Episode 50: Make it Happen with Shandi Kano
Start with why. This week's podcast is all about making it happen - and who better to be our guest than producer Shandi Kano? Shandi talks the perks of freelancing, putting dreams into action, and balancing athletic pursuits with work life. If you need a reminder to get shit done, this is it!
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Lisa: Welcome to episode 13 season for Outside by Design. Hello. These are your hosts Lisa…
Iris: And Iris.
Lisa: From Wheelie in Whitefish, Montana. Today is a really fun episode for me because I got to talk to a really good friend of mine who is an awesome snowboarder and a prolific Runner and a super super badass producer and just an all-around good human.
Iris: Yeah today, we have Shandi Kano and she is all about getting shit done. So if you need a little bit of inspiration in your life on this Thursday to get some shit done, this is the episode for you.
Lisa: Yep. Shandi is a professional producer. She's a master multitasker and she is awesome. The coolest thing about Shandi... well, there's a million cool things about Shandi, but my favorite thing about Shandi is how chill she is even in the face of extreme chaos. So she talks a little bit about producing video shoots on a moving train and being able to find work and have a very successful career as a freelance producer. Sometimes we have people in the podcast who speak negatively about freelancing. So this is a good one where someone is stoked on freelancing and the lifestyle that it affords her to live.
Iris: Yeah. This is a great episode and Shandi goes into kind of her idea of manifestation and making things happen in her life. So get ready. Here we go.
Lisa: Shandi, thanks so much for being on our podcast today. First question we ask everybody is where are you? What are you looking at?
Shandi: Right now I am on my bed and I am looking at my computer screen and downloads from three years ago that I'm throwing away.
Lisa: Yes, it's pretty boring. And you're in Salt Lake City.
Shandi: I'm in Salt Lake City.
Lisa: And you are a professional producer.
Shandi: Yeah, I've actually never been called a professional producer. But yes.
Lisa: So our audience... we haven't had a producer on the show yet. Tell us what you do. We've had a lot of photographers and videographers but no producers.
Shandi: Mmm. Well, I am their lifeline. I mean if they if they work with producers, I make them do their job. Well, if a videographer well, I guess if the director, a DP, I mean, any agency, any creative brief has a vision, I make that vision come to life through all sorts of means. So I will scout... I will location scout. I will cast your talent. I will help you write your script. I will finagle anything that needs to be finagled for certain shots or scenes. I make sure people get fed, and make sure people get paid, and make sure people look pretty if they have to, make sure they have the right things to wear. If we need to be on top of a moving train. We're on top of a moving train and if we need to be staging pregnancy at a hospital we’ll do that too. So any vision that creatively needs to happen, most likely it’s visual, is something that I can do.
Lisa: That's amazing that such a... it's broad... so many things.
Shandi: There's a lot of things. Which is why I like it, because it's different every day.
Lisa: So tell us as a producer. What are you working on that you're excited... or like, what's the what's the craziest thing you've done as a producer?
Shandi: Craziest thing I've done?
Shandi: I don't know. I think you have to define crazy because there's a scale of crazy. And I don't know that anything I've done is particularly crazy in my book. But something that was really fun was filming on top of a moving train last year. And it was the same train that is in a Breaking Bad episode when they stopped and like try to cipher out whatever that fluid is they needed to make their product down in Santa Fe, New Mexico. So it was fun, we had climbing harnesses on and ropes and our director Sean was standing on top of a moving train with a movi and a Red Weapon, I believe it was. You know, and we're just moving along on this train and we had full command of it which is really cool. No one fell off. So that was good. But you know, I guess some people might call that crazy. We just thought it was really fun and cool. But I don't know if anything really defines as crazy for me.
Lisa: That is... I mean that's a pretty wild, like insurance companies would be angry at you kind of activity.
Shandi: We were insured. We were definitely insured.
Lisa: Because you're a producer and you make sure of it.
Shandi: That's right.
Lisa: Mmm. So, how did you get into this?
Shandi: How did I get into producing?
Shandi: So I went to communications broadcast school, my dream as a younger version of myself was to be a sideline reporter for the NFL like Michele Tafoya that sort of thing, but I quickly learned that I am not great in front of the camera and I was much better behind it in terms of like storytelling, editing, and I really appreciated the process that went into putting a story together both visually and narratively. And then my first job was at ESPN and I was, you know, working all the highlights you got to see back then when digital media was first a thing and... eventually transitioned into producing content for the X Games both live... live events, and you know, year round content digitally. And then I did that for 6 years, came back to Utah, and I've been freelance producing... yeah, 2019. So, six, six years.
