Now Playing

One-Man Army

Oprah’s got him on speed dial and george Clooney’s a pal, but filmmaker Jason Russell still just wants to save the world. 

Inspiration can come from the least likely places. For Jason Russell—the chief creative officer at Invisible Children—when it came time to make the now legendary Kony 2012 short film, he looked not to past inspirations like Hitchcock, Spielberg and Coppola, but rather to the Insane Clown Posse. Really.

“As far as views, our goal was to beat American Juggalo,” laughs Russell about a short documentary made about the rabid fans of the face-painted rap group. “If 800,000 people will watch a 23-minute documentary about Juggalos, then surely we can make a movie that people will watch about a warlord in Uganda.”

To be fair, Russell and IC’s movie runs 30 minutes long. Oh, and at last count it had about 98 million more views than the Juggalo doc. After going viral, thanks to buds like Clooney and Diddy, the video landed Russell and his Invisible Children comrades on the cover of Time, and ultimately made Joseph Kony the world’s most infamous celebrity. Mission accomplished, right?

“Oh, we’re not stopping there,” exclaims Russell, who lives in Encinitas, and jokes he’s become addicted to Cafe Virtuoso coffee since IC’s recent move into their Barrio Logan offices. Most recently, they launched the #ZeroLRA campaign. “It emphasizes trying to help the child soldiers in Central Africa escape so that no one will be left to fight except Kony and his family.”

Still, if Russell ever gets tired of altruism, the self-proclaimed “theater geek” from El Cajon, whose parents founded Christian Youth Theater (now known as CYT-USA—it’s the largest children’s theater organization in the country), could have a future writing Broadway musicals, or, at the least, marketing the next big thing.

“People will come up to me and say stuff like, ‘So I have this garden company and I want our video to go viral…’ As if I have a 30-second secret to give them. Yeah, I could probably take advantage of that, but for me it’s all about the story, and all I want is to tell stories that will change the world. That’s really my only point of interest.”

Godspeed, sir.

Russell’s Hots
Hot yoga at CorePower, Steve Jobs, Urban Solace’s cheese biscuits, pizza and hula-hooping at Besta-Wan pizza in Encinitas

Russell’s Nots
Warlords, PB street corners, the 5/805 merge at 5pm, slacktivism, non-local non-IPA beers, the commute to Golden Acorn