Russ Sweet is an independent film-maker who travels around the world capturing stories for different people! I met Russ at a random house party about 5 years ago. Then, he was just a student at full-sail University in Orlando, FL. It seems his 80 thousand dollar education has paid off because Russ has been traveling the globe for the last 8 months filming different projects! He travels so much that he went years without paying rent. He has recently decided to rent an apartment in LA so he has somewhere to call home! “I’m completely burnt out from traveling and just want to do local jobs for a while” says Russ. His facebook boasts him in beautiful locations such as the swiss alps, glorious white sand beaches in thailand and shooting on a wildlife safari in africa. How could one possibly get sick of this sort of life you might ask! But for Russ it’s really worn on him and he’s looking forward to spending a consecutive amount of time in LA doing various film projects.
Diving deeper into the adventurous life of Russ Sweet I wanted to know exactly what it is that he does. “My job title on set is usually Camera Operator or Assistant Camera. My skill set I would say is mostly knowing the technical side of cameras & how to work them and of course how to tell a story with one.” Some of Russels most impressive work was working as a production assistant for reality shows such as; The Celebrity Apprentice, The Biggest Loser, Americas Got Talent, The Voice, The Steve Harvey show and Oprah’s masterclass. And as sick of traveling Russ may be he is passionate about traveling and shot his first international short documentary film in Kismu, Kenya called “Living Positive” which is an uplifting film about the social and cultural effects that AIDS/HIV has on people in Africa.
Of course, I had to ask how Russ lands these gigs. “I am always applying to stuff online, sending out my resume and reel, Facebook, Instagram, Email. Sometimes I watch things I want to work on and google names from the credits to see if I might have a connection to them. You never know.” He says that having connections in this industry is critical for landing jobs. When he freelances he says it feels like being on a rollercoaster, one minute having solid work lined up and the next feeling like you won’t be hired anywhere. As hard as freelancing can be he certainly recommends it if you love a spontaneous adventurous lifestyle.
Since Russ Sweet basically has my dream job I asked him what he would say to someone just getting started in the industry and he responded with a great answer; “Believe in yourself. Decide if you want to go the traditional way with school, or just move to LA or NYC and just start out as a PA. Both ways are going to take lots of hard work! Decide what’s best for you and know that their is a ton of cool jobs out there waiting for you. “ Russ ended the interview by saying there’s a plethora of jobs in this industry and that watching behind the scenes of shows/documentaries/movies can help you decide what aspect of filming you want to be apart of!
My last question to Russ was what his next move is. “To get a 6 pack of beer, sit on my couch and just relax”.
After speaking with Russ on the phone I pondered what this interview meant to me. It’s not everyday you talk to someone who is out there in the field making magic happen! What I mainly took out of this is that you cannot give up in this industry, you just have to keep pushing and pushing until you start to see desired results. Russ Sweet is truly my inspiration because I’ve been able to watch his journey from the beginning and see him morph into the amazing film maker he is today! I left this interview feeling more motivated than before to put myself out there and start making things happen.