Elaine McMillion Sheldon is arguably the most successful filmmaker to come out of West Virginia. Her stories about Appalachia have struck chords with people around the world.
Elaine says she developed a passion for storytelling from a young age, which led her to study journalism in college. Ultimately, her goal was to be a writer. She graduated during the 2008-2009 recession, and unfortunately newspapers were struggling to make ends meet. She decided that she needed to learn new skills, and self-taught herself video. Grad school at Emerson College was her ticket to learn documentary style filmmaking, and led her to some great collaboration with people who have shaped her and mentored her through the years.
Ultimately, Elaine’s passion is telling stories she cares about, no matter the medium. Her projects reflect her love for the Appalachian region and the stories that are close to her heart.
Elaine’s interactive documentary about McDowell County, WV called Hollow ultimately earned her a Peabody Award and opened creative doors for her next project, the Oscar nominated and Emmy award winning documentary Heroin(e) and full-length Netflix original documentary Recovery Boys.
In the Appalachian Startup episode, Elaine breaks down her filmmaking process and reflects on the success her documentaries have gained. Trust us, it’s one episode you’ll want to listen to over and over.