Aaron Schwartz: From YouTube to Travel Channel and Beyond

Aaron Schwartz: From YouTube to Travel Channel and Beyond

Aaron Schwartz – Marine, veteran corporate recruiter, bandleader/lead singer and often heard rapping under the name “Schwartzy” on the nationally syndicated radio show, 106.7 Sports Junkies is now onto his next endeavor.

Schwartz, an avid drone pilot, photographer, and videographer who loves traveling to exotic locations, has turned his passion and skill for filmography and editing into his next adventure, entrepreneurship.

On a trip with friends to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, they ventured to a little-known section of the national treasure owned by the Havasupai Indian tribe. There, they viewed some of the bluest-green waterfalls seen in this country at the bottom of the canyon, following a ten-mile trek.

“I filmed our visit, but I didn’t have very good equipment,” said Schwartz, 40, a Loudoun native. “I only had the creativity.”

A friend who made outdoor videos convinced him to try again in 2014 with a Sony A7 SII, and the results were more spectacular. An executive producer from the Travel Channel happened to view Schwartz’s video on YouTube. He liked it so much he hired Schwartz to film an entire series of shows, which became “Top Secret Swimming Holes,” a series that is in its third season.

“Here I was, just someone with a camera shooting videos on YouTube,” noted Schwartz. “I had never made a TV show and had no clue what I was doing. But they liked my eye for filming and gave me a great crew. We spent two years going to the world’s best swimming holes.”

They filmed four seasons at sites like Japan’s Takachiho Gorge, Fiji’s Tavoro Falls, Costa Rica’s Tesoro Escondido, Australia’s Belmore Falls, Zambia’s Devil’s Armchair, Brazil’s Little Silver Grotto, Singapore’s SkyPark and Utah’s Diamond Fork Hot Springs. Scooter Yancey, the Travel Channel executive producer on that show, praised Schwartz’s work.

“I can’t overstate what a great addition Aaron has been to the team,” said Yancey, who has also produced or written for the History Channel, National Geographic and Discovery Networks. “Most of (the swimming hole segments) weren’t easy, but they all turned into fun and beautiful pieces.”

Schwartz recently wrapped up the last season and now does everything from corporate videos to Food Network segments through his own company, Schwartzy Productions.

Growing up in Fairfax, Schwartz graduated from Woodson High and attended George Mason University. He enlisted in the Marines, serving four years in jobs that included a finance one in the D.C. area. That led to a corporate recruiter position with Capital Search Group in Vienna, lasting 18 years. That time has helped in maintaining contacts that lead to work for his own company.

“I helped place a lot of CEOs and CFOs so I can now use that network to help build my business,” Schwartz said.

Besides the Travel Channel and Food Network, clients have included GEICO, ICF International, the Washington Redskins, Marriott International and CBS. He works on larger projects, such as a documentary for a suicide prevention nonprofit organization. “It should be anywhere from ten to 40 minutes,” he said. “We are making it so that kids can relate to the content.”

Then there is his interest in music and sports. A regular caller to the Sports Junkies radio show on 106.7 FM The Fan, Schwartz wowed the hosts and producers with his creative rap songs. One even became an introduction to the show for a time.

Helping to form a cover band that plays Top 40, rock, hip-hop, pop and more called For the Win in 2015, Schwartz became a lead singer. Before some 25,000 people, he rapped and sang during BigNightDC, a New Year’s Eve event at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor that year.

“It’s the biggest rush for me to be up in front of that many people,” Schwartz said. “I get more nervous doing smaller presentations. But when I’m in front of a crowd like that, it feels natural, like that is what I was meant to do.”

The Travel Channel gig cut into his band time, but Schwartz said he could still make a guest appearance with the group. He’d like to see Schwartzy Productions add more employees and services, perhaps become a national business. But he could also see it developing into focusing on mostly film and videos, which he views as a big demand, especially in platforms like Netflix and online.

“My company is another example of the power of video and social media,” Schwartz said. “I made one simple video and posted it on social media. It spread, and my life changed. I’m doing things I never thought possible.”