Switchback Entertainment Founder Mike Douglas has been producing Salomon TV’s wildly successful freeski films for 12 years. As a pioneer of the freeski movement and member of the famed New Canadian Air Force in the late 1990s, Mike knows his way around both sides of a camera. To help you create better videos of your own on-snow exploits, we asked Mike for filmmaking advice you can apply. Here is his advice.
Learn from Others
Take a look at the videos you like and try to figure out what they did to make it happen. I learned a lot about filmmaking by breaking down what other people are doing. From there, figure out why the shot you like is a cool shot and how you can do something similar that with your gear.
Filming with a GoPro
The most important thing when filming with a GoPro is to make sure you have the horizon in the frame so you can see more than your ski tips and the snow. The horizon is important to frame the shot. Take a few minutes to know the position of the camera on your helmet to keep horizon.
The Edit Room is Key
Be your own harshest critic. People don’t want to see six minutes of mediocre footage; they want to see two minutes of good stuff. So be critical of what is good and what you thought was fun and cool. If you want people to watch, be harsh with the editing.
You Don’t Need Fancy Gear
It’s a common misconception that you need a lot of fancy gear. With a smartphone and a GoPro you can make a really good film. There was a film that made it into the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 that was shot entirely on an iPhone.
The Magic Hours
Want to be great? Get up early and stay out late. The best times to film outdoors are early in the morning within a couple hours of sunrise, and late in the evening within a couple hours of sunset. We call them the Magic Hours.
Plan the Shot
People think we just point a camera at the guy as he skis down the slope. When we film Salomon’s Dream Trip freeski episode, the contest winner who comes along is always surprised with the time and consideration that goes into each shot. We spend a great deal of time on the angle we will film from, the foreground and the lighting. Only when those are set do we film.
Tell a Story
I’m a big fan of storytelling. So plan your day out. Even if you are going to shoot a GoPro video, have a beginning, middle and end. It makes it more interesting for the viewer watching. And the action won’t have to be as good because viewers will be carried along by the story
Get Out There
You won’t film anything great from your couch. Mike says the more time you spend out there skiing and filming, the better chance you’ll have of capturing something cool. So get out there and have fun with it. That’s when good things will happen for you.