Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Chris Shaw of Calico Rock Films Is Helping To Change Our World
Remind yourself of why you got into this industry. This industry will provide you with a constant fluctuation of emotions. It can create distractions causing you to forget why you even began this journey. Remind yourself of the experience of creating and the artistic high gained from it. Celebrate the wins because they will get you through the tough times.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Shaw.
Chris Shaw, a visionary filmmaker, has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema through his emotive storytelling and unique visual style. Hailing from a background in photography and art, Chris ventured into filmmaking to bring his imaginative narratives to life. With his debut masterpiece, “The Flower That Never Wilts,” he mesmerized audiences with a poignant tale of resilience, love, and the human spirit. Chris’s exceptional ability to capture raw emotions on screen has earned him critical acclaim and a devoted following. He seamlessly weaves together striking visuals, powerful performances, and a soul-stirring soundtrack to create a cinematic experience that lingers long after the credits roll. “The Flower That Never Wilts” has been lauded in prestigious film festivals worldwide, earning Chris accolades for his storytelling finesse and directorial prowess. Through his art, Chris aims to ignite conversations about themes close to the human heart, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and leaving audiences with a renewed appreciation for life’s intricacies. As he continues to evolve as a filmmaker, Chris Shaw’s dedication to crafting compelling narratives that resonate with audiences remains unwavering. His work serves as an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers and a testament to the transformative power of storytelling.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
My journey to becoming a filmmaker initially stemmed from my brother deciding to take the path of becoming an actor. Coming from a football-dominant household, the arts weren’t something we ever really considered being a part of. My brother became a guide to this new world of expression and made me realize how creative we had actually always been growing up. I quickly fell in love with the ability to freely create and convey emotions through storytelling.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started in this industry, I didn’t realize all of the lingo that is used on sets. Like that 10–2 means you have to go to the restroom. My coworker told me that is where he was going but I didn’t understand what that meant until he came back 30 minutes later. After that, I made sure to learn the rest of the lingo that’s utilized.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Early in my career, I worked with Tyler Mitchell, the extremely talented photographer whose most known for being the first black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover at 23. The experience was a masterclass on how to convey powerful and emotional messages through undertones and nuances. It was my first introduction to working within a more experimental/arthouse medium. Tyler was very young at the time but had such deep artistic knowledge while also understanding how to properly run a set. It was extremely fascinating to watch and helped give me insight into the arthouse space that I currently work in.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Edgar Allan Poe and Fritz Lang are two people who have had a big impact on me. My work has been heavily influenced by both their art, and Lang’s ties to German Expressionism. The way they used their art form as a release from the extremely difficult lives they lived has inspired me to be able to do the same.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
In many of the films that I’ve done, mental health has been the ongoing theme discussed. This is a topic that I want to build a conversation around in the hope of humanizing and creating empathy for those dealing with any type of mental health issue. By implementing some of my own life experiences into my work, I hope that people are able to resonate with it. Moving forward, it’s my goal to partner with mental health organizations to further deepen the connection between art and its real-world impact.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
When I was struggling in my own mental health journey, I realized that creating art that was derived from my emotional experiences made me feel empowered and heard. This was a tool to not hide from my trauma but to blossom something beautiful from it. By personally going through those experiences, it gave me an understanding of the language to exude within my work for it to be felt by those watching it who have gone through similar situations. That realization was a big proponent in an “Aha Moment” to shift gears in building stories around mental health.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
A close friend of mine called me after watching my most recent film and revealed to me that he had been having suicidal thoughts and was experiencing similar pain to one of the characters in the film. He then told me how the film made him realize the support that he does have around him, when prior he felt like he was alone. We were then able to have an open and honest discussion about what he had been experiencing.
I’m by no means perfect or correct in every message I try to put out but that phone call really put into perspective the power of film and the responsibility that we as artists have to understand the influence we create. It gave me further confirmation that this cause was something that I needed to keep pursuing.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
This can be done through sponsorships, grants, and even just spreading the word to make these stories more known to the masses.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Have a deeper understanding of the world around you. When you’re a filmmaker you are creating worlds and formulating relationships. I believe to be successful at this you must understand the depths of the relationships within your own life to know their complexities. That’s why finding real-life inspiration makes the story feel so much more intimate and impactful to the audience.
- Implement intention and purpose behind all creative decisions. We as humans are subconsciously affected all the time without realizing it. Every detail matters in telling a story. There needs to be a reason for why you made that choice because every decision you make will affect the audience differently.
- Expand your knowledge past just your medium. Every section of the film industry goes hand in hand within the creation process. As a director, I think it’s essential to understand the languages between the departments. The most impactful thing I’ve ever done for myself as a filmmaker was take acting classes to better understand the process of that medium. When I began taking part in the Meisner, Strasberg, and sense memory exercises, I understood the art form as a whole on a much deeper level.
- Understand the business side of the industry as well as the creative. Create opportunities for yourself as you need to be your biggest advocate. Gain knowledge on how to expand your reach.
- Remind yourself of why you got into this industry. This industry will provide you with a constant fluctuation of emotions. It can create distractions causing you to forget why you even began this journey. Remind yourself of the experience of creating and the artistic high gained from it. Celebrate the wins because they will get you through the tough times.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I think it’s important for young people to realize how connected we all really are as humans. There is always a ripple effect that takes place with every action. What may seem small in the moment may actually result in a massive impact without you even knowing.
We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Jacob Elordi is someone I’d like to collaborate with. He’s somebody I respect as an actor but also listening to his thoughts on films centered around mental health, he understands the complexities and importance of them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you’re not starting from scratch. You’re starting from experience.” — Unknown
I think this quote relates to all aspects of life. Life is going to be full of failures and setbacks but taking something from our experiences is essential in moving forward. It provides us with a solid foundation to build from.
How can our readers follow you online?
My Instagram is @chris_shaw_
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!
Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Chris Shaw of Calico Rock Films Is Helping… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.