R. Russell Williams

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production

Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor
The Art Institute of Phoenix

R. Russell Williams

Good enough is seldom good enough. R. Russell Williams , Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Instructor , The Art Institute of Phoenix
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

In my last year of college, one of my classes required that I participate as a member of a research and presentation team. Our topic was “The Process of Bringing Nightly News to a Broadcast Audience.” That meant getting inside newsrooms and interviewing those involved in newsgathering and delivery. By my second visit, I knew I wanted to be a member of a news organization. I secured an internship—and got a job offer before it was over.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

My professional experience dictates how I approach the classroom. As a visual storyteller for more than 30 years, it’s easy to draw upon my past failures and successes. My experience has given me a library of examples to share with students.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

One class assignment is foundational to developing skills in the industry. I call it How We Use the Mental Map in Storytelling. The assignment is pretty straightforward, but for the rest of the quarter—and for the rest of their careers—students must implement the principles and strategies associated with that single assignment.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Collaboration is important in developing soft skills and time management skills. Working with students from other programs offers an opportunity for creative growth—looking at challenges from a new perspective, then incorporating ideas from different disciplines to complete a project.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?


You’re entering a highly competitive industry. Motivation is your path to success.