This fall ChopShop had the opportunity to collaborate with professional skier Cody Townsend, as the editors of on his second self-directed film project entitled: Chasing a Rumor.
The film was inspired by a tip from a a single guy in the Ruby Mountains who had told Cody there were more steep, aesthetic lines like the famed “Terminal Cancer” couloir out there. Determined to find out it was true, Cody teamed up with Salomon athlete Josh Daiek for five days of exploration. Together they snowmobiled, skinned, climbed and skied lines deep in the Nevada backcountry, filming themselves along the way.
With over 100K views on variety of platforms, this self-directed adventure story has proven to be a success for Cody. We got in touch with him to find out what’s next, what’s behind his budding interest in self-production and his top pieces of advice for anyone just starting out on producing their own adventure films.
With years filming with the industry’s biggest production companies under your belt, you have recently started producing your own content (like Conquering the Useless & Chasing a Rumor).
Why the shift?
Cody: The main reason for moving away from big productions to a more independent style of self-produced ski media is simply because my desires in skiing have changed. Big productions rely on a tried and true formula of fast-paced, high-action skiing. Having done that style of skiing for more than a decade, I noticed my desires to explore and go on wild adventures was growing. Since I wasn’t going to get a big production company to shift their entire platform, I decided that I had to create the media around these adventures myself.
What motivates you to keep skiing and telling these adventure stories?
Cody: The fact that I don’t know what is around the corner is the main motivation. Every time I summit a new peak or go deep into new valley, there is this total sense of awe and wonder. Seeing a whole new world just opens up this feeling of hope and possibility. It makes you feel very alive, very excited and it’s something that I think translates to film and inspires an audience.
What is the biggest challenge you face in producing your own video content?
Cody: Oh man, where do I start?!? Now being on two sides of the lens forces me to think, plan and strategize far more than I ever could have imagined. From the preparation of gear to the mental mapping of shot lists to capture the story effectively, I’m required to constantly be thinking not only about the skiing and the adventure but the capturing of the skiing and adventure so the audience can come along for the ride with me.
How did using ChopShop benefit the production of Chasing a Rumor?
Cody: ChopShop was pretty much the single most important aspect of Chasing A Rumor. We had an idea, captured the adventure but then were sitting their with hours of footage on a hard drive. Since I’m a beginner video editor at best, ChopShop was able to take my idea of the story, gather all the footage and cut it into an entertaining piece that has gotten over a 100k views across many different platforms.
Do you have any more self-directed projects like this on the horizon?
Cody: I have a ton of ideas for sure. The next big adventure involves going to Europe with nothing but a backpack and a pair of skis and trying to ski and tour my way across the alps. It’s a true ski bum style trip that I’m incredibly excited for.
Top 3 tips for adventure filmers/ storytellers who are just starting out?
It’s the Wizard, not the Wand. Meaning, don’t fret about camera equipment. A good story shot on an iPhone will always be more valuable than a bad story shot in 4k.
Don’t Stop Recording. The best moments in films are often the most natural and spontaneous ones. So bring extra batteries and large memory cards so you can record constantly throughout the day. Quite often things that you never think are important become the most important in a edit or story.
Use a good editor! This ain’t an endorsement for ChopShop solely, a good editor can be the difference between a good film and a bad film. Consider this, Meru, one of the most successful and award winning adventure films in the past few decades took 4 years to edit and went through three completely different editing processes. Even the most amazing footage like what was gathered in Meru, needs a good director and editor to make it all come together in a cohesive and entertaining final product.