Lisa: And do you love freelancing?
Shandi: Oh, yeah, I love, I love freelancing. I love... yeah. I love what I do every day.
Lisa: And do you... how does it work for you to find your own work? Is that something that you just build momentum off of constantly?
Shandi: I would say... I think most freelancers would say when it rains it pours and a lot of us feel like we got to take it all as it's coming. And I think there's definitely times like that. But you know, it started slow. I think like everyone, it starts slow. And for me, most of the work is word of mouth which is really nice and you know, the more jobs you take, the more people you get to meet and the more your network expands and the more that people will remember you and call you. And so yeah... it... yeah, I think... I have so many thoughts on freelance world, especially when it comes to creative work. But yeah, it's... getting work for me has been, you know, trying at times but the last three, three, four years have been really fruitful and really great. And I would say I think anytime anyone asks a question like this, I'm always the busiest I've ever been, and right now I'm the busiest I've ever been. Which is you know, it keeps keeps changing and it keeps always being like that which is... which is really great. So, so yeah.
Lisa: Do you like the solo the solo aspect and freedom of freelancing or do you ever want to like start hiring assistants for yourself? What do you, what do you see as your vision as you get busier and busier?
Shandi: I just... it totally depends. Right now I've got a couple projects I've hired out for because I don't have time, which is always a bummer because I like to touch a bunch of different things at the same time. I like to have different projects and using different parts of my brain and skill set. But I think... you know, if I could find a project manager that I could truly rely on and trust that would be nice to have someone kind of as an assistant, you know, sometimes, but I think for me I'll probably always roll solo because I like to be really autonomous and I like to have control of my surroundings and situations. And you know, there's a certainty that comes with freelancing. And I think that is also tied to responsibility because it is kind of all on you. And the team's you put together and I really like that and there isn't always certainty with other people. If you’re giving them your work and maybe that's a problem I have, but... but yeah, no, I think yeah, I think ultimately I free... I started freelancing because I wanted to have a certain kind of lifestyle. And I get to have that now and if I had to you know, be responsible for more people and things like that, I think that would change. So I do foresee this as a solo act but it would be great to be able to have someone that I could turn to when things things that really busy and give projects to. And like.. like right now I am doing that in a couple... in a couple different areas but isn't in producing itself, it's just in, you know, copywriting or strategy and consulting and stuff like that.
Lisa: Yeah, it seems like on Instagram you're always doing like insanely fun things or you're in amazing locations and so much variety is what it looks like from the outside.
Shandi: Yeah, totally. It totally is variety. And actually like next week I think I just got picked up to produce a shoot for jewelry, you know, and then in a couple weeks were doing a shoot for like healthcare. Last week we did a shoot for an outdoor clothing brand. So it is, it's variable. And I'm also writing... we're working on a script right now for like a corporate tech company, so it is all over the place.
Lisa: Yeah, that's a lot of different stuff.
Shandi: Spice of life, Lisa.
Lisa: That's right. That's that's what I like about being an agency as well as that we're always learning new things and getting all kinds of different projects and I'm never ever bored.
Shandi: Yeah. Yeah. That is true.
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Lisa: Iris, I really liked what Shandi said about when you're freelancing you get to trust yourself.
Lisa: And it's really interesting in my life right now self-trust and trusting in yourself has become this really really weird theme of the week and manifestation and it reminds me of a story that I'm going to tell you.
Lisa: So I was mountain biking last week. And I spooked a wolf. And it was only three feet from me.
Iris: Oh my gosh.
Lisa: A giant wolf. And then it jumped about 15 or 16 feet away from me. And I was on my bike. I stopped, and I was just staring at this wolf. We just stared at each other for a while. And I wasn't scared even though I should have been.
Iris: Yeah you should have been.
Lisa: Yeah, I know, it was the first time I've ever seen a wolf and it was huge. Giant. And it just stared at me and then it turned around and walked away.
Iris: It must have not been hungry.
Lisa: But the wolf is a symbol of self trust. Trusting in yourself. It knew I was a vegetarian and would taste bad.
Iris: That's probably true. It could smell the vegetarian on you.
