petri was gracious enough to play a fun part in our 2012 168 Film Project – HOW I MET MY FATHER: http://bit.ly/HIMMFshort_PL [VIDEO]
4) What new projects are your working on? Anything interesting you can share?
I’m attached to several projects – both shorts and features – that need funding, including a feature-length version of SKIP LISTENING.
I’ve also expanded my network to include more than just comedy collaborators, and one of the writers and producers I’m working with, Jamie A. Hope, has a powerful short film script (story by Mark Stiles of Three Men and a Tenor) honoring our veterans, PEACE AT HOME, highlighting battles many face on the home front post-deployment. A number of veterans are participating in the film, including our lead actor (also a producer), Jerry Della Salla.
Jamie has a number of feature scripts I’m attached to as well, some revealing the supernatural realm, like ILLUSION, her novel we want to develop into a screenplay.
(Here is my affiliate link to her novel on Amazon: http://bit.ly/IllusionRevBook It’s a page-turner!)
Another producer, Susan Shearer, and I have a supernatural short film script we collaborated on called FAMILIAR SPIRITS, about a widowed woman who believes she’s being visited by the ghost of her recently-deceased daughter. This one addresses a popular and controversial phenomenon via a Biblical lens.
Susan and I also have a sequel (that Thor wrote) to our award-winning mobster comedy short from last year, WIRELESS, that we’re hoping to Crowdfund and shoot this year.
5) Short films are starting to gain more and more respect in and out of the industry. What are your feelings for the future for this type of film?
I love both short films and feature-length films, and there are so many versatile uses for short films. There are things you can leverage with shorts that you can’t really leverage with features, namely time. People tend to be more inclined, online, to click on a short than a feature due to the fact that it’s short. Shorts can be utilized as mini-films simply for the sake of storytelling, as well as ice-breakers (Some pastors acquire shorts via Sermonspice.com to lead into the message), as well as advertising. The bottom line is our brains are wired for stories. Jesus Christ Himself told parables (short stories) to communicate what the Kingdom of God is like in the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!
6) As you spend more and more time behind the camera, do you have any advice for the new filmmakers out there? What about those who are more experienced, we all should continue to learn.
There are so many things nowadays we can do and have access to (or know somebody who does), compared to, say, twenty years ago.
Filmmakers can acquire extremely inexpensive and quality digital cameras, as well as editing software. For crying out loud, there are feature films that have been made on smartphones! Smartphones!! Nearly everybody reading this has a smartphone.
So, this is what I like to tell people – filmmakers, actors, cinematographers, composers, etc…. Unless God tells you otherwise, there are so many legitimate opportunities – especially via the Internet and social media – to leverage both networking and getting your work out there. Therefore, create content with what and whom you have access to… and share your work. Most of the projects I’m attached to can be traced back to working on 168 Film Projects, attending and networking at the 168 festivals, and sharing the work online. My current Director Reel, for example, is comprised entirely of 168 Film Projects… and you only know that because I just told you (or you’re already familiar with those shorts). 😉
And for the seasoned pros, remember, filmmaking is a collaborative, team effort. Your films don’t look good merely because of you… it’s also because of the team surrounding you. Take care of them and treat them well.
Many Blessings & Thanks,