Chay Rust: The passion of an aspiring filmmaker

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Julianna Russ

HHS Alumnus Chay Rust sits in the Highlands High School Broadcasting Studio that sparked his passion for film.

By Julianna Russ, Highlands High School - KY

     In the creative world, it takes time to be noticed. For Chay Rust, he didn’t wait for the film industry to come to him; instead, he stood around on a local film shoot until he got noticed. 

     That same day, he walked away with a blossoming career.

Julianna Russ

     A 2017 Highlands Alumnus, Rust is now a senior in Northern Kentucky University (NKU)’s Electronic Media and Broadcasting program. NKU’s resources have allowed him to spread his wings after leaving the nest, but he’s discovered that self-motivation is truly key to finding success in film.

     “There are a lot of opportunities NKU presents to us students. There’s various internships and co-ops we can sign up for,” Rust explained. “But for me personally, I decided to stalk the set of a movie being filmed here in Fort Thomas, which led to me getting my own internship and opening the door to me working on movie sets.”

     Now, Rust boasts experience working on many different Netflix-produced films, including Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Point Blank, and Dark Waters

      “I would say my proudest moment would be finishing up that first movie I worked on. Working on the last day of a movie is really special, everyone is really emotional, I was just happy to be there for it.” He continued, “[A] movie that will be coming out in just a couple weeks is called Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Ron Howard. That will be on Netflix. I was the walkie PA for the second unit.”

     Rust hopes to continue working in film and eventually work his way up from his current position, production assistant, to assistant director. The assistant director is in charge of managing the set.

     As he considers his options moving forward, he does not forget his roots. Rust’s interest in filmmaking was sparked by the Highlands Film and Broadcasting program, led by Bill Poff. 

     “In my junior year, during the advanced filmmaking class, I decided to help out with the football games. That is when I really started to enjoy the whole process of filmmaking.”

     Poff commented fondly on Rust’s work ethic, noting, “Chay really has an old school way of showing excellence, slow and steady. He’s always on, and when you’re always on, being in the right place at the right time is purposeful, not accidental.”

     Rust frequently returned to help out at football games even after graduating and currently has plans to intern for Poff in the classroom during the spring 2021 semester. 

     “[N]ow, I’ll be able to help out even more.”

     Entering a creative field can be daunting, but Rust knows he’s found his niche. He gave advice to younger students who may doubt their ability to enter the film industry.

     “As long as you stick with it, you’ll find something you like doing. There are a billion things you can do in this field. You can work in a news station, you can work on a movie set, or you can work by yourself. There’s anything you want to do, you can do.”

This story was originally published on The Hilltopper on November 23, 2020.