How did you start doing what you’re doing?
I graduated with a degree in news journalism but have always had an interest in film and television. So, after a year writing and editing for Dallas’s city magazine, I decided to try my hand at production, moved to Wilmington, NC, and got a PA gig on Martin Lawrence’s “Black Knight.” I spent the next 15 years working in production in some form or other—writing/directing short films, producing PSAs, creating branded content campaigns, etc.
Name one or two struggles of doing the craft you do. How did you overcome them?
A lot of filmmaking requires technical expertise. I am a writer. While I have working knowledge of lighting, cameras, editing tools, and so on, my true wheelhouse is coming up with stories/ideas and then bringing together a team to execute. I learned early on it is worth it to stay in my lane and hire or collaborate with people who have expertise in the areas I don’t. Time is money.
Which brings me to my next truth: Production is expensive. Sure, anyone with a phone can now create content, but we’re kidding ourselves if we do not acknowledge that production quality matters in the end. Timeless work is made with care and craft. Care and craft cost money.
How do you deal with creative block? What would you advise others?
I am lucky to be surrounded by a global crew of artists and creatives who keep me constantly inspired and challenged. I have also learned to cut myself some slack when the muse does not appear. Often, I find [that] a break, a change of scenery, a change of perspective puts me in the right mindset. And, sometimes, even when I feel I have nothing to say, I will write anyway to keep the muscle-memory sharp for when the muse decides to return. The trick is to not stress yourself out. That just makes it worse—like most things in life.
Do you feel like you have support for your craft, and how important is that support to you?
I am extremely supported—on the personal and professional front. If projects are our children, and it takes a village to raise a child … you see, where I am going. I have friends who show up when I need readers/actors/editors/caterers and colleagues who promote my work and help make sure I am in the right rooms with the right people. Oftentimes, the two groups (personal friends and professional colleagues) are made up of the same people, which is a blessing I do not take lightly.
What’s one thing you would’ve done differently back then, since you know more now?
I would have studied film editing. Yes, yes, I know it is not too late to learn, but it is definitely more difficult to find the time. Being able to edit my own footage would have meant my projects more closely resembled what I envisioned. I am lucky to work with some truly talented editors now, but even then, having to be dependent on others to bring my vision to life is a humbling—and sometimes nerve-wracking—experience.
Do you think social media plays a big part in your success? Why?
What social media does for me is allow my friends and supporters to follow along as I create. And there is real value with bringing them along the process. They are engaged, which means they ask me how things are going, how they can help, what is next, etc. And they hold me accountable.
I do not really use social media as a marketing tool per se. At least, not yet.
How do you plan on expanding? Where do you see yourself with business?
The goal is four creative projects a year with two of those being my own work. In five years, I would like to look back at a body of work that includes “Season of the Witches,” the indie thriller I am developing: ‘Merica, the sketch-comedy show I created with my frequent collaborator, artist Fabian Williams, and a book of essays among other writing and projects. I have ideas for days. The focus is creating a funding pipeline, so I can bring those ideas to life.
More about Sherri :
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