We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Russo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sean, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is something I think is very important to me. I think taking risks is essential to forming a future or living life in general. A life without risk is stagnant and that scares me. I’m glad to say taking risks has led me to become who I am today and I hope it continues to help me develop as a human being as well as an artist. When I graduated high school, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a four year degree, It’s something that just did not interest me in the slightest, but at the time, I still had a nervous feeling about it as well as a nervous feeling about my life and career in general. But now looking back, the risk has payed off so far. So I went to a two year program for film production in Orange County, finished that about 2 years ago, started to direct my own projects without transferring. In a way I just said “fuck it lets go” and did not look back. I dove right into my projects without even thinking about going to school. That is relatively risky looking back, probably even more risky than I thought at the time. But I’m so glad I was able to take that risk because I genuinely don’t think I would be where I am today doing these projects I love without taking that initial risk. I moved to la a year ago, channeled all my time working with the artists on videos. I get to spend most of my time directing, shooting, and editing music videos for talented artists that I’m lucky enough to also call my friends. If I had not taken that initial risk of not pursuing a degree, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now and what I would be doing, and that’s a weird thought for me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There’s something unique that I can offer an artist when I work with them. I have a good knowledge and understanding of music theory. I have an ear for the sounds. I grew up playing music all the time, it was my biggest passion growing up. I think it directly ties into my editing process. Feeling out the song, listening to it and building a relationship with the sounds that I’m editing to is an integral part of my process. I think there is something to be said about how I approach the creative side of directing while working with the artist. I listen to them, I really listen to the ideas they have and what they want to incorporate into their video. Because at the end of the day it is exactly that; THEIR video. I think a lot of directors are uncomfortable with this approach because they want more creative control, which is understandable. But for me, the way I look at directing is basically creating a space for the artist to reach and choose whatever vision they want to go towards in a totally safe and unbiased place. I genuinely want to help the artist achieve their goals. And a huge part of that is their visual media to go along with the music. It’s a huge part of a musicians identity. So if they want to go in a certain direction, I’m all ears. For me, directing is a 50/50 collaboration where the artist lays the ground work, and I help them achieve their vision exactly how they wanted it, and sometimes, in ways they didn’t know they needed. I’ve worked with many directors, DPs, musicians, editors, producers etc. throughout the years, and even though I’m still learning every day, I have a good enough knowledge of how to work with these people to make the best product possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m from north county San Diego, specifically San Marcos, and I haven’t lived in la for that long. On top of that, most of my time in la has been during a pandemic so my answers might be a little different. My favorite place to go in the Los Angeles area is malibu hands down. It’s a breath of fresh air and a completely different pace from the city. However, I love downtown and the silverlake / echo park area. As far as places to eat, I’ve been vegan for 4 years and I love LA’s extensive list of vegan and vegetarian restaurant options, Theres a lot of different cultures in LA, so there are many different styles of food to choose from. I love Thai food, and there’s this place in Venice called Thai Vegan that I’m currently obsessed with. There’s Monty’s, Purgatory Pizza, and probably a few other places but the names escape me right now. There’s so much to see in this huge town so I would tell anyone coming up here to check out everything the city has to offer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would definitely have to shoutout my parents for supporting my creative endeavors from a young age. They always pushed me in the right direction and never questioned my abilities and dedication to my art. They have always been very supportive which I know is rare for the parents of aspiring artists. Next I would have to shoutout my good friend and business partner Stefan. He’s been an integral part of my creative and business efforts since I started directing. That guy has helped me with every single project in one way or another over the years. He’s also a talented musician. His stage name is Sid Mason. Next I would have to acknowledge my cousin Joseph. He has been working as a director for commercials for years. Such a loving and helpful person that I’m so lucky to have in my life. I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience from him. That’s my guy. I also think theres something to be said about believing that every single person you encounter within the duration of your life will influence you in some way big or small. I am a big believer in that. This is especially very true for collaborators. When you work on a project with someone, there is always a connection there and it never really goes away. I think about every single artist I’ve worked with and I like to think that they have had an impact on me in some way shape or form. So I’d like to shoutout every single artist and collaborator I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
Instagram: @seanpersona @somthngood
Stefan Stojanovic, Andrea Rodriguez, Brandon Kwon, Fernando Pallares