Filmmaker: a local director has found passion | Features

Just a month ago, Shane Devon wrapped production on his short ‘Ghost-O-Matic’ at the Theater

Empress Theater Workshop in Owensboro.

But before the 44-year-old writer and director set up his own film company Tinker Tone Pictures, Devon – originally Shane Devon Smith – developed a passion for other areas that he still pursues.

Raised in Breckinridge County, Devon became fascinated with music listening to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” before delving into the field himself after being given a keyboard in third grade, while his aunt – a musician herself – gave Devon three music books to start learning the craft.

“She (got) me a Michael Jackson book with all the chords from ‘Thriller,'” he said. “I just started playing with it.”

He enjoyed the feeling that the music gave him and the welcome he received from others.

“I know it (may) sound superficial or shallow or whatever; but every time I started learning music, people started paying attention to it,” he said. “And I was, ‘OK, that feels good. I really like that’.”

Devon started his guitar journey at age 15 in the early 90s at the insistence of his grandfather. Even though Devon’s family didn’t have “a lot of means”, they came to buy his grandfather’s brother a guitar and he started learning songs from some Guitar World magazines.

“I learned every song that was inside of them,” Devon said. “…It opened up the whole world to me.”

Devon remembers a local musician Ray Neff noticed Devon’s interest in music and took him under his wing.

“He started trying to show me everything he knew about music,” he said. “He wrote his own stuff, but he was sort of a (John) Mellencamp type artist.”

Devon continued to develop his musical talents when he became involved in the choir while a student at Breckinridge County High School under Kathy Tabor, who gave Devon the opportunity to to present.

“She was so nice to me and so open to letting me play at the different big events they put on,” he said. “They had a spring revue every year – it was huge – and she let me play (in it). And Breckinridge County is so small; there is nothing to do that everyone came for these events.

In his senior year, Devon debuted his first major solo vocal piece – a cover of Kenny Loggins’ “The Last Unicorn” – in front of 1,000 people, which turned out to be a turning point in Devon’s life. Devon.

“It was amazing,” Devon said. “After that night – just with the response I got – I was like, ‘OK, I have to do this. Music is where I need to be. ”

Tabor helped Devon acquire scholarships to attend Kentucky Wesleyan College as a music education major with the goal of becoming a music teacher.

It was there that Devon met his advisor, Dr. Diane Earle, now professor emeritus of music, who also auditioned Devon for his scholarships and became an influence during his college career.

While at KWC, Devon became a member of the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers vocal ensemble and had the opportunity to perform in England thanks in part to Earle helping Devon secure a grant to pay for the trip.

“Over time, she became a very good friend of mine,” he said.

While Devon went to college to major in the education component of music to appease his family, his real dream was to be a performer.

“I was still writing songs and had a little four-track Tascam recorder that I recorded stuff on that I sent unsolicited to various publishers in Nashville to try and get something picked up”, laughed Devon.

Around the age of 20, Devon changed her major to music performance despite going against Earle’s advice not to and also decided to legally give up her last name. .

“I was a cocky kid, man,” he said.

During this time Devon found love and eventually married his wife Mandy and dropped out of school in order to support their new life and got a job at Star Trax Video & Tanning – a place Devon found solace in .

“I used to go there to rent movies because I was always intimidated by Owensboro, so I didn’t want to drive around town,” Devon said.

He befriended employee and manager Steve Grimes, who is also a musician, and developed a close bond around music that helped them get through their days on the clock.

Devon then began working at Money Tree Book and Music Exchange and befriended the brother of Sunlite Studios owner Joel Osborne who gave Devon the opportunity to learn how to film and edit as a video director for weddings.

Pursuing a career in film or video was not on Devon’s radar due to the amount of funds needed to make it happen at the time, despite resembling it early in his life.

“I knew I would have liked to do movies,” Devon said. “When we were kids, we would shoot stuff on my aunt’s camcorder and I would edit it using two VCRs side by side….”

Around 2006, Devon discovered YouTube – which at the time was brand new – and started recording videos in his Owensboro home with a Sony Handycam and editing them with Final Cut.

He began posting his own comedy sketch videos on the site and eventually began adding friends to the mix, forming October Road Studios and their own web-series “The Basement”.

“We were shooting about five to seven sketches and I was editing and compiling them,” he said. “After a few gigs, it took off. … We would get (between 3,000 and 5,000) views per video; and at the time, it was a lot.

The band produced around 10 episodes over the next two years and filmed over 60 skits and were featured on YouTube’s homepage a few times alongside other popular video creators on the site while Devon and Osborne would also write, record and release songs together until Sunlite. folded in the late 2000s.

Devon continued to focus on music when he joined Detroit-based label Jett Plastic Recordings in 2012, helping with screen printing of record covers and licensing away from home after meeting the founder, Jarrett Koral, via a music forum.

As the label focused more on punk music, Devon wanted to release more pop fare that he liked and decided to start his own company Tinker Tone Records in 2016, taking on clients like Mark Ten, The Groove Barbers, Taylor Abrahamse and Volk.

But being a filmmaker was always something Devon wanted to continue and founded Tinker Tone Pictures in 2019 after inspiration and encouragement from friends and local filmmakers PJ Starks and Daniel Benedict.

He recruited Bethany Westerfield and launched his first project, the sci-fi adventure film “The Third Rock Five” – ​​which was about a UFO parked above a small town and becomes a tourist attraction which has lost attention over the years.

After developing the film and holding auditions in February 2020, the team was ready to begin production in Cloverport until the coronavirus cost Devon resources. But he was still determined to shake things up and started writing another movie called ‘Piper Pence and the Pandemic’, telling the story of a girl alone at home trying to stay safe during a global zombie pandemic. .

The film was officially released in October 2021 and won both “Best of Show” and “Best Narrative Short” at the UPIKE Film & Media Arts Festival hosted by Pikeville University’s Film & Media Arts Program.

“It was surreal,” Devon said of the validation for their efforts. “Even now, you really don’t believe it when it happens.”

Although the pandemic lingered into 2021, Devon found his way back to ‘The Third Rock Five’ – retitled ‘The UFO Girl’ – due out later this year and also tackled a new project called ‘Ghost-O-Matic’. which details high school students Jessie and Madison teaming up for a science project revolving around a ghost detection mechanism made by Madison’s late great-uncle who was a ghost hunter in the early 1960s.

For Devon, pursuing his many passions has simply become part of him.

“I don’t do it for any particular reason; it’s right there,” he said. “It’s just something I want to do.”