On Set for the War Tribe Gear IceWeave video.
In February 2017, I had the honor of directing, co-filming and producing my first commercial video project. It was easily the most challenging creative project I had ever taken on. While I have made my own personal documentary style videos in the past, this was the first time I had ever worked on what was basically a small movie set with a handful of crew and actors and it was up to me to direct and make it all come together. For about the last year of my life, I had been looking for an outlet to really push myself outside my comfort zone and this did just that.
The concept for the video was fairly simple. The founder and owner of War Tribe Gear (an old friend of mine), Randy Olsson, really likes to find ways to incorporate amazing landscape scenery in his Brazillian Jiu Jitsu product photos and videos. This video was created as a launch for a new apparell fabric which WTG invented exclusively for their own products. The goal we had in mind, was not necessarily to highlight a particular gi, but rather to spark interest in this new original material. We wanted an epic wintery location which would be visually impressive and convey the “icey” concept we were aiming for.
I spent two days scouting locations all over Central Oregon and we chose Lake Billy Chinook in Culver, OR.
We chose it firstly for its visual impact, secondly because it’s very easily accessible by vehicle. We were able to park our vehicles only a few hundred feet away from the actual filming spot so it was easy to get the big heavy mats in position at the cliff edge without great difficulty. I contacted the state park office and obtained the needed permission to conduct the filming.
Storyboarding the video was something I had never done before and it was super valuable to the planning phase. We didn’t stick to it exactly, but it gave us the needed vision to plan and execute our shots. It was also during this process that we discovered all the legalities surrounding commercial drone use. We had originally planned to buy a drone and I would learn to fly it myself. But then, about a week before the shoot, we found out that there can be steep fines for unlicensed commercial drone use. So on short notice, we scouted and hired a local drone pilot – Gary Eidsmoe to the rescue. This is where my role changed from photographer to director.
I met up with Gary a few days prior and went over the concept and storyboard so that we were both on the same page on shoot day. He also did me the huge favor of shooting most of the behind the scenes footage as well. So big props to Gary on this project. ::Fist bumps::
We arrived on shoot day in a near blizzard. Bad for driving, but perfect for the scenery we wanted.
We were nervous for a while that the fog was going to obscure the scenery too much and detract from the visual impact we wanted, so we shot still portraits of the athletes first and put off the video filming until later. It worked out perfectly because the sky cleared and the sun came out just when we were ready. We could not have been more lucky.
For the actors, WTG sponsored athletes and BJJ world champions, Paulo Brandao and Milton Bastos, it was also their first time ever being in snow before. They got the real deal. Big props to you guys for enduring what mother nature dished out and doing to it all with a smile.
Here’s a few of the final portraits.
Left: Milton Bastos. Right: Paulo Brandao.
A good friend of mine once said, “Life begins outside your comfort zone.” I think that may be double true for creatives. It can be easy to find yourself in a rut sometimes doing the same thing over and over and never pushing yourself further. If you want to grow, you must break out of the routine and try something that scares you.