Lisa: Yeah, but it’s really interesting. And now Shandi’s talking about putting a lot of, you know, responsibilities around herself and knowing how to how to get the amount of work that she needs to live the life that she wants and this is just a weird manifestation of self-trust that keeps coming up in my life this week.
Iris: Yeah. Well, speaking of manifestation, Shandi’s about to get into what that means for her.
Iris: So let's do it.
Lisa: So what is your advice to a brand who wants to hire like a film crew or something? Do you recommend that they hire the film crew and then the film crew finds the producer or what comes first, the chicken or the egg? The producer or the film crew?
Shandi: Both. This has happened both ways for me, a lot of times. And I think it's kind of dependent on the relationship and who it's coming from. A lot of times people will know that I'm working on stuff and so they'll say, well, how do we get that? And that is an example of me calling in you know, the directors that I feel are fit for their job or their budget or the creative or you know, whatever it is. And then other times directors... will... like, say okay. Well, here's this, you know, they get called for a gig and they need someone to you know, make it come to life. So then they will call me. But advice... I think, I don't know. I think it depends on what you want. And you know, if you know a director whose vision you really like you may call them first and you know, they... then they can say here's a producer that I work with to make these things happen. And then like I said, well sometimes it... they'll call me first because they know me and then I'm kind of their gateway to a network of people that can fit their needs.
Lisa: So awesome. You're just a connector and a maker and a doer.
Shandi: I am a connector. Pay me for my network.
Lisa: The word of the month, by the way, we always have a word of the month on the podcast and yours is manifestation. So speaking of like connector tunnels and things, what... what does manifestation mean to you?
Shandi: I don't know that manifestation has ever meant anything to me until I was given this word and so I've thought about it a little bit and I think... what manifestation means to me is like being really present with where you are? Because I think if you want things to happen, you can make those things happen. And to me, manifestation means showing up to make that happen. And I think... I thought about this last night, like in snowboarding if you want to go somewhere that's where you look. And I think it feels the same way for me here. If you want to go somewhere, you're looking there and you are... you are taking yourself there. So I guess... I think for, you know, manifestation generally might feel like an ethereal kind of thing and for me, it just means... well, I'm a producer, so it means getting shit done.
Lisa: That’s perfect. I like your snowboard analogy. Have you... have you ever had a hard time like accomplishing a task at work and then put so much brain power into it you feel that it showed up because you wanted it to so badly? And you like manifested the solution?
Shandi: Yeah, I think you know for thinking of like willing things to happen if that's kind of the definition we're rolling with instead of just like making it. Then yeah, all the time. I think I do believe in like good energies and karmas and putting things out there and believing in them. I would say yeah, I mean all the time. Are you looking for like a specific example, maybe?
Shandi: I mean, finding a train that would let you film on top of it! But I think in production there's so many situations you find yourself in that are like weird and unexpected. And so half the time I'm tax with stuff that's just like like… you start to realize that like, those things that you see on TV or in ads or whatever or like, you know, you start to back into things. You're like, oh, yeah, someone had to go and find that location and set this lighting up and so... I'm getting off track. But... but yeah, I think right now we are working on a project for Zion National Park that you know, you're aware of and in the beginning they came to us with this idea that they wanted to create a new park film. So when you go to the park you go to the visitor center and there's like a film that plays every 30 minutes. And they had a really cool concept and their whole purpose was to spread a message of stewardship because it's an overrun place, you know, being loved to death and what have you. And I think in the beginning we were like… you know, they gave us a script they gave us this idea. And my first thing was well, this is so much bigger than... just, it's not going to live just in Zion. This message is so huge. And so we I think essentially have willed an entire campaign out of it. You know, we've got a PR agency now, we've got an entire campaign for the next year, film tour, festivals, and a long form film too. So I feel like you know, they gave us their budget, they gave us their desire and we said, Hey, why don't we spice things up a little bit. We need like, way more money and you guys need all of this stuff too. And we just feel like every piece that has gone into that whether it's you know, just been the Personnel or all the different things that it's needed to touch. I think we've kind of will that to happen. And I guess even... you know, we've made that happen, too. We made that sale, we made... you know this whole thing come to life and yeah. I think that's how I like to do everything is just to make things happen. I'm probably going to say that too much.
Lisa: No, it's definitely a very important trait of yours that I admire a lot about you. You're just always making making things happen and doing things and trying hard and so I'm curious like how do you handle rejection?
Shandi: Find a way, I guess. Find a different way.
