We had the good fortune of connecting with Phil Svitek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Phil, what matters most to you?
Not too long ago I got turned onto the idea of resume vs eulogy values. This resonated deeply with me. In short, resume virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy ones are those that are talked about at your funeral. And while I’d instinctively focused on eulogy values more, hearing it stated so simply and clearly reinforced my resolve to strive towards eulogy values. Some people might say this leads to your career taking a backseat. I’ve found the opposite. “Life is too short” as the adage goes, and I’ve noticed that people are much more apt to work with you if you have the talent AS WELL AS humility, humbleness, kindness and so on. Likewise, these are qualities I seek in those work with. By doing so, it’s made me much happier and my work more meaningful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a fondness for all mediums (TV shows, movies, books, video games, music, etc) and as a result whenever there’s an idea (whether my own or someone else’s), I like to consider how that idea would be best expressed and experienced. This has lead me to write novels, nonfiction books, make movies, host podcasts, produce music videos and so one. Early on in my journey, people tried to force me into a particular lane. I never could verbalize it but it wasn’t my path. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m glad I knew not to listen. In fact, there’s a wonderful book by David Epstein titled Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World that goes in depth about how it’s more practical to operate in the way I do. He uses anecdotal evidence as well as research studies to support his claim. Now, it’s not to say that everyone should strive to be a generalist. If someone wants to be a cinematographer only, that’s great. If that’s the case, they should deep dive cameras, lighting, composition and what not. The overall point is each path is individual and David Epstein sheds light on one that’s previously been shunned by people. As for my overall creative driving force, it’s to put out work I think has significance. I believe art has the power to affect and teach someone and so I try to do that with the work I do, regardless if it’s my own work or someone else’s vision I’m supporting. It’s not to say art should be didactic. That would actually be counterproductive. But it should have a message, or why else make it?
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles (the area, not necessarily the city itself) has so many wonderful places to visit and experience. I love downtown LA, specifically Grand Central Market. (In fact I love it so much, it was the setting for my first feature film called Idyll). Then there’s the Venice Beach. It’s got great food, people and of course the ocean. Topanga Canyon has amazing hikes and views. And there’s every type of restaurant you could want. Plus, I think the Valley is underrated. It’s got fun bars, malls, etc with less traffic. 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?
There are lots of people who have contributed to my success but over the years, I’ve realized the unsung hero was always my grandmother, Margita Kopanicova. When I was young, she instilled in my the joy to learn and perhaps even more importantly, how to learn. She taught me various ways to resolve issues, answer questions, etc. This is the foundation for any success that’s come my way and so I’m immensely grateful and equally saddened that I never got a chance to realize this until after her passing.