Interview: Shannen Michaelsen

Today we’re joined by Shannen Michaelsen. Shannen is a phenomenal filmmaker and podcaster who has a number of projects. As a filmmaker, they specialize in webseries, which are produced through RSC, an affiliate of ParaFable. As a co-founder of RSC, Shannen has been able to produce four webseries and two podcasts. They have a few podcasts that they participate in, including a Dungeons & Dragons one. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a co-founder of Remarkable, Singular, Curious Productions, and an affiliate of the collective ParaFable. Through RSC and ParaFable, I have produced four webseries and two podcasts.

My first webseries was “The Adventures of Jamie Watson (and Sherlock Holmes)”, a literary-inspired webseries based on Sherlock Holmes. I co-wrote the series and played our aroace Sherlock Holmes, and was therefore the first Holmes in film to be canonically aroace. After two years of “TAJWASH”, I decided to work on a few short-form shows. I wrote, produced, and starred in “Hamlet the Dame.” I then co-wrote and co-produced “Eddy Rex” (Oedipus Rex) and “Dear Natalie” (A Christmas Carol).

With ParaFable, I produce and DM the dungeons & dragons podcast, Daring Fables. And with RSC, my sister and I occasionally host Pop Culture Pie. I’m also a host of MuggleNet.com’s Fantastic Beasts podcast, SpeakBeasty.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by classic literature, obviously. Sherlock Holmes has always been a particularly important character to me. I’ve identified with him as both an asexual and autistic person, and that’s why making “TAJWASH” was so important to me. In Daring Fables, I take a lot of inspiration from old fairytales and myths. I’m also inspired by all the music I listen to, and like to create playlists for different stories and characters.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always been creative. My dad has worked in TV news my entire life, so I was always interested in filming. My friends and I made music videos and vlogs when I was a kid. I’ve been writing stories since elementary school. Webseries have been a great way to combine both art-forms. I got interested in literary-inspired webseries specifically after watching “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”, and then working on “Notes By Christine.” As for podcasts, I joined SpeakBeasty when it first started and never looked back. Podcasts are an entirely different kind of art, but I’ve found them to be a great way to just talk to friends every couple weeks.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Well, almost all of my main characters are asexual, and most of my stories are about friendship. Most of my webseries have a reference to another one of my shows or one of my friends’ shows, either with a line of dialogue or some kind of imagery.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep consuming the kind of art that you want to create. Keep reading, watching, listening, and admiring. The more you understand how other people create their art, the better you’ll understand how you can create your own. And just remember that everybody’s process is different, so don’t worry if you’re going about it in a different way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t encountered prejudice, but I have encountered a lack of representation. That is part of the reason it has been so important for me to create shows with ace characters. Not only am I creating representation for myself and others, but I’m showing other creators that ace characters can have great, engaging stories.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The most common misconception I’ve encountered is that asexuality means not having sex. Of course many ace people have sex or want sex, and many ace people don’t. Many ace people are uncomfortable hearing about sex, many ace people aren’t. We’re just like everybody else, with our own individual needs and desires!

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Ignore the discourse. Remember that there are people who accept you. Don’t feel the need to come out if you don’t want to. Focus on yourself and not everybody else.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

They can visit remarkablesingularcurious.tumblr.com, theadventuresofjamiewatson.tumblr.com, or parafable.tumblr.com. Or they can search on YouTube for my various webseries, and iTunes for my podcasts.

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Thank you, Shannen, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

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