Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.
Siobhan Summers is supervising producer at Bottle Rocket Media, a video production company in Chicago’s Fulton Market. She’s a seasoned producer who began her career on the production team of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Over the past two decades Siobhan has honed her ability to craft meaningful stories and produce impactful messages. She oversees productions from the ground up: from proposal and creative development to scriptwriting, through pre- and post-production to delivery.
Siobhan is a collaborator at heart with a love of storytelling and creating human connections.
What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
I’ve wanted to be a TV producer since I was in seventh grade. I grew up in Chicago and in seventh grade I went to a taping of The Orpah Show and I told my mom on the way home that I wanted to work there some day. I was so taken by the women who came out during the commercial breaks with their headsets and blue cards and set up Orpah and her guests for the upcoming segment. It looked exciting and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
How did you get into the film industry?
I had my eye on the prize. As a senior at Loyola I took out the yellow pages (remember those?) and looked up Harpo Studios. I called, and a woman named Kelly answered, she transferred me to another woman, Isabelle, who told me they didn’t have an internship program but to come in for a meeting anyway. I did. That was in1998 and I was there until the show ended in 2011.
Who were your mentors?
I am very fortunate to know and have known some pretty remarkable people both personally and professionally. My parents for sure. Both incredibly creative and hard working people. In my career, I worked with fiercely talented women at Oprah. I say I “grew up” professionally there. I learned a lot about the business and about myself.
What is your greatest achievement?
The answer to this question would have been different 10, maybe even 5 years ago. I’ve worked on many, many productions that I’m proud of. But I feel like I am living my biggest achievement right now. This business is tough. But I’ve earned a position at production house where I am heard, my vision and ideas are respected and so is my life outside of work. This is so vital to professional success and personal satisfaction and it is not always the case in many places.
I’m doing work that I love with a wildly talented team who also happen to be all-around great people. That is success to me.
What is your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment? Probably not fighting for all of the above sooner.
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What are your biggest pet peeves?
When people give you a laundry list of why they can’t get something done. Just tell me you can’t do it so we can all move on.
What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
Technology is constantly changing. The way we consume media is constantly changing. But what will always transcend and adapt is authentic storytelling. Whether you are at the movies with your family or friends or binging on your couch, consumers will always want to reach through all the noise and make a connection. The best way is through emotive content. I think we’ll be seeing even more documentary style branded content and also documentary films as entertainment.
Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I worked at the gift shop at the Shedd Aquarium when I was in high school.
Who plays you in your life story?
Hmm. I would cast Kristen Bell. For selfish reasons. I just love her. Great attitude, funny, mover, shaker. Mom juggling it all. Wait, what was the question? Who is your celebrity girl-crush? 🙂
What do you wish you had more time to do?
Write. I used to love to write short stories and I hope to get back to that again.
Do you talk to yourself?
All. The. Time. It helps me process. My kids think I’m nuts.
What inspires you to be creative?
My team at BRM. We are constantly sharing ideas, brainstorming passion-projects, laughing. We challenge each other daily to be more creative.