Rich Schwab is the executive producer of RBS Productions, which has shot TV commercials for Coach, Mazda, Subway, Progressive, Budweiser, Cadillac, Dunkin Donuts and other major brands.

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success.

Executive Producer, RBS Productions

Favorite faculty: Professors Katopes and Rosenberg

Most important qualities for working in production: “Patience and the ability to multitask, communicate effectively, and deal with a lot of different personalities.”

Advice for current students: “Film has changed so much since I was a student. It’s a whole different medium. We’re in a digital age, which is really exciting. People can get their start in their dorm room, on a laptop. So, my advice is, if you want to make films, go make films! And make as many as you can. They don’t have to be big. They can be simple. It’s just about practicing and honing your skills.”

If you watch television, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Richard Schwab’s ’96 work. His production company, RBS Productions, has shot television commercials for big brands, including Coach, Mazda, Subway, Progressive, Budweiser, Cadillac, Dunkin Donuts, Sears and E*Trade, to name a few.

The main title sequence RBS Productions created for the History Channel series, Vikings, received a 2013 Emmy Nomination. “It was a special piece and we all knew it…but the experience was surreal,” said Mr. Schwab of being nominated and heading to Los Angeles for the Creative Arts Emmys. “It was crazy sitting there, looking at the stage I see all the time on T.V., but actually being there in person.”

Twenty years ago, Mr. Schwab could not have predicted he would be doing the work that he is today. A self-proclaimed “terrible student” in high school, Mr. Schwab said his dad found a flyer in the mail from Adelphi’s General Studies Learning Community, and he enrolled at the University. It was a perfect fit.

 “I can’t say enough great things about Adelphi’s General Studies Learning Community. I didn’t do well in high school, but this program saw potential in me and nurtured me,” he said. “It gave me the skill set I needed to succeed in college.”

During his years at Adelphi, he did a little bit of everything on campus. “I definitely took advantage of what Adelphi had to offer,” said Mr. Schwab, who was a member of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon; worked as a bartender at The Rat, a security guard, and an RA on campus; and hosted a sports talk show at Adelphi’s radio station, WBAU.

His involvement in radio led him to choose communications as a major, which required him to take some film classes. “I got together with my friends and we created funny movies,” he said. “We made some really good films. It was at that point that I thought, if I could get paid to do this, that would be amazing.”

After graduating from Adelphi in 1996, he landed internships at ABC Sports and Lucky Duck productions. Following these positions, he entered commercial production—working freelance as a production assistant. He worked his way up the ranks to production coordinator, production manager and eventually a producer. By 2009, he established RBS Productions.

As an executive producer, he is in charge of “the big picture.” Agencies or direct clients come to Mr. Schwab with an idea of what they want, and he ensures RBS executes it. Mr. Schwab also has the direct relationship between the director and the client. “As the executive producer, you are the liaison between the two,” he said.

While Mr. Schwab started on the creative side in this field, now he is more involved in production. “It’s logistics…figuring out how to do the commercial, how it can actually be accomplished,” he said. Responsible for thinking about the whole entire job, and coordinating all departments, from art and vanities to production and the grip and electric crew, Mr. Schwab has to get everyone on the same page with the director’s vision, and all within budget.

It’s no small task. But Mr. Schwab is always up for the challenge. “It’s pretty exciting. When you start a project, there are so many unknown elements,” he said. “And then when you execute what you thought would work and it comes out just right…that’s a pretty cool feeling.”

Published June 2014

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