Featured PA Filmmaker - Katie Shenot

Friday, December 20, 2019 1:04 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

 Katie Shenot is a 2003 graduate of Point Park University with a degree in Musical Theater. Upon graduation, Katie began working with Nancy Mosser Casting in Pittsburgh and is still with the company under the title of Casting Director. Her work includes Film and Television projects such as "Downward Dog", "Love the Coopers", "The Dark Knight Rises", "Perks of Being a Wallflower", "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", "Banshee; Season 4", "The Fault in Our Stars", "She's Out of My League" and many more. She has also cast hundreds of commercials both locally and nationally. She is a proud member of PAFIA as well as Women in Film and Media.

What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it? 
On the Amazon feature film, I’m Your Woman, we had to cast a 1970s nightclub scene with hundreds of background. Finding hundreds of people for period scenes can be extremely difficult because it requires that they have the right hair, no tattoos and be able to fit the costumes, which are real vintage clothing from the 70s. We also don’t reuse people who’ve been in other scenes so it was all new faces.  Seeing it come together on film was exhilarating and worth the weeks of hard work! 

How did you get started in the film industry?
I majored in Musical Theater but knew by the time I graduated that I wanted to have a career in Casting.  I called Nancy Mosser about an internship and the rest is history!

Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania? 
I love that the crew is family here across both sides of the state. We are amongst the hardest working and most professional in the industry and this is coming from the many Executive Producers and Directors who have filmed here.  Pennsylvania has a myriad of filming locations and can play any time period.  I feel like there is heart here and a true passion for filmmaking.

What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
I have great memories of shooting the entire end fight sequence of Dark Knight Rises on the steps of the Mellon Institute.  A remote location in North Park for the upcoming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was probably my most magical on-set experience.  I also loved filming at Kennywood for Adventureland because it’s an iconic location and it brought it back full-circle for me since I worked there in college in the stage shows.

What do you love the most about your job?
It’s never the same! I am very fortunate to not have a typical 9-5 job and I get to be creative.  Giving someone news that they’ve been cast is also a highlight. You’ve never seen someone be happier than being told that they got the part!

What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
Awkward! I remember during Jack Reacher, I was at the Production office for a meeting with the ADs and had to run to the restroom. When coming back, I strode through a door I thought was the room I had just been in and had my head down and walked straight into a mat where Tom Cruise and Jae Courtney were rehearsing an intense fight scene with the Stunt Coordinator and Director. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at me.  I was mortified.

What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
I think that we have to validate ourselves more. That exists even for those of us who have been doing our jobs for years.

What is your advice for other women in film?
Keep your head in the game. Try to remember that just because something really stressful is happening, you have to pick yourself up and find a solution because there will be another fire around the corner. This is a fast-moving industry and not everyone is cut out for it but you have a lot of sisters around you to talk to and approach for advice.  We are always willing to help.

Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects? 
We will be working on an Indie project in the next couple of months and are staying busy with our Commercial clients.

PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
Without the film tax credit, the film industry in PA will virtually disappear.

 That incentive is the reason that productions continue to bring projects of all sizes here.  I’m a proud Pennsylvania Film Industry Association board member and I believe in our mission to spread awareness of the crucial benefits of the credit.  It brings young people to live, work and raise families here, which is something that the state desperately needs. Because so much of the budget needs to be spent in Pennsylvania, the boost in business is something that many local vendors have come to rely upon.  I would have to move if the credit went away.

What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
Take classes and workshops!  Mingle and get to know people from all facets of the film industry. Connections are so important so you want to build solid relationships with reputable business professionals.  Lean on your local film office!  They are always willing to let you know if something or someone isn’t legit and they likely will have updates on current projects that are filming.  Join groups like PAFIA that help connect you with a community. If you’re an actor, watch what you post on social media.  Best bet, have a public actor page and a private personal page.  You never know who you may be offending if you like to post about hot button issues which could cost you work.

What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
Find the reputable Casting Directors in your region.  I’m a big believer in being involved in the theater community to stay sharp with your acting skills.   For crew members, make sure you are listed with the Film office for when productions are looking for crew. 

What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
Don’t gossip. Everyone knows everyone.  My motto is to be kind to everyone. You never know who could be hiring you in the future!

What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
I’m actually going to say a series. Downward Dog!  It’s a shame that it was a critical darling but didn’t have time to land a big audience before it was canceled.  Working on that show never felt like work. We’ve been working with Animal, Inc for many years so that was an added bonus to shoot with dear friends.

What is your favorite project that you worked on?
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It was an extremely special project and I will always hold that film close.

What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
I’d love to see Casting become a category at the Oscars! It’s a long time coming.  As a member of the Casting Society of America, we are all hopeful that this is something that will come to pass soon.  What would a movie be without Casting? 

What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
Anyone who wants to be on file with us can go to www.mossercasting.com under “For Talent” and create a free talent profile.  That puts them in our database and they’ll start to receive emails from us when we have casting needs.  Also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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