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Shannon Malone-deBenedictis: Letting the Work Inspire You
Episode 17424th May 2022 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:01:50

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No matter how many accolades you receive, they will fade, and the plaques in your honor will eventually be removed and replaced with new ones. Of course, receiving recognition for the creative work you do is an important part of staying motivated as an artist, but today’s guest believes that it should be the work itself that inspires you, not the awards you collect for it. That being said, today, we are honored to welcome our first-ever Emmy Award-winning artist, Senior Vice President of Development and Production for Red Rock Films, Shannon Malone-deBenedictis! A former video installation artist, Shannon is a creative storyteller and a leading figure in film development and production spanning several genres. Notable projects include Secrets of the Whales, winner of the 2021 Emmy for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series, as well as Penguin Town and Shark Week. In today’s episode, Shannon emphasizes the value of patience, determination, and collaboration, highlighting the critical roles that great storytelling and constant curiosity have played in her decades-long career as a documentary filmmaker. We also touch on why the ability to work well with others is more important than raw talent and discuss some of the challenges that come with pitching films to investors, before Shannon offers her practical advice for filmmakers, plus so much more! Make sure not to miss this down-to-earth and insightful conversation with the one and only, Shannon Malone-deBenedictis!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Insight into Shannon’s career trajectory; from an art degree to office work and back to film!
  • Hear what it was like for Shannon and her team to win an Emmy for Secrets of the Whales.
  • The epic undertaking of filming the series and the collaborations that made it possible.
  • Studying the social, cultural traditions of whales, previously considered exclusive to humans.
  • Shannon’s belief that studying the culture of whales will play a key role in our ongoing efforts to protect them.
  • How advanced technology like drones enable us to capture footage in an ethical way.
  • Some of the controversy that often accompanies documentary filmmaking.
  • How Sigourney Weaver brought classic storytelling and emotion to Secrets of the Whales. 
  • Find out how Shannon believes COVID contributed to this project winning the Emmy. 
  • Two compliments that meant the most to Shannon, one of which was from a four-year-old.
  • The surreal moment when Secrets of the Whales won the Emmy for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series.
  • Why Shannon prioritizes the work she does over any accolades she has received for it.
  • Why simply having talent doesn’t mean you’ll get work; you can’t work in a vacuum.
  • The importance of learning how to collaborate and work with others as an artist.
  • Shannon and Sourdough share their mutual appreciation for the Jackass movies.
  • The amazing travel opportunities that being a documentary filmmaker has afforded Shannon.
  • Highlighting the roles that great storytelling and curiosity play in documentary filmmaking.
  • Challenges that come with pitching documentary films, and Shannon’s advice for filmmakers.

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