This week we’re joined by Chicago actor, writer, & producer, Ashton Swinford!
(This interview was edited and condensed for clarity)
CA: Hey Ashton! Hit us with your bio.
AS: Hi, I'm Ashton Swinford. I am a producer, a writer, and an actor production coordinators, sometimes production manager. And most recently the art department coordinator.
CA: What else should we know about you?
AS: In addition to my work as a freelancer. I also have my own production company called, Paragram Productions, and we produce sketches and web series and are about to be producing a brand new series in September. I'm also a board member of Women of the Now, which is a nonprofit that supports female-identifying and non-gender conforming folks in the film industry.
CA: What projects have you been working on?
AS: While I was in quarantine, I wrote a media literacy series, in addition, to finish a short film with Layne Marie Williams and Zach Sievers, which is a Sci-Fi project, that is definitely a pipe dream because Sci-Fi's are hard to get made.
CA: What do you love about working in Chicago?
AS: I have to say, I hands down, enjoy shooting in Chicago more than most places I've filmed. I've had the opportunity this year to film in Miami and Atlanta. I've gotten to shoot in New York and LA for some time. But at the end of the day, the Chicago people are the people that I want to collaborate with after the job's over that I want to hang out with outside of working together. And it's just really been a cool community of people who are willing to help each other out to make incredible art. So I love Chicago.
CA: What does working towards equity look like in the film industry?
AS: We're starting the conversations in a way of how do we make sure our industry becomes more diverse and supports more voices. And I think it comes from both sides of, you know, who's doing the hiring at the production company down to who's hiring the day to day gig workers onset like me. The other part is absolutely doing the work, which for me is the Ibram X. Kendi book, How to be An Antiracist, reading that book and communicating with other people in my life about what I've learned from that and has been super helpful to identify my own bias and my holdups and see where we can all be better. And start those conversations with our people.
CA: Who are your favorite local collaborators?
AS: I work with Layne Marie Williams, a lot, which I do enjoy, as well as Gold Point Studios, which is Grace– who's awesome. I am so in love with Noise Floor and Victoria Salazar and Katie Waters. They're just incredible people. And they do the most amazing sound design.
CA: What advice would you give to budding filmmakers?
AS: The best thing that I think we can do, you, as storytellers is build empathy in others, by showing you stories, by sharing these intimate stories that might feel scary to share, but absolutely can open somebody's eyes to a new experience. So, yeah, that idea, you've been sitting on that project that you've been too scared to try, write it down, get it out there, shoot it on your phone if you have to. The world wants to see it, and they want to see it now more than ever.
CA: Thank you, Ashton!AS: Thank you so much for [reading]. I really appreciate it. Thank you to Camera Ambassador for having me do this project. This has been a lot of fun and I'm super honored to be able to talk to you, our filmmaker community.
Check out the video interview (and all our #filmmakerfriday videos on Youtube):