What came first – your love for filmmaking or your love for adventure?
Definitely my love for adventure. Growing up I did everything from rock climbing, to skiing, mountain biking, white water kayaking and surfing. I tried my hand at as many adventure sports as I could.
How influential has living in New Zealand been on your career?
I feel it has definitely helped. Having the winter when the US and Europe are in summer meant I was able to film with the biggest ski and snowboard athletes in the world while they lived in Wanaka and rode at the Snowpark. Working with Tanner Hall, the late JP Auclair, and Jon Olson was a great introduction to the brands they worked with.
What qualities does someone need to become a successful adventure filmmaker?
1. Be approachable and embrace teamwork
You need to be able to get along with everyone. It’s important to remember as well that if you're filming an adventure, there's a good chance you'll be working with professional, high-achieving athletes who have elite mentalities. Being able to work alongside all personality types and gelling well within a team is a massive help.
2. Be flexible
You need to be malleable with your story. You can plan as much as you like, but there's a good chance your story will pivot when in the fields. Roll with it and make sure you get enough generic b-roll of your talent not talking, this will help with any required story adjustments. For example, when we were filming "Shaped by Water", the snow conditions weren’t great, which is a big problem when trying to shoot epic skiing! It wasn’t an ideal scenario but that’s the reality of working in a mountain environment. And thankfully, it wasn’t the first time I’ve been in this situation. You can’t panic, and have to find solutions. A good skiing segment is made up of a lot more than just powder turns. We used our time in this incredible location to capture the majority of the storyboard that showcased the mountain environment and life in the mountains. Things like the alpine climbing scene, the epic wide shots, some great drone action, and the close-ups of Jess. We were then able to head back into the mountains at a later date to film the fresh pow turns.
3. Be willing to suffer
You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The best and most dramatic stories and footage often come from the toughest locations in the worst weather.
4. Never skimp on clothing quality!
This will help you stay outside when no one else wants to be outdoors! Keep telling yourself that you won't always be cold, wet, hurting, and exhausted. The adventure won’t last forever!