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My Biggest Lesson: Jon Schwartz

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Keep creating and the work will follow, says Tuff director

My Biggest Lesson: Jon Schwartz

Jon Schwartz is an LA-based director from Connecticut. He got his start in film shooting skate videos. Bringing his own spin to the creative in front of him, he loves shooting handheld to create dynamic scenes and find authentic moments between moments.


LBB> Is there one event / piece of wisdom from your career that stays with you? What is it? 

Jon> A fairly recent lesson is from a Converse spec spot I shot called ‘Choose Your Chucks’ while things were slow during the pandemic. I needed to make something just to keep my mind busy and I came up with this idea I shot with my friend where with each step he took his outfit changed. I liked showcasing the versatility of styles and seeing the Chucks with different outfits. I almost didn’t show it because it was spec, but then it led to a new project with Ross called #YESFORLESS. Then from there, the Ross project led to my recent project NV Energy.  

So the lesson for me was: Keep creating and the work will follow. 


LBB> How old were you when you learned this insight, where were you working, how long had you been there, what year was it, what was your role and how were you feeling generally about your career at this point?

Jon> This is really a lesson that has repeated itself since I started playing with cameras. I grew up in Connecticut and I made my first film at 10 years old was with table-top fingerboards and then I started shooting skate videos with my friends. From there, some small businesses in the area hired me to shoot some ads for them. Seeing this hobby turn into a career is what led me to Chicago where I expanded into making music videos.

While I was in Chicago, I wanted to start getting back into brand work so I started renting single locations and concepting spots from those environments. When you shoot something with a client there’s a series of parameters you have to stay in and blanks you have to fill. On spec, it’s all blanks so you have to start setting your parameters and something as simple as a location can give form to a complete piece of work. 


LBB> And if you got some words on wisdom from a particular person or there’s a key, influential person in this story – tell us about them! What was your relationship to them, what were they like, how did you feel about them (admiration, awe, respect… disrespect)…

Jon> I’m not sure if it’s words of wisdom exactly, but working with DJay Brawner and Max Rose the EPs at TUFF has reminded me how important it is to have people in your corner seeing the possibilities of your work. DJay didn’t hesitate to showcase the Converse spot, while I went back and forth whether to take it down. It’s harder to assess if what you created resonates with audiences without a supportive team to give you earnest feedback. If it’s not client work, find people who know the business to give your feedback. 


LBB> Why do you think this experience struck such a chord? 

Jon> It’s an experience that keeps presenting new lessons. Something even more unforeseen from this sequence of projects is the insight into the marketplace. Creating content that grabs attention quickly and that can show transformation in 15- or 30-seconds is resonating for brands across different industries. 


LBB> How did it change you as a person and in your career? 

Jon> I never thought of myself as creative. You can make so much stuff and you never really know what will catch people’s eye. If you’re willing to put your ideas on the line, you might chart a creative path for yourself. 


LBB> Is this insight or piece of advice something you now share with others – if so, how do they respond to it?

Jon> I’ve been given a lot of advice from filmmakers I really admire, and it just didn’t work out for me in the same way so I try not to dish this out as advice that often. There are so many variables unique to each person and their circumstances and I think specific advice can imply there’s a formula you can follow. I’d rather just keep any advice from this more open-ended. Keep creating with the resources you have. 


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Tuff, Wed, 03 Aug 2022 04:16:40 GMT