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3 Takeaways from 5 Pro Athlete Influencers

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to work with my friends at Brandfly Studios with the brand of Milk. We were focused on creating a series of short doc-style videos with 5 amazing athletes from 5 disciplines. To say this experience was thrilling would be an understatement. The athletes were all awesome to be around, the production team was filled with the best in this field to work with and the overall experience reminded me how much I love this work.

When I started this company, in 2017, it was because of my genuine love for documentary filmmaking. Around 2007, while producing shows for NatGeo and Animal Planet, I fell in love with capturing real-life stories versus scripted commercials. I found the work to be a unique art form that required the ability to blend into people's lives and in a short time get them comfortable with sharing their most intimate details with a camera and crew standing around. It was not easy, but when it worked it was great.

Since that time capturing 'real-life' or 'organic' content, has become a centerpiece in brand marketing. Today brands love capturing behind-the-scenes moments with celebrities, social influencers, and even everyday people with unique stories. This style of content has saturated social threads around the world, which is great for content makers like me.

All that said, it's not often that one gets to do it with the likes of the NFL, NBA, and Olympic athletes. It's competitive, you need to bring your best game, and failure is not an option. So when we started on this project back in October I was definitely pinching myself. From the experience, I have three takeaways that may be of value to you.


Communication can be one of the most overlooked and underestimated parts of a production. I think it's because it's so easy to take for granted, but the fact is that a lot can get lost in translation. To prevent that start with listening intently and asking clarifying questions. This will help establish an understanding of exactly what the client wants and build trust. Then be sure your talent and team know your creative vision and everything you plan to do to execute it. It's going to get stressful at some point, so everyone knowing the game plan will help navigate that element.


The second piece of advice would be don't make the simple, complex. I am amazed at how often some of the best people in the industry get caught up in the complexity of their trade. It is in part, due to the fact that they have so much knowledge they don't know how to filter down to what is needed to execute. And in part, because they have a deep desire to feel significant and prove their worth. Imposter syndrome gets us all, so learn to censor and do only what is needed to complete the task.


The final piece of advice I would offer is to know when to move on. As a filmmaker who loves, loves, loves the beauty of a good shot. I am guilty of this. We're obsessive by nature. We want to get the lighting, the angle, and the focus all just right. However, you have to know when it's good enough and trust that better shots are coming. If you don't you'll risk losing the momentum of an entire shoot and momentum on real-to-life organic productions is everything.

To shore up, make a mental note of all the shots you need and the ones you dream to get. Then, as you work through your list, know in your head that you're going to find your iconic shots and know that the shots you might think will be iconic, just won't work. From there, be aware of your own obsession and trust that the hero shots are coming.

In closing, I would offer thanks and credit to all my colleagues and crew that participated in this production with me. It's cliche, but true. Without them, it doesn't get done (see credits and video links below).

Such a great time!

Drink, Milk.

NFL Detroit Lions | Frank Ragnow | #MILK

NBA Detroit Pistons | Saddiq Bey | #MILK

Sprinter's Viral Race & Social Fame | Ziyah Holman #Milk

Olympic Snowboarder | Jake Vedder | #Milk

Gymnast | Sierra Brooks | #Milk


Production: Endless Media LLC

Director/Editor: Barry Walton

Producer/Camera Op: Sean Hodgson

Camera Op: Noah Mendez

Camera Op: Logan Siegel

Camera Op: William Hughes

Audio Tech: Scott Loudon

Drone/Photography: Brian Sevald

Production Assistant: Zack Mason


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