Filmmaker Spotlight

Shannon McInnis: On Lessons in Film, Life and Death

  FAME: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your film experience.

Shannon : I am a filmmaker in Milwaukee, WI. I recently graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a B.F.A. in Film and my film "ANGELAAA" is a puppet musical that served as my senior thesis film. I have worked on set for four feature films as a Script Supervisor and Second AD. From day-to-day I work at an agency/production company called SRH Marketing as a Producer for commercials. I started this position as an intern last summer, and while working part-time for my senior year, my work funded my senior film and helped produce it. I graduated in May and now work full time as a Producer in Milwaukee.

FAME: What was your inspiration for your short film?

It all started with the puppets. I was working on a film set as PA, holding the clip microphone on the walkies. I was just zoning out making the teeth of the clip move up and down and pretended it was singing to entertain myself. Then I had the idea of a woman on a stage surrounded by giant mouths with big teeth that were singing - and that became the monster puppets in the film today.
The next step was to figure out why she was on stage and how the puppets were helping her - I found the concept of furry puppets singing about death to be a darkly humorous juxtaposition.
  FAME: What was the biggest challeges you faced and most rewarding experiences in creating your film?

Shannon : Writing an original musical and working with puppets were both really new challenges. It took about 6 months to write the music, audition voice actors/singers, and record the music. Then once all that was done - we had to make a short film and operate puppets to match the singing. I learned a lot from my friends who'd worked with puppets and from trial and error. Very furry trial and error.

FAME: What do you want people do take away from watching your film?

Shannon:I hope audiences go call their Moms and tell them they love them.

I really like films that have a nuanced way of being reflective on life as an experience. It's the kind of feeling you get when someone dies and you just kind of "think about stuff". I like that feeling.

That and I hope people know not to take life too seriously. There's singing puppets in the world for god's sake.

FAME:What have you learned from making these film that might be of value to aspiring filmmakers?

Shannon : I learned to have a strong vision but also to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.

If you remove your own pride from the situation and care about expressing your voice while also making it be the best version possible, you learn to listen to people who are wise and have learned by doing it before you. I got really good input from my AD John Olsen who was not shy about telling me things that were "student film-y", but I didn't take it as an insult. I trusted he wanted what was best for the project, and if he didn't I probably wouldn't have worked with him so closely.

FAME: Any other films of yours our readers can check out? What about upcoming projects?

Shannon Right now I'm mainly focusing on developing my producing skills and building my network from my full-time job as a Producer.

I'd love to continue to work with music - I think the next thing I do will involve vocal a cappella music. I freaking love a cappella and that's a whole part of the music world that needs more kick ass music videos :) : 

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