Sawyer Hartman is among the premiere social media influencers online. He commands approximately 1.8 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and over 727,000 followers on his Instagram account. Pictured in front of the camera and filming behind, Sawyer is known for his dramatic take on travel videos. Sawyer’s take on YouTube travel vlogging is one-of-a-kind, transforming everyday moments into high-quality short films.
We sat down with Sawyer in an exclusive interview to learn more about his style, the development of his career, and the way he works with brands.
1. How did you get your passion and start in travel vlogging and filmmaking?
I’ve been intrigued by cameras since I was 10. My mom gave me an old film camera one trip when we went to Yellowstone National Park, and ever since I was hooked.
Traveling only came into my story after I made my first feature with Ron Howard & Brian Grazer two years ago. I spent a little over 13 months on that one project and had to live in a motel in Louisiana for 6 months.
After that life-changing experience, I was ready to take my storytelling capabilities to the road. Truth is, I’m simply having way too much fun to ever stop!
2. How has your channel evolved since you first started on YouTube?
Hahaha wow, what a question!
Well, when I first started YouTube I made horrible sketch comedies where I played every character. Think “Nutty Professor” but with a $12 production budget.
Anyway, through YouTube, I realized I was a lot more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.
My film success on YouTube has led to countless brand sponsorship opportunities as well as an opportunity to make a feature film with 2 of my heroes. It seems like every day is a new door opening with opportunity!
3. How did you meet your fiancée and how has she become a part of your social media empire?
Angelique and I actually met a house party. Neither of us are the party-type, but we were convinced by the same group of friends to “get out, and live a little”. Long story short, I saw Angelique at the party and asked my friend to introduce me.
He was already in a conversation, so I naturally went up and introduced myself. I gave her my number but she never texted me, so I showed up at a friend’s house where she was and won over her dog. It worked!
She was never supposed to be a part of what I’ve built, but after you’ve decided you’re going be with someone forever, I guess it’s a natural transition.
4. What does the vlogging format offer your viewers, and what is most challenging about it for you as a creator?
The problem with vlogging at the moment is that everyone has pretty much capped out their ability to time matrix, resulting in everyone’s stuff looking and feeling the same. I’m trying to break the mold by bringing my voice-over-film style to help tell a story for my viewers!
I’d say the most challenging part about attempting to daily vlog is having to upload something that you know could have been better if you had another day! It can burn you out creatively.
5. What role does collaboration with other influencers play in advancing your career as a YouTuber?
Collaboration is an amazing way to get another pre-determined audience to see your content. Collabs can be a great way to grow a channel and raise awareness, but should never be seen as substitutes for good content. Numbers don’t mean anything when it comes to content.
6. When brands approach you, what do you expect from them and how do you decide on working with them?
I never expect anything from a brand. I simply open up a dialogue and try to figure out the goal of their campaign. Once I understand the message they are trying to promote or the goal they are trying to reach, I can help them to build out a campaign that fulfills both their goal and my creativity.
My biggest selling factor when contemplating working with a brand is a simple question: “Does partnering with this company or service allow me to create content for my viewers that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture?” If the answer is yes, we can start planning!
7. What was making The Parallax Theory like, and how long did it take for you to write and develop it?
Creating The Parallax Theory was simply one of the most fulfilling and humbling experiences I’ve ever had. I learned a lot about myself, and about the film industry throughout the 13 months I took to create it.
Although I love storytelling, I don’t think every story is worth telling, so it may be a year or two before I finish my next “big” script. But I promise it will be good.
8. Lighting Round
Most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
I’ve always had a huge soft spot for Hawaii, but I feel like the most beautiful place still may be out there… or on a different one.
Two influencers that inspire you?
Your go-to camera?
Canon 1D X Mark II, or a Red Epic if I’m not strapped for time.
Your photographic style?
9. Do you have any tips for aspiring influencers and filmmakers?
Find your own style. It’s okay to be inspired by others, but it’s about what you can bring that’s new to the table that will give you your big break!
10. How do you hope to develop your career as an artist, and are there projects you have going that your fans should be excited about?
I really want to raise my innovation and production value, and I want to start creating content that is actually educational so that my audience can enhance their own creative visions and skills!
I think my YouTube channel will become a weekly film type travel documentary every other week, and a tutorial or filmmaking class every other week.
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah, just remember to have fun. Seriously, it’s not any better at the top.
Create for yourself and you will never lose sight of why you started.