We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Snavely and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Storytelling possesses intrinsic properties – but it’s what you do with the story that really matters.
As a filmmaker who has been fortunate enough to make a living “creating” for the last decade, I’ve found myself increasingly interested in films/concepts that have some social change element to them. While creating content in the travel and tourism space has been my bread and butter for most of that time, I’ve recently made a strategic and intentional shift towards narrative and documentary storytelling. Often these mediums have the unique ability to pull audiences into an immersive experience, taking the time to build empathy and increase one’s sense of understanding. And maybe it was becoming a father, or perhaps it’s just part of getting older, but the truth is, what I spend my time and energy on now, is more important to me than ever before. If I’m lucky enough to share a story that can help change a mind, change a life, or even change a policy (whether through films or commercials), I think that’s something worth investing in, both personally and financially.
One such opportunity came after a string of school shootings across the country left me feeling like I had to use my talent and resources to help be a catalyst for change. I wrote and directed a gun violence PSA, and with the help of theater students from Verdugo Hills High School, an array of companies ranging from ARRI to FotoKem to MPC, and sponsored by Kodak, we were able to bring to life a powerful piece that I hope will be a conversation starter for years to come. You can read more about it and view it here at www.enoughpsa.com.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Film school wasn’t in the cards for me, so when I graduated from college, I spent the better part of a year traveling the globe and soaking up all the culture, food, and worldly knowledge that I could. When I got back home, I knew I didn’t want to return to the job I had left, so I decided to teach myself to edit. I tracked down a copy of Final Cut Pro 7 on craigslist and spent day and night learning the basics until I was able to finally get a part-time editing job at my local church – it didn’t pay well, but I didn’t care. This has really been the story of my career – have a passion for something you have no idea how to do and figure out a way to do it anyway.
Fast forward to today, I’ve been fortunate to have owned and operated a successful boutique production company (Part-Time Genius) in Los Angeles for the last six years. Along the way, I’ve made incredible friends and filmmaking allies that, in a sense, have really become like family. That’s the thing about this industry, it’s a small community, and when you are lucky enough to find good people to collaborate with, you keep them around for as long as you can. You celebrate each other’s victories and successes and commiserate when things don’t go as you had planned.
Lately, I’ve been working on something that I’m very excited about: A short film I wrote and will be directing soon titled “Think Lovely Thoughts.” Not only is this the first real shift into doing some narrative work of my own, but it deals with a subject that is very personal to me – mental health. It centers around the push/pull for one man’s sanity while his uncontrollable subconscious tears at his grip on reality. I deliberately chose to cast a black male lead as personal experience and research have revealed a certain stigma around BIPOC males regarding this topic. At its core, this is a film about identity, mental illness, and the resilience of the human spirit. I want to take the audience into the eye of the storm. Leave the viewer feeling the sting that this debilitating disease plagues millions with every day. And hopefully help move the conversation forward, creating an even more empathetic society along the way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love this city. There’s no shortage of amazing places to eat, drink, or visit while you’re here. And honestly, it’s hard to choose just one or two that are my absolute favorites. So assuming COVID isn’t throwing a wrench in things, here is a very short list of places I think everyone should try or visit at least once while they’re here:
– Republique (Modern French Cusine)
– Ye Old Kings Head (Dive Bar)
– Disneyland (The Happiest Place on Earth)
– A show at The Hollywood Bowl
– Hamasaku (Phenom Sushi Spot)
– Lawry’s the Prim Rib (Old Beverly Hills restaurant serving fantastic prime rib. Go during the holidays, thank me later)
– Go on a hike (There are amazing hikes all over the city. Don’t miss out on this)
– Take a drive up the PCH (Incredible views)
– Nosh through Grand Central Market (Foods from around the world all in one place)
– The Last Bookstore (One of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever been to)
– Watch a sunset on the beach The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, this is a tough question to answer, but only because there are so many people that I could list here from the creative director that took a chance on me at twenty-five with my Canon 5D Mark ii in hand (not really knowing what I was doing) to all the filmmakers that allowed me to be on their sets (working, watching, and learning), to the abundance of incredibly talented crews that I’ve been fortunate enough to hire and work with over the years. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here today, still doing what I love for a living if it wasn’t for each and every one of them. That said, if there were one individual that I had to single out, it would be my wife. We’ve been together for my entire filmmaking career, and she has always pushed me to be better, always held me accountable, and always made sure my ego didn’t get in the way. Simply put, she has never given up on me or this wild dream that I’m chasing. And for that, I’m forever grateful.