Why I shot so much this winter and really didn't make any money. (2016/2017) / by Julian Focareta

Honestly.. what the hell did I do to my brain, body, and bank account during the winter?

It’s hard to explain so here’s 30 seconds of what this winter season looked like:

As you can see, not every day out was a successful one this season.

It all started last year. I dove into shooting massive amounts of snowboarding hoping to put together a season edit. Every weekend we would leave Connecticut at 6pm on a Friday and arrive in Vermont around 9:30pm and grab a late dinner at our staple The Garlic. Afterwards we would head to my friends' condo and relax with many Founders All Day IPA's and Moscow Mules. It turned into a few months worth of boozing hard, riding hard, and documenting it all. Man, it was the dream.

Here’s 30 seconds of what last winter looked like:

We walked away with SO much footage. Roughly 1 hour of selected footage. The ratio of late night partying footage to snowboarding footage was way too close though. We partied a lot. To us, it was a mini vacation every weekend. On Sunday nights we would pack the cars and head home for our day jobs on Monday that had nothing to do with being on a mountain.

I honestly rode some of the best conditions of my life, made some awesome memories, and just had some genuine fun. But after all that time and money spent (on paper) what did I walk away with? We submitted one of our edits into a contest that was actually fake and then the spring and summer took over and that season edit didn't exist until 9 months later... I walked away with 6/7 Instagram edits and an introduction into shooting snowboarding. Hey, I'll take it.

Here's one of those fun ass instagrams from last year:

After what seemed to be a longer-than-usual spring and summer, I was so excited to get back into shooting some riding. However, this year I was looking to turn it into something I could start establishing a piece of my career off of.

Well, this season was… interesting to say the least. Let me put it this way. We live in Connecticut - the most unpredictable winter weather on the East Coast. This winter, though, was fantastic in terms of snow.. But when you and your friends all work 9-5 jobs, it isn’t as easy to put together a season edit as you would think. So this time, I was set to put together this film about what it means to be an East Coast snowboarder.

Well to our surprise we didn't walk away with what we wanted. We walked away with a great mid season edit but after that things became a bit too hectic.

 Photo by  Dan Ney

Photo by Dan Ney

I'll tell you what though.. I had the time of my life shooting this winter. Yes it was frustrating at the end of the day sometimes when all I thought we walked away with was one or two clips. What I didn't realize is that I spent my whole day outside enjoying the hell of a day it probably was. Yes, hell of a good day or hell of a day in terms of negative numbers of degrees.. And yes I most likely just purchased a lift ticket to stand behind a tripod and watch my homies ride... However, I did walk away with a free snowboard and a good amount of free days on the mountain but that was besides the point. 

I can be honest, it can be discouraging watching all these great shooters out there making ACTUAL money off shooting cool stuff like this. My goals were simple this year: push some content to a few local brands, film a few competitions, and put the whole track together in a quick piece about riding in these conditions. I was able to fulfill just a few of the small tasks within those main goals though. 

Here's one I tried to push to Rome Snowboards:

At the end of the day, this whole process brought me back to why I began filming. Once we get a sniff of the industry all we want to do is get paid and work with noticeable clients and productions companies. I can be honest, I am guilty of it too! But sometimes we need to remind ourself of why we started, and thankfully this winter season I did that. The whole reason of becoming a filmmaker was because I was just so interested in it. I believe we should aways continue to push ourselves to step back from the hustle. We shouldn't let it stop us from pursuing our own ideas and content. For all those extra hours I put in on top of my day job this winter will never show in any client list or creative resume.

I can tell you what though, I learned a hell of a lot about the way I shoot and about myself as cinematographer. I can tell you I was better on the last day than day one. And sometimes, it's just as easy as recognizing that I've improved as a filmmaker that will help me go to sleep at night. (Key work: sometimes...) 

I couldn't have done it without the great help of my friends (the riders- you know who you are) for always pushing the limits to get certain shots. Also, shout out to my man Steve Ying who was always up with me at 4 AM heading to get that sunrise footage. (Only took us 4 months to time it perfectly)

Get out there and kick ass people! We're all guilty of worrying about making ends meet and putting that green stuff in our pocket. Sometimes it's okay to step back away from the work and enjoy the original thing.

Oh and by the way, here's this year's edit if you haven't seen it:

Freedom Riders | 9TO5

And here's one more before you go:

East Coast Southrise | Mt. Southington