We had the good fortune of connecting with Cruise Sztamenits and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cruise, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is everything. I think it has to be calculated though. Timing is really important in most cases. You can easily be a year too soon, a year too late, a day too soon, a day too late. Risk is often synonymous with big financial undertakings or expenditure. Even if not directly, it seems to always loop back around to that. For instance, one of the biggest risks I took in my career was not pursuing any higher education. I don’t have a degree to my name. I never pursued anything outside of the film industry and have no experience with any sort of “traditional job” so I pretty much backed myself into a corner and said ‘you gotta make this work’. So far it’s worked out. It wasn’t a means to success, but it helped. I think it also expedited the process. I got into the work force of this industry much younger than most without any family connections and each year has been better than the next, aside from the first year of Covid.

I’ve taken lots of other risks too, of varying sizes, and I really can’t think of a day where I’m not wagering some major step. Even as I talk about this now I’m considering what’s going to be the next major leap I’ll take for my career. There’s a few options I have but the difficulty is figuring out which option is best right now. If that decision persists too long, you have to just bite the bullet and chose one otherwise you’ll stay stagnate. I’m closing on that bullet right now. It’s important for me to evolve quickly, reach goals quickly, I can’t stand repetition so whenever I’m at a point in my career where I feel I’m doing the same old same old, that’s when I know I need to find a way to jump forward into something new, more creatively fulfilling.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m in that process of transitioning to the creative side full time as a Director and Cinematographer. I’m also an ICG Local 600 1st Assistant Camera which I absolutely love doing since I’m a complete gearhead, even though that role is more technical than creative. But it all blends and it’s a part of that creative machine.

Getting to this point already at 22 years old wasn’t particularly easy. It was a lot of perseverance, networking and not veering away from my goals. I don’t have any family members in the business that were able to give me an easy leg up. I decided this is what I wanted to do so I put myself out there and from the first gig I worked, I connected with the people on that set and got my next one. There’s a lot of moments that could easily make someone give up; people taking advantage of you, work being slow or halting all of the sudden, never having a guarantee of a paycheck. But for me I’ve learned that the journey is like a never ending training program to your next big step. It’s a roller coaster to weed out the quitters and it’s intimidating to discourage people from their overall goals. I’ve found that just getting back to the grind and not even taking the time to consider quitting has allowed me to achieve goal after goal. And of course I’m still working at it.

The only thing that sets you apart as a filmmaker is your vision and ability to execute that vision. Your style and everything comes from your inspirations and the way you visualize the script or story. So it’s difficult to describe what sets anyone apart unless you watch their work. Then you know.

For me and my company, since every story-type has been told, it’s all about showing an audience something familiar but in a way they’ve never seen before so it feels refreshing. Also inviting them into a world or culture that they’ve either never seen or seen very little of.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First I’d take them to grab some lanches at Brazil Latino Market in Dallas. Then I’d take to the DMA, I love spending time in museums and looking at art, the DMA has a great collection and often has events. Would probably end the day eating at either Istanbul Cuisine or Sushi Sam, both in Southlake.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d have to shout out my parents. I feel extremely fortunate that they both supported me when I was a kid making home movies and all throughout my life. They’ve always listened to all my nerdy camera and film talks even though they probably don’t understand it. They allowed me to express myself creatively so I can’t thank them enough for that.

Website: https://cruisesztamenitsfilm.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cruisesztamenits/?hl=en

Other: Personal Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user87754963 Company Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user150911000

Image Credits
Jörg Viktor Steins-Lauß Lucio Lopez

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.