One of the craziest things in my filmmaking career so far has to be a mind-blowing offer to go and film in Las Vegas. I just wanted to share a little blog about how it happened, mostly as an excuse to show you some photos. But I hope that you find some kind of message in here about patience, faith and the art of putting yourself out there, because all of this came about because of a little snowboard film I made two years before.
It all happened really fast. I was offered the shoot in early February and two weeks later I had my camera, lenses, toothbrush and underwear all packed up in a single bag and on a plane to Vegas. But really, the foundation was laid a year earlier when I was in touch with a chap called Jamie Neale when my film ‘The White Line’ was released. He wrote a wonderful little review about the film for his website ‘snowresortapp.com’ and sounded like a big fan of what we were doing. Fast forward a year later and he had set up a new company called ‘roam and seek’, making ethically sourced snowboard garms and we were in touch again. As we conversed, I found out that he too was a filmmaker and headed up the motion picture department of a prestigious design company in London called ‘Conran Design Group’. As soon as I saw their client list and the quality of videos they were making, I offered up my camera and my eyes if they ever needed another freelancer. This is pretty standard procedure and usually it takes a while for an offer like that to be taken up, if at all…Two weeks later, I was offered a trip to go and shoot in Las Vegas. Mental.
So, I flew out as part of a crew of three which included two Jamies; Jamie Neale from Conran and a freelance sound guy called Jamie Frye. I’d never worked with either of them before, met one of them only once for about an hour and the other one on the day, at the airport. And yet, the whole trip felt like I was just like hanging out with old friends. I loved learning about them and hearing all about where their respective careers had taken them. It’s amazing to be in a creative space with other voyagers all treading the same path, and hear the stories of those further ahead. For me, that’s as exciting as it gets. All vibing off each others creative pasts whilst collaborating in the present and sharing ideas for the future. Despite the rapid turnover, long hours spent travelling and the tricks played by the time difference, I was on a constant high just being with these guys.
The craziest part is that we only shot for one day. We flew out on Tuesday, plotted on Wednesday, shot on Thursday and flew back Friday. So it wasn’t a holiday by any means, just a quick in out. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose what we shot or for whom, but this blog isn’t about the content of what we shot, it’s about the getting an opportunity. I have fun anytime I have a camera in my hands, it just so happened that this time it was with a backdrop of neon lights and the ding-a-ling of casinos. I suppose the take home message is that you can never know what opportunity lies around the corner as a result of something you’ve done before. You just have to make things with a pure heart and full commitment. Then, if you trust what you’re doing then some good will come of it. I got this opportunity as a result of making The White Line because an avalanche survivor who I met in Switzerland fascinated me. Nobody encouraged me to make the movie other than my own fascination, but I trusted that it was a worthwhile undertaking. It didn’t matter that I had to save up my own money to be able to pay for flights and kit. It didn’t matter that I put my body through massive physical challenges on the mountain or my sanity during the edit. No sponsors, no cash, no words of encouragement from a senior figure guiding me through the process. I can’t really answer the question of why I thought it was important to make the film, lest not on a little blog, but I knew that it was. I believed in the project and knew I was making something important.
Dragging my sorry carcass, a camera and a beat up rental board through waist-deep powder in 2012 never led to a thought about going to sunny Las Vegas. But all the things that I did on mountain and all the choices I made; the choice to keep going and to keep shooting even in shitty conditions and through coldness, pain and an emotional beat down from other people who didn’t understand why I wanted to shoot certain things. The choice to keep going with an edit that looked hopeless but starting again instead of giving up. And the choice to put the film out there and email as many people as I could to let them know about this thing we’d worked incredibly hard on. All of those things came together to take me to Vegas because there was a person out there who loved the film and wanted to work with me as a result of it.
So, do what you do with complete love and faith and you won’t go far wrong. Who knows, if you keep doing it enough, you might just get a lucky break. The confusing little trick is not to hope or search for those breaks though. Just work as hard as you can, putting your energy in the right things and let God and life take care of the rest. So, forget about me in Las Vegas and work on whatever you’re working on, even if it’s free, and difficult and tiring and just make it the best you can make it. Do right by every project you work on and take good care of them, and those projects will eventually take care of you.
Enjoy the photos!
P.S – We had to changeover in NY, so the snowy shots are from there.
For more of my 35mm photos, go here: 2014 in Film