KC Connection to Hollywood

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Filmmaker and Kansas City native Shawn Edwards brings his Hollywood success back to his hometown with a special screening of his latest movie project, The Intruder, produced by Hidden Empire Film Group. 

Story by Jeanne de Lathouder    |     Photos by Matthew Anderson

Most of us are fascinated with the magic of movies, yet few of us actually turn that fascination into a full-blown career. But for this Kansas City native, it seemed there was no other choice. Intrigued with movies since he was a kid, Shawn Edwards pursued his passion all the way to Hollywood, where he recently finished working on a film called The Intruder starring Dennis Quaid.

“I first fell in love with movies as a kid,” says Shawn, now a senior marketing specialist at Hidden Empire Film Group in Los Angeles. “My mother took me and my sister to the movies every weekend, so one day I told her I wanted to make my own movie. She took me to the library and I checked out a couple of books on how movies are made. I saved enough money to buy a Super 8-millimeter camera and began making movies — yes, I am old,” he jokes. “No iPhones back then. I did a bunch of stop-motion stuff because I was a freak for animation.”

Shawn shot his first film in seventh grade at Lincoln Middle School. His love for film continued while in high school at Lincoln College Prep, where he also took a television production class. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta — Spike Lee’s alma mater — where he studied all of Lee’s student films and also minored in journalism. After graduation he worked as an intern at a small ad agency in Kansas City, where he produced and directed TV and radio commercials. Then he jumped into journalism full time and began writing movie reviews, which helped land him at Fox 4 Kansas City where he is a film critic, sharing his reviews on the “Screening Room.” In 2013, while out in LA on assignment for Fox 4 KC, he met up-and-coming filmmaker, Deon Taylor.

“Deon handed me a DVD of his latest film called   Supremacy,” Shawn recalls.  “I watched it and then gave him notes. He loved my insight, so we developed a friendship. Several years later, he asked me to join his team at Hidden Empire Film Group. My official title is senior marketing specialist, so from spec to finish, my job is to figure out how to market and advertise each film we produce. But the reality is, I do a little bit of everything — read scripts, make casting suggestions, and make food runs while on set,” he laughs.

The Intruder — Shawn’s latest project — is a contemporary thriller about a crazy guy who sells his house to a young couple but then wants it back. The movie opens in theaters nationwide on May 3rd, and in honor of his KC heritage, Shawn hosted a special screening right here in his hometown at the Alamo Drafthouse.

“My film roots began here in Kansas City as a young filmmaker in the 7th grade at Lincoln Middle School — that’s when I shot my very first film,” he says. “So I am proud to share what I’ve been working on as a part of the Hidden Empire Film Group family with my town.”

Starring Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, and Meagan Good, the film was directed by Shawn’s good friend Deon Taylor, who originally approached Dennis to be in The Intruder by writing him a letter.

“Yes, he wrote him a letter!” laughs Shawn. “He said yes and killed it in the film. I’m pretty sure he stayed in character the entire time during the shoot — Dennis is amazing. He did his own stunts and went into overdrive every day. It was like he was a rookie starring in his first film. That was the edge Dennis was giving and it paid off. He’s phenomenal in the movie,” he adds.

Looking to eventually produce his own movies, Shawn has landed some excellent scripts and hopes to find one to produce for Hidden Empire Film Group. He also aspires to one day direct a feature film.

“I have a couple of documentaries I want to produce, including one about the history of Kansas City barbecue,” says the filmmaker. “And I have been actively pitching a travel show called Movie Trip with my girlfriend, which we co-produced,” he adds. “I just love telling stories and creating.”

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