For every person that successfully breaks into the Hollywood scene, there are hundreds, possibly even thousands of young artists that don’t. It can be a brutal and unforgiving industry to work in. With over 17 years of experience in film, Isaih Shaw is an accomplished director and producer looking to become a household name in not just Hollywood, but the rest of the world. Whilst his achievements thus far have been commendable, he personally wants to continue his growth and development.
Isaih was able to answer a few of our questions regarding his journey up until this point, his experiences and some of the challenges he has encountered along the way.
Isaih, what motivated you to get into films and want to be a Hollywood filmmaker?
I always would watch films when I was a kid growing up in the 70s and that influenced the way I saw the real world. When I got my first opportunity to work in television, it was in public access in Chicago, Illinois. From that point on, I knew this was what I wanted to be a part of. I soon moved to Los Angeles, where I enrolled in Los Angeles City College. I picked up some handy skills there and then began my journey into filmmaking. A lot of the things I have learnt have been self-taught and I began to believe strongly that if you want to learn how to make films, you need to expand your horizons and just do it.
What formal qualifications did you receive to prepare you for this career?
I study at the Academy of Art University, School of Motion Pictures & Television San Francisco, CA. My major was TV and Film production. I spent a great deal of my time there between 2000 and 2006, where I worked as a Producer Assistant Director. In this position, I demonstrated professionalism in directing studio personnel, equipment, and scheduling. In the 2004, I worked as an Associate Producer for the talk show, ‘Video Platform ‘Los Angeles, CA Media One TV. That position prepared me greatly for where I am now.
Do you think your education prepared you adequately for a life in Hollywood?
I think it certainly did. There’s no one clear route to becoming a film director. I had to see for myself that the director’s job is twofold. First, I realised that I needed to formulate a vision for the film. Second, you need to communicate that vision, that concept to every member of the creative team in such a manner that everyone will be inspired, and ultimately offer their best contribution to the film.
Have you received any major awards recently and, if so, have they helped grow your influence?
Whilst I am yet to break into the established industry awards, I have been fortunate enough to win several prestigious awards that have helped me in this industry. Specifically, I won the 2018-2019 Award of Recognition Impact Docs, the 2019 Indie Originals Award, and the 2019 Las Vegas Black Film Festival Award. I was also a finalist in the 2019 producer US Hollywood International Golden Film Award and the 2019 Maverick Movie Award. Additionally, I was the semi-finalist of the 2019 Filmmaker International Film Festival.
In your opinion, what are the best things about being a director and producer of entertainment media?
I want to make films that evoke an emotional reaction from an audience. That’s the best feeling; when your stories make people feel something. The downside is that it’s tough to make enough money to make a living, especially if you are yet to break into Hollywood films. You need to have a lot of determination, patience, be willing to work hard and have some supportive people in your corner.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges you have encountered thus far?
I would have to say financing. It can be very hard to find investors willing to put their time and money into your vision. For me, finding financing is the hardest part of the entire process, primarily because I don’t yet have the influence or clout to have investors throwing money at all my movies. My advice would be to ensure that you have set business plans and budgets with each of your films. Investors love having financial clarity and a sense of direction. If they are hesitant or somewhat confused about where the money is going, don’t expect a lot of financial love.
You recently launched Pacific West Motion Pictures (an independent film production company for our readers). How do you think this will help your career and what type of films do you hope to produce/finance?
This will give me the chance to enter numerous creative relationships with writers, producers, designers, cinematographers, actors, editors, composers and others. There is so much we intend to accomplish this year and the years ahead. At the end of the day, half-baked production quality isn’t worth anyone’s time.
As a principle and general rule, the company is determined to wait until it has received all the support, commitment and funding it requires, before proceeding to the production phase of any television program or motion picture content it intends to achieve. More so, the producer must be proficient in the management of the financial and technical resources of the company. These processes, however, would include the best industry standard development-production, production, post-production, and clearing up practices.
Who are some of your favorite directors, producers or actors you have watched?
I grew up watching the greats like Brian de Palma, Michael Mann, Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone just to name a few. They had the biggest influence on my career goals and where I want to be in 10 years.
What would be your advice to anyone trying to break into Hollywood, whether it be as an actor, director or producer?
The most important thing is you need to believe in yourself – go all out for it. Don’t stop pursuing your passion, otherwise you’ll never get there. You must keep pushing forward to make it happen. You may have to forge your own path and change your ideas to suit others, but this all part of the process to achieving your accomplishments at all costs.
Clearly, Isaih has a lot of potential within the world of Hollywood. His potential to become a well-respected director and film maker is clear, as reflected in his achievements thus far. As he continues to establish himself in the world of Hollywood, make sure to be on the lookout for Isaih Shaw over the next few years.