“I feel like I live a double life,” Summer Shelton admits.
During the weekday, Shelton works on the product content team at a Lowe’s facility in Troutman, North Carolina. But on nights and weekends? She’s an award-winning film producer.
Throughout the past decade, her films have played at prestigious festivals around the world and received distribution. Most recently, Shelton was a producer for Keep the Change, which won Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
Shelton did not start off wanting to be a filmmaker. Her first career path led her to teaching at a high school, but she soon realized that was not a perfect fit.
So she quit her job, sold her house and began doing odd jobs. Things like waitressing, shoe shining and being a trolley girl while living in Savannah, Georgia.
She ended up back in the classroom as a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) School of Filmmaking. After one year, critically acclaimed, independent filmmaker Ramin Bahrani contacted the school looking for someone who could be his ”right hand” on an upcoming film. Shelton was the perfect candidate.
“He was my film school, basically,” Shelton said.
She got some real-world experience and realized she was really good at producing films.
“Producing is helping people. Someone wants x, y, or z, and I love turning those abstract ideas into something concrete. I’m resourceful and, just as important, I’m a risk-taker,” Shelton said.
In 2015, another successful film People, Places, Things played at Sundance where she also received the Bingham Ray Producing Fellowship. She returned to UNCSA as a guest lecturer at a college and, from there, heard about the job at Lowe’s.
It was a natural fit with her skillset. The team Shelton leads creates videos that allow Lowes.com customers to see products from every angle before purchase.
“This happened at the right time. Having the stability of Lowe’s allows me to help people with my films,” Shelton said. “I love being part of something bigger in film and here as well. It’s not just something that’s 9 to 5. It means something even when I leave here.”
Shelton recently finished production on another film, spending weeknights on the phone lining things up and weekends on set in the Appalachian Trail. She’s now in the post-production phase, but she’s always looking for another story.