Leading by Example: Shawn Clark
September 29, 2022
This week we’re interviewing Shawn Clark, our Head of Production. Shawn has decades of experience producing films and videos that have taken him all over the world. Today we’ll hear his thoughts on Hothouse’s past, present and future.
Haley Robinson: So, how did you get started in video production?
Shawn Clark: I started in finance at Turner Broadcasting. In my area at work everyone wore a suit and tie. But there was a fun group two cubicles over from me (in shorts!) that was in video production. One day, the production lead walked out of his office and said, “if there’s anyone in this f***ing building that can snow ski you can have a job tomorrow!”. I was the only northerner there and went to my boss and asked him if I could interview for that job. I got it and got to spend some time as a production assistant at ski resorts in Colorado shooting for the Airport network. That evolved into being a Producer and working on Scooby-Doo and Mary-Kate and Ashley (among others).
HR: How did you find Hothouse?
SC: I had production company with Scott Benson (from Turner Broadcasting) for 20 years. But the entertainment business was changing so much and many had built in-house studios. We needed to evolve and begin working with brands. We had done a bit of work with Hothouse before and were renting space at their office. When Scott retired, I rolled our studio under Hothouse so we could serve our clients better together. I really connected with the people at Hothouse and realized it was not your typical agency but was more like a family.
HR: The content studio has come a long way. How has it evolved to meet changing client needs?
SC: These days, a lot of agencies go to external post studios, which can cause a lot of disconnect. But at Hothouse we have everything in-house and have developed a network of great partners to come alongside us. Our content studio allows us to become very reactive to client needs, producing content at scale efficiently and effectively. Historically, we used to treat video and creative as two separate departments. But Sarah O’Bryan (VP, Group Creative Director) and I have been able to bring the teams together to create a truly collaborative team.
HR: How does Hothouse bring value through content at scale?
SC: Easily. Right now, we can develop content in different languages, shapes, and sizes. This year we’ve already produced content for eight different countries!
HR: You wear a lot of hats. What’s your biggest contribution to the Hothouse team?
SC: I think being a team player and coach. Even when I come in hot (which is often), I’m very approachable. And that’s because I want everyone to succeed. My motto has always been to treat the janitor the same way as you treat the president. Everyone should be able to give ideas to Jon [Katinsky] and Nick [Schittone], so people can be heard, grow and not get complacent.
HR: Your career has spanned decades. How has the industry changed?
SC: The biggest change is the cost of entry. Equipment is so much cheaper that anyone can get into the business now. Technology is also a game changer. When I started, we were using film, now we can make changes digitally and deliver instantaneously. You truly have to be on you’re A game every day. Hothouse shines because we pair our content production capabilities with an agency strategy piece – and that’s where we shine. Adding the why behind our work is everything.
HR: What’s your favorite shoot experience?
SC: We took five brand-new Mercedes cars and built a snow track out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then we shot winter running footage for them for four days. I love being in the country and working with small, tight-knit crews. It was an absolute blast!
HR: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on a shoot?
SC: When shooting the introduction for the Casablanca DVD, we shot with Lauren Bacall. Her driver came in and took all the food from craft services and put it in her car to take back to the hotel. All of it. I had to order new food for the rest of the crew once she left.
HR: What characteristics define your leadership style?
SC: I hate micromanaging. My goal is to hire people who are smarter and more creative than me. If I see everything start spinning, I can come in and make decisions, but otherwise, I let my people do what we brought them on to do. My thing is to always try to empower people. They will enjoy it more if they are involved in the rest of the process and they’ll grow as an individual.
HR: What is your vision for the creative studio?
SC: In the next 5 years, I plan to have a team of 10-15 people in-house on the production side doing a lot more content at scale for a lot more brands.
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