How did you get into directing? Before I got into film, I was a climbing & mountaineering guide and immersed in the action sports lifestyle. I always had a love for the film making process and had studied film in college. Following guiding, and pursuing a career in film, I eventually wound up working for Warren Miller Films as a freelance Director/DP for a decade and traveled around the world filming action sports as part of a small production unit. This was a great experience as I wore many, many hats from producer to Director/DP. Action sports and the lifestyle is a world I know intimately, both as someone actively involved in the sports and through shooting. It’s been a natural progression that started with shooting and then evolved into directing and shooting national spots.
DPing is still a big part of what you do, even when directing branded work.
Absolutely. I love being behind the camera and if I have the choice I like to serve as the Director/DP and watch the story through the viewfinder shooting. If a project is complex enough I’ll bring on a DP or Operator but as the industry has evolved and budgets have changed, being able to both direct and shoot is something of a caveat in that it is both cost effective and gives me the opportunity to do two things I really enjoy doing.
What are your favorite kinds of projects?
My favorite kind of projects are those that tell a compelling visual story and have a high commitment to dynamic, beautiful images that take the viewer on a journey.
What do you like about commercials?
With commercials and branded work, I enjoy the challenge and opportunity to tell a story in a short period of time with great impact.
What’s something not everyone knows about you?
I’ve climbed Mount Everest twice in addition to having climbed 6 of the famed Seven Summits all with a camera in hand. As a former mountain guide, I never had the desire to climb Everest, but that changed when I was called to shoot a branding campaign on Everest for Eddie Bauer and their technical line of outerwear called First Ascent. Last spring I returned to film on Everest for the upcoming feature film Everest. Unfortunately our plans to shoot to the summit were cut short as a result of the tragic avalanche last spring that killed 13 Sherpas. Mountain climbing is about pushing past limits, and feeling human potential in a beautiful setting. Combining climbing and filming is merging two things I really love.
If you hadn’t pursued directing & shooting:
I think I would have pursued medicine or architecture. My dad was a doctor and he really appreciated working with people as well as the variety of experiences, which is also something I deeply enjoy about being a director. Like filmmaking, architecture is an evolutionary process that starts with a blueprint, similar to a script or storyboard, and then evolves into a building or production phase. Whatever I chose, collaboration would be a key component.
What makes you unique as a director?
When it comes to action and lifestyle work I think having an intimate knowledge of the subject matter really helps. I am still an avid climber, mountaineer, skier, mountain biker and whitewater kayaker. I not only understand the physicality of the sports and lifestyle but I know intimately how living the lifestyle and doing the sport strikes an emotional cord. Additionally, I have traveled around the world several times on film projects working in some very remote and difficult places having to be incredibly resourceful and I think this gives me a unique perspective on the film making process.