Los Angeles, California
Majors: Creative Writing Minor: Theater
Shannon Latimer ’01 wrote scripts for two Christmas movies that debuted on the Lifetime channel and other TV networks in 2022. My Favorite Christmas Tree and Six Degrees of Santa are the latest releases in her writing career.
Her first major writing credit came on a TV movie titled Whirlwind Wedding in 2021.
“I worked on concepts, outlines, drafts, multiple rewrites,” Latimer said. “Once I finish the script, it’s handed off and I don't see it again until the production is finished.”
Latimer has now written five TV movies that have aired on cable TV. She has been continuously hired to write in the Christmas romance genre and enjoys injecting her own unique character quirks and a distinct voice into the scripts. “Though the overall formula of these movies is somewhat prescribed, I like to sneak in extra texture, life, and comedy where I can get away with it."
Latimer came to Knox in 1997 from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She says the College pulled her in with a strong writing program and a feeling that she could actually make a difference in a supportive learning environment that provided the freedom to play and create. “Knox always felt so open, providing plenty of new opportunities.”
She recalled taking film classes with Professor Emeritus of English Ed Niehus, improving her writing in workshops with Philip Sidney Post Professor of English Robin Metz, and developing a love for theatre in classes, as well as directing two studio plays and working as assistant director during Repertory Theatre Term, with Smith V. Brand Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Chair of Arts Administration Liz Metz.
Instead of studying abroad, Latimer decided to spend a trimester in the New York University Tisch School of the Arts film program during her sophomore year. Though the opportunity arose to remain at this school to continue film study, Latimer chose to return to Knox to finish her degree and further develop her skills. “It felt like an important foundation at the time and Knox felt like the right place for me to do it. I'm glad I did.”
Latimer graduated with a creative writing major and a theatre minor. Both of these stemmed from what she describes as “agency to create.”
“You could work with other students to produce plays, do improv, join a writing group, whatever you wanted. That was important to me,” Latimer said.
Following her graduation in 2001, Latimer moved to Chicago where she continued her creative efforts. She worked with Metz’s Vitalist theatre company and other theatre companies, doing dramaturgy work and assistant directing while continuing to write fiction on the side. She quickly realized that the natural next step would be to blend her love for writing and theatre by expanding her education into the art of cinema.
Latimer completed her master of fine arts degree (M.F.A.) at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 2009. She says Knox gave her a strong foundation of storytelling skills which were key through film school. “The writing and storytelling skills I honed at Knox were indispensable at USC, and they also gave me an edge heading out into the film and television industry.”
Latimer’s road forward was demanding, as she worked to prove herself within the movie industry as a writer. She made a living outside the industry while writing as much as she could and building up a pile of samples, sending them around, trying to gain traction, and getting the right script to the right reader.
Latimer has been developing her work with a producer at Reel One Entertainment for over three years. “It was the luckiest of all luck. I started working with them right before the pandemic.”
Looking ahead, Latimer would love to be in the writers' room of a prestige episodic TV show. She loves character-driven comedy and drama, her favorite shows being Mad Men and The White Lotus. Those writing jobs are often collaborative, similar to her experience at Knox, where much of her written studies and theatre productions were always centered around a team.
“There are constant notes and rewriting. Collaboration skills are crucial, Knox was great preparation for that,” Latimer said. “Working in the theatre always made me feel like I was part of something, like I was making progress. That was important.”