Lisa: [laughs] You don't take no.
Shandi: I mean... really, I mean. Yeah, I don't know. You just... I think... I think you can get creative and find another way. Yeah, but... and that might mean adjusting expectations, it might mean adjusting a visual idea, but there's always a way I think to make it... to make people happy, I guess, to give people what they want. Even if it isn't like the first thing they had envisioned. Yeah. I mean, are we still talking about in work here or in life?
Lisa: It's kind of like, where's the line there anyway?
Shandi: Yeah, I know. Good point.
Lisa: Yeah, it's interesting when... especially on video and creative projects that have a lot of heart. How do you align with a director's vision and a client's vision and make everybody stoked because it seems like you're kind of the middle person in a lot of your projects.
Shandi: How do you align with the director’s vision? Um, well I guess it's easy for me because I I'm in the game to help everyone find something that's happy. I don't have any personal... it isn't my vision. I don't have any teeth there, and if I do, you know, I work with directors in a creative way, right? So a lot of times I'm referred to as a creative producer. So I have ideas and Concepts and thoughts that can help them but... I think it's easy when your... when my whole purpose is to make everyone happy and to make the director like look good. I think sometimes, I guess like in the example I gave you with like this Zion project, I mean, they had a vision and then we up sold them. Right, and we kind of said well, here's your vision but here's our vision on your vision. And I think because you know, it's creative people. That's what we're good at and that's what people come to us for. It was easy to make this sale because we understood what they wanted and we were able to communicate to them how we can bring this to life for them. I don't know. Is that kind of what you're looking for?
Lisa: Oh, yeah. Yeah, our audience is like a lot of editorial and so they're just going to be really interested in your process because no they don't go through it.
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Lisa: I really enjoyed how Shandi related her job and her life to snowboarding and looking where you want to go because Shandi's an amazing snowboarder and probably my favorite... well, it's true. Shandi, you're definitely my favorite female to snowboard with in the whole wide world. I love snowboarding with Shandi. And you know, it's so much fun and it is really nice when you can definitely get on the same page as somebody whether it's business or life or whatever and you're just ripping through trees knowing where you want to go and looking where you want to go. Mmm. If you look down, you go down.
Iris: Yeah. I thought that was an interesting way to frame your goals: choosing your line, looking at it, and then figuring out how to get there. And it's something that we do all the time on the trailer on the mountain or whatever so it's...
Lisa: Or with project strategy.
Iris: Yeah, so it's the exact same thing in business or your personal life setting goals - saying I want to go there or I want to jump off that. And doing it. Let's get back to Shandi.
Lisa: So do you want to talk about running?
Shandi: [laughs] I guess. Do you want to talk about running? We talk about running a lot.
Lisa: We always talk about running. Well, so yeah, because I'm working on trying to run a marathon and I would not have been able to do this without you because you're giving me so much advice about running and I very much appreciate it and like, how do you... you're an athlete and... and sometimes I see you in different ads which makes me really happy when I go to a website and see you. So, like, how do you balance your athletic pursuits with your career?
Shandi: It's not always easy. But I think that's, you know, part of the freelance life that I really wanted was so I could have that. I also work with a coach who is really into pairing your physical pursuits with the rest of your life because they go hand-in-hand. You know, I don't think people realize that like, if you are really mentally burnt out isn't always nice to do something physical. Sometimes it's relieving, but sometimes you’re... you know, it's affected your whole physiology. So. My coach is awesome. And he's aware of my frantic lifestyle and he knows that I'm on shoots for weeks at a time. And so he, you know has me back off... and... and also I think I've had to learn that like, you know, you can have plans and you can have goals but you don't know when the winds are going to change and I think being able to roll with things and roll with the changes and not beat yourself up when those things happen and just know that it's just part of a flow is just... But I think the balance is always shifting, you know, especially in this kind of career and you can be a producer at an agency and the balance is still always going to shift. And so even, you know, for me, you know, today I'm working like three different projects and tomorrow maybe I'm working on just one and you know tomorrow my workout is much harder. So it's... it's like always shifting and I think for me the balance is that I'm always like… flexible with it. Because it's not... you can't be super rigid and in production, you can't be rigid because things happen, weather changes and lighting goes bad and you have to think on your feet. So I think you know to balance that stuff. It's sometimes I just don't... like sometimes you just, you just can't do it. And then you take advantage of the times that you can. So like the last time we were in Zion, I actually didn't run at all because we had 5 a.m.’s every morning and we were eating dinner, you know in a car out of a box at 10:30 p.m. And that's just how it goes. But other times in Zion I'm able to run every morning before interviews or whatever. And then obviously when I'm home, I just, you know, I plan my day every night before so I know what's ahead. But I can't really... I can’t plan too far in advance with that stuff because it's just always shifting and I'm cool with that and a lot of people aren't cool with that, with that kind of like structureless structure, but I really like it.
