Four Inane Questions with KC Film Office Director Steph Shannon

Steph Shannon Sabrina Staires 6171

Steph Shannon. // Courtesy Sabrina Staires

Don’t tell Dolly Parton, but Steph Shannon might be the hardest working woman in showbusiness. As the city’s revered film commish, Shannon heads up the metro’s perpetually busy KC Film Office. Bragging rights aside, she and her office have assisted with more than 1,400 projects—which has helped bring in an estimated $80 million in economic impact (and job opportunities) for the region. 

Those are some pretty big numbers for the University of Kansas grad whose pedigree speaks for itself. Remember when Netflix’s Queer Eye came to town? Shannon was ready with the hand-off. She also helped snag NBC’s American Ninja Warrior who set up shop at Union Station. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Amy Poehler’s new show for NBCUniversal/Peacock, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, recently wrapped filming here. There’s not a lot of public information on it yet, but keep your eyes also peeled for The Last of Us from HBO shooting around the metro. 

With 20+ years in the indie film, television, and commercial production industry, Shannon was also instrumental in devising the city’s first ever local film incentive which was unanimously passed by the city council. (And, trust us, that almost never happens.) 

We caught up with the movie maven and all-around mover-and-shaker to ask her our series of insipid questions. She answered them while perched high atop her Swarovski-encrusted director’s chair. (We kid. Not really.)

The Pitch: What one movie theater snack/concession could you eat every day for the rest of your life?

Steph Shannon: Every day? Hands-down—popcorn! And now that I’m more health-conscious, sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Look it up if you don’t know about it. It’s a substitute for butter.

In the history of cinema, what movie scene made you laugh the hardest? We’re talking full-on guffaw-chortle.

I nearly peed in my pants (or did a little) during the food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids. Especially the part with the standoff between Rose Byrne and Kristen Wiig over a bowl of Jordan almonds in the snooty bridal shop. It’s where Kristen’s character sweats profusely while she swears she’s feeling great, even ‘hungry.’ It ends with Maya Rudolph slowly sinking to the street in a wedding gown as she poops herself. I bust a gut just thinking about it!

Give me your best original inspirational quote—something that could easily be mass-produced on embroidered pillows.

Here’s the line I have on my e-mail. It’s what I want us all to do: ‘Keep up the good.’

I gleaned it from a friend’s mom who was in her 90s. I met her after a concert, and we took time to sit and chat. We held our heads close together since she was hard of hearing, and there was a din in the room. At the close of our conversation, she reached her hands out to mine, smiled into my eyes, and said, ‘Keep up the good, love.’ 

That felt so special. In her honor and to follow her inspiration, I always say, ‘Keep up the good.’ It seems to resonate with people. In fact, let’s all do it!

If you’re an extra on a movie set, what’s the absolute best extra gig to have? 

If I were an extra, I’d get a kick out of being on a dance floor. When they film big scenes where the stars have dialogue at a dance or club, there is actually no music in order to get clean audio for their conversation. It would be so silly to dance to no music all day. 

Bonus 5th Question: Be honest! Who’s your biggest social media crush? 

I seem to like every post that Adam Grant posts. He is a leadership guru and hosts a podcast, too. 

Categories: Culture