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Byron Wells transfers the gap in Park City with an RC chopper filming.  PHOTO: ERIK SEO

The blue print to making it big and going pro these days is more in the skier’s hands than ever before. In the past it seemed you had to know a photographer or industry guy to get your chance at getting published in a magazine and competition results were a must for those wishing to get sponsored.

Today thanks to the internet and compact video cameras, the middle man has gone. American skier Tom Wallisch is a prime example of a skier that posted short edits online and let his skiing do the talking. On sites like newschoolers, he gained a loyal following, by posting edits of his amazing skiing for all to see and before he had even reached a major podium, people already rated him as one of the best slopestyle skiers in the world. Within the freeride scene gaining recognition has been even trickier, unlike in the park you don’t just meet a photographer randomly at a jump and the right conditions come far less frequently. But in researching this piece, I came across a skier called Andrew Whiteford, a freerider who has gained a loyal fan base and sponsors through short POV edits with cranking music and great footage. It is the quality of the skiing, filming, music and editing that makes a good videoclip engaging. Whitford states in an ESPN interview, “to hold someone’s attention for upwards of four minutes is really challenging. I quickly realised you need to ski with a purpose, and find lines that give great perspective.” The reality is POV video edits alone aren’t going to get a skier to the top, but now it is certainly part of the arsenal. Sponsors and photographers can see first hand a skier’s skill rather than trying to interpret results. One of the issues with this new medium is distribution, people aren’t going to watch it unless they know it will be worthwhile, but now with social media skiers can create their own brand equity. The better the edits, the faster their viewership spreads. This viral effect is evident in the story of bike rider Danny Macaskill who starred in a five minute video shot by his filmer-flatmate. It was posted on Youtube in April 2009 and showcased this relative unknown’s bike riding skills. There was no Red Bull helmet, no big budget, just mind-blowing stunts. Those who watched it were so compelled to tell their friends that today it has been viewed over 24 million times and now Danny has that Red Bull helmet and the big budget.

VIDEO STAR By Hamish Acland

An interesting point in the narrative of Danny’s clip is that the heaviest move is at the start, ensuring the audience is grabbed hook, line and sinker. This is important especially when no one knew his name, nor the quality of tricks they were about to see. If it wasn’t captivating from the beginning, people would have simply clicked out. Holding a person’s attention is key. A person seeing the length of a video at seven minutes is less likely to click play than one of four minutes in length. The timing of when one posts a video and who features in it are also important factors. For Kiwi skiers there are some real opportunities to be seized during the Northern Hemisphere summer. This is when there is a lull in the constant stream of content on the major websites. Yet the passionate core community are still hungry for skiing action, so your chances of grabbing the limelight increases ten-fold as there are less videos competing for that position and furthermore, your content is current. Include footage of international skiers with their own fan bases and again you tap into the massive overseas web community and hits will multiply. It’s all in your hands. Just skip the middle man, grab a camera and get out there – ski, film and post and maybe you’ll be the next video star set for the big time.

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