Lisa: Yeah, I think that's awesome. What do you think running and manifestation have in common?
Shandi: I mean, I don't know. I just think if you want something you... you got to go get it and I think with running... my relationship is with running is like so long. And like, storied. So... and it changes. So I also have... you know, people have always said, people always say that like running is really mental and for me, it was never really mental until just a couple of years ago. And so I'm learning to prep my mind differently when I'm going into certain weeks or certain workouts or you know certain runs. But I guess, for me that's... just like... I don't know, just preparing, just being aware and being present. Yeah, I don't know. I feel like I'm really failing at talking about the one thing. I'm really good at. [laughs]
Lisa: That's a heavy question.
Shandi: It is. Yeah, it's really heavy. I mean, yeah, I mean last week I didn't want to run at all. It's sucked. Every day was hard and I was tired every single day in my workout. I was like man, I'm just mentally not there, you know, and so it's yeah, but I think... I think long term for me, I mean, I really enjoy racing. And I think when I like have those like longer-term goals where I'm working at something for like, you know, six months. For me, it's like, it's like that constant looking forward to where you're going. And when you get to race day, like I really appreciate those moments because you can't do anything else but be really present in that moment and you're like... you're in the act of getting it done which again is something I really like. And so, like, yeah, that's a moment for me where I feel like I'm really able to manifest what I've been wanting because I've been like preparing for it for so long. Yeah, and when you're like in a moment like that, you... it's... yeah, I mean, I think it's really beautiful because it's happening and you're in it. And yeah, you're making it happen.
Lisa: Totally. I think that's a great answer. And our last question on the podcast is what's your advice to someone who works at a brand or they’re freelancing, really anyone who wants to tell a story in marketing?
Shandi: You got to know why. I think you gotta know why you're telling that story, why it's important, why people care. And I think that goes with anything, while you're choosing that photographer. Why you want this producer? Why you don't want a producer. Why you want this location. Why you want to have that for lunch. I think it all ties in, you know, especially if your client’s going to be there it ties into an experience that you may or may not want them to have. Ties in eventually to an experience that your audience can have. I think sometimes you can look at content and you know, you can... For me. Anyway, I look a lot of content and I am just like, well why? And I think you can tell when a production is done well because everything that's going on behind the scenes, like the mood to that production, the mood to that set, the mood to that shoot comes through in a final piece. And so if you know where you stand and you know where you land, and I think that all comes down to knowing why are doing something and... yeah, I guess that'd be my advice, always know always know why you're doing it.
Lisa: That's perfect. Great. That's perfect. Where can people follow you? Or find you, stalk you on the internet?
Shandi: Well, I mean gosh if that's what you're interested in. My Instagram handle is @ShandiKK, which is S-H-A-N-D-I-K-K. My website is also Shandikk.com and well, if you want to stalk me Good Luck.
Lisa: Because your real fast.
Shandi: [laughs] I guess I wasn't thinking that, but this is creepy and I'll hunt you down.
Lisa: I'll be at least two minutes behind your mile but I will get there.
Shandi: Yeah, well and I would say, you know shameless plug. I'm really excited about this project we’re on for Zion. I mean, there's a lot of other stuff going on right now, but follow that because we'll be... I think our press release will come out in a few weeks and I'll be really excited to share all about that really cool project we're doing. So yeah.
Shandi: Or you can come to Salt Lake and go running or ski touring. Spring is awesome.
Lisa: Cool. Thank you for being on the podcast.
Shandi: Thank you for having me!
Iris: Thanks so much for being on the show this week, Shandi!
Lisa: And Shandi with marathon is this Saturday and I followed your training plan. And I feel really good. You're the best.
Iris: She's gonna rock it. So. Thank you, and everyone can check out her socials and her website. They are linked in the show notes, and we can't wait for you to hear our episode next week. So subscribe. Leave us a review if you want to show us some love. Thanks so much. Bye Bye.