Each week Penguin & Rhino features an artist who’s caught our attention. They could be in theatre, film, music or visual art. The point is we think they’re kick ass and you should know who they are.
Name: Stephanie Yuhas
Who’s on your team?
Matt Conant is my partner in work and life. Together we run Cinevore Studios, a company based near Philadelphia that produces multi-platform smart comedy. We also co-founded Project Twenty1, a 501(c)3 non-profit that runs programs to benefit emerging creatives within film and animation. We have a great team that we’re really happy with that varies from project to project. One week I have an animation team producing music videos, the next, I have my DP dangling out of a helicopter to get the perfect shot. I get to work with so many amazing people, but it’s Matt that has stayed by my side, almost daily, for nine years. And we’re not sick of each other yet! We finally decided to take the plunge and have a big fat geek wedding.
5 things you can’t live without?
5-Miscellaneous island foods – coconuts, avocados, pineapples, mangoes. I have no idea why I live in Philadelphia. 🙂
4-Coffee. I especially like seasonal flavors – pumpkin and gingerbread. You can’t get them year round, so I horde them when they come out.
3-Sleep. I work a lot and don’t take off weekends and most holidays, so I occasionally need to sleep 12-16 solid hours to recover.
2-The Ocean. Growing up as a sheltered child, my old-fashioned family forbid me from swimming in the ocean. And now I can’t get enough!
1-Writing. If I’m not writing, I’m not right in the head.
What’s the best show you’ve seen recently?
30 Rock is the best television show of all time. It’s so sharp and witty – I can watch it over and over and pick up new nuggets of humor each time. As for stuff that’s still on or “new-ish”, Game of Thrones is at the top of my list. I’m so glad there’s a new trend for epic TV that’s based on literature. I like to really dig deep into characters, for longer than a feature film will allow, and then I like to go back and go even deeper in the books.
What are your plans for 2015?
We just got eight more episodes of our series Moot greenlit. It’s a part of Articulate with Jim Cotter for WHYY (Philadelphia’s PBS affiliate), so we’re in the middle of pre-production. I’m about 22 months into a very large project that’s amazing, but top secret. Whenever I work on big stuff, I get “artistic blue balls,” so I need to do a few shortform projects to keep the momentum going. Currently we’re seeking ad partners and representation for twelve new Cinevore shorts, two new book properties, and a feature film. I’m also fundraising to hire some full-time employees for Project Twenty1 and I’ve started work with several new not-for-profit clients and granters in order to create videos for social change.
Most memorable moment of your career thus far?
Looking into the monitor as Crow, Servo, and Joel sat down at the table together for dinner during the final shot of the Shout! Factory’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Special in 2013. The child in my brain screamed, “Look! After all this time, the gang found each other!” The energy, the love – it was all real. I got all misty and felt like a total dork until I turned around to see that all of the other crew members were wiping away tears, too. And then I had to pull myself together to go oil up the turkey again for a pickup shot.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I’ve never wanted to be anything else but a creative – specifically a storyteller. I tried the whole high-paying uncreative job thing and it ate at me, so at this point, if I wasn’t writing, I would be production managing, storyboarding, event coordinating, acting, cold-calling, marketing, pitching, art directing – I will do my best to learn any skill to get myself into a situation that allows me to be a full-time creative storyteller. And I don’t really care if it’s for film or tv, books or blogs, at a storytelling slam or a standup comedy show – I have to tell stories that entertain and move people. The message is more important than the medium.
What advice do you have for people who want to get to where you are?
Be kind, but don’t be a doormat. Too many people burn bridges, backbite, and get into petty, ego-driven, production-ending disagreements within the entertainment industry. This is a team-based business, so you must respect your partners, crew, talent, and fellow creatives. Have zero tolerance for jealousy and one-downsmanship; the success of others within your community is success for the entire community. But being kind does not mean you should be a pushover. You must learn how to say, “No,” ask for fair payment, or walk away from situations that are not truly mutually beneficial. Learning how to communicate your needs and valuing the needs of others is the key to a sustainability, creative fulfillment, and respect – not just in the entertainment industry, but in life. If you don’t believe me, read this book by Andrew Simonet – it’s free.