Morgan Swank is an Emmy-winning television writer and children’s author based out of Atlanta and Los Angeles. She got her start working on Broadway Video productions such as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, 30 Rock, and Saturday Night Live. Currently, Morgan is working hard on her own pilots for networks and developing her children’s book “Mort” into a feature film. Her passion lies in the writing process to connect with people in ways that otherwise seem impossible. She is also the CEO of Moonscar Productions with her business partner Blair Allison. Moonscar Productions is a full-service film and television production company dedicated to producing projects that elevate the human experience for filmmakers of color and women and non-binary identifying people. Morgan believes the entertainment industry has turned a blind eye to hear and fund projects based around the experience of underrepresented voices, so she started her company with Blair to fill the gap of the problem. All projects hired under the Moonscar brand have at least 70% womxn or non-binary identifying staff behind and in front of the camera and offer grants for projects relating to gender issues or Native American filmmaking pieces. Moonscar Productions is currently projected to release 3 music videos, 2 animation shorts, and one feature for Sundance Labs in 2021.
Where did the idea for Moonscar Productions come from?
My business partner and I both have been in the entertainment industry since we graduated college almost a decade ago. It’s a hard businesses to get in and even harder to remain in successfully. We started to recognize the issues both in front of and behind the camera with gender gap and pay disparity. It also became apparent how the racial bias in Hollywood really affected the makeup of stories told to the general public. We decided to start Moonscar Productions to be a hub to hire and work with those underrepresented voices and fund projects that speak to race and identity issues that don’t get mainstream support. We’ve been very lucky with our partnerships and clients.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are filled with a lot of meetings and caffeine. Between Blair and I, we go through different projects on a weekly basis we might be considering to produce or have brainstorming meetings for ideas. We then consider staffing options and clients we might be able to hire and negotiate rates, locations, and brand or investor relationships for distribution. It’s a lot of cold calling, social media reach outs, and cultivating relationships while building the brand for ourselves as the company is just a little over a year old.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m a writer professionally, so I’m used to finding ways to bring my ideas to life. I just have to stick to my ideas and start fleshing them out on paper. I work best with peer feedback and collaboration. I think we might be better off with collaboration. It makes our company stronger and it makes my work much better.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It might be detrimental to my industry, but I love all these new video platforms. Seeing people get creative and take on new challenges and utilize the internet in a creative way instead of using it for harm makes me see the opportunity for myself and my clients.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am very (almost annoyingly) organized. I have to keep multiple calendars. If I don’t have a schedule I feel incredibly anxious I might miss a meeting or, more importantly, make someone else miss a meeting for a job they could be getting. As an entrepreneur I’m constantly looking for more opportunity and clients so I have to be diligent with my time management and schedule. Note taking and organization are key to my success. My day planner looks like a copy of “Gone with the Wind” it’s so big.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Everything is going to work out. Life is never a linear line of good things and bad things, but hard work, persistence, and always trying to find a balance of inner wellness and living by the principle of serving others first will at least lead to a happier, more fulfilled life when it feels really low. Starting my business stemmed from finding a problem In my industry it didn’t look like anyone was solving fast enough, so I wanted to take it upon myself to do it. It’s been hard but very rewarding and I’m doing what I want to do. I think my younger self would be proud of where I am now.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I know for an absolute fact the government has had contact with aliens.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Go to therapy once a week if you have the means to afford it. That might sound facetious, but having stable mental health while living an entrepreneurial life is very important. There’s a lot of stressors that build up in any line of work while trying to be your own boss and manage any kind of healthy lifestyle.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Respond to change and adapt to it. One thing that I see frequently in entertainment-based businesses especially is a need to stick to the old way of doing things. Change is inevitable and it’s easier to move with it and adapt with others to form relationships to grow. Your business, bank account, and clients will thank you to be ahead of the game.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Managing money is hard, but every entrepreneur will make mistakes on where to spend it and mismanaging the budget. It’s just part of the business. You learn from your mistakes and come back to know how and where to spend your money, work with funding resources, and do better on your next projects.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If there’s any app makers out there, can someone make an app that filters through all grant funding available by genre and submission/application date? I have yet to find a good place for myself or my clients for such a resource.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought myself my first HydraFacial. I never, ever have days to treat myself or the money to do it. Again, self care is very important in this lifestyle as well. We’re frequently overworked, sleep deprived, hungry, and my skin is absolutely paying for it. It felt good to take care of myself with a fancy price tag for once.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use my ical like it’s my lifeforce. I have a day planner as well, but keeping organized is key to not feeling like you’re consistently stressed out slipping under quicksand. Any access to an organized planner can make or break your routine. It’s so easy to fall behind on your own responsiblities.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. I read it in college and it was sort of like having a class therapy session to remember how self care in a holistic sense can make you a more successful human being in your personal and business life. I still carry that copy around with me and look at it when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
What is your favorite quote?
We can convince ourselves to do things in conjunction with one another that we wouldn’t have been able to do as an individual. -Jordan Peele
- Change is inevitable! Don’t be scared of it. Adapt to it and work with growing businesses and people to help you grow.
- Live your personal and professional life to serve others first and you will serve yourself tenfold
- Keeping up-to-date calendars and organization can make or break a business for you, your employees, and your clients.
- Aliens are real. You heard it here.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.