Organized Chaos: Behind the Scenes on a Western Video Shoot Tour
With each twist and turn of the Texas highways and country roads brought new sights. The truck was seemingly packed with enough camping, sleeping, and hunting gear for a small army. Though I was driving, I had the proverbial spring in my step.
I love hunting; a lot. For me, any outdoor endeavor represents a sort of sweet spot. I also like the planning and travel associated with it. That includes actual hunts, as well as scouting trips, workdays, and what I like to call creative days. The latter is simply the occasions I dedicate to gathering imagery of the outdoor spaces I roam. However, beyond deer encounters, sunrises, and backstrap lies all sorts of subplots, successes, and bloopers; and I’ve learned they’re all a special part of any outdoor adventure. There are wrong turns, equipment failures, and of course occasional user errors such as missed shots. By the way, my blooper reel often extends beyond the field to other facets of my hunting travel, not the least of which is my packing blunders. Luckily over the years, I’ve added structure to my hunting journeys, employing systems that make them more seamless and enjoyable. Still, it’s not out of the question for me to forget a pair of binoculars or a hunting knife. It happens.
Let me backpedal a bit and say, I kind of like the planning and travel associated with my adventures. To be honest, it can be a love-hate relationship.
When REVOL Entertainment Founder Clint Easley and Editing Director Kyle Martin embarked on a recent 12-day photo and video tour, it got me to thinking about all that entailed. Afterall, their zig-zagging trek through Colorado and Washington State would involve a lot of outdoor adventure, back stories, and drudgery. My eyes glazed over. I couldn’t help but compare it to my less aggressive mini-adventures. It sounded exciting, yet daunting.
I quickly came to the realization that everything associated with my personal hunting travel must pale in comparison to that encountered by professional outdoor photographers and videographers. I could only imagine the possible side stories associated with the adventures of an outdoor brand such as REVOL. As a writer and storyteller, I knew there was a lot of relevant content there, not to mention, aspects foreign to me and many other outdoorsmen.
The two outdoor creators set out on their western mini-voyage. Being a novice, yet a passionate fan of outdoor content creation, I had to learn what this looked like through the lens of an established outdoor videography brand; the nuances inherent to such travels, as well as the necessary structure that such endeavors required.
A Handful of Clients and a lot of Windshield Time
I already had a mental image of the two creators hitting the highway for such an undertaking. Right or wrong, I likened it to my many hunting and scouting excursions across vast Texas landscapes. Joke-telling, sharing, and shop talk automatically came to mind. But there was more to this adventurous, yet business-laden journey. Sure, it would be a time to exercise creativity and establish and maintain relationships with clients in the outdoor niche. However, I would learn it entailed so much more.
This particular voyage would include two states, a company commuter car, rental cars, and multiple flights. My head spun as Easley explained the complicated itinerary that got them where they needed to be at each stop.
"Despite extensive planning, our time traveling between client shoots and events is often convoluted. It’s also precious. It’s not only an opportunity for game-planning but, out of necessity, it’s also a time to get some shuteye", said Clint Easley (Founder of REVOL Entertainment)
Best Laid Plans
Upon their return from the 12-day stint, Easley methodically described the many twists and turns of the trip. I could only liken their itinerary to an advanced calculus equation – in Portuguese.
Starting at 3:00am in the morning, the first leg of the trip alone took them from Mount Vernon, Washington (famous for their Skagit Valley Tulip Festival) to Seattle (SeaTac Airport), from there, landing in Colorado Springs, and then a 2.5 hour drive South to the famous Harteis Ranch, a world-class hunting destination and majestic property in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Southern Colorado. If the Harteis name sounds familiar, it’s likely due to professional hunter, Freddy Harteis from the Sportsman Channel (Executive Producer of Hollywood Hunter, The Maverick, and currently in production Stonewall Valley's, The Outfitter). On tap was a 4-day turkey hunting event with Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA) in conjunction with Cabela's. It was then time to return to Colorado Springs for a rental car pickup before heading 5.5 hours West to the Delta, Colorado area for a filming session with Mountain Off Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.), a client that produces stout accessories for off-roading and overland adventures. #outfittingthosewhopushboundaries
The beautiful Harteis Ranch, lodge, and wildlife.
Keep in mind, that this was just a fraction of REVOL’s western tour. Is your head spinning yet?
“The exercise of navigating a trip like this has been eye-opening for me to say the least”, said Martin, an accomplished creator & skateboard company business owner...not accustomed to the scale of such an excursion and still just getting warmed up to the hunting world.
He continued, “This was kind of my maiden voyage for this kind of trip. I’m learning a lot from Clint for sure”.
Strategizing and Prep
As Founder and CEO, Easley has seen his share of business travel as a creator. Between client visits, video shoots, hunting seasons, and trade shows, it’s a grind. And with 130 to 170-days on the road annually, REVOL’s wayward endeavors require preparation and very organized game plans. There is much to consider, including logistics and creative goals for each unique client. To bolster their pre-planning efforts, Easley and Martin utilize adhesive whiteboards on each of their office doors for on-the-fly documentation, planning, and sharing. Such aggressive preparation is required, as once at a shoot, it’s go-time.
While arguably not the most exciting aspect of outdoor travel, I would soon learn just how crucial effective packing was to the wayward creators’ success. While Easley was already well-versed in this need, Martin was getting a crash course. While not new to all outdoor content creation, he would certainly be learning the ropes of optimal packing approaches and a myriad of other phenomena common to large-scale photography-videography tours. Baptism by fire, as they say.
Needless to say, well thought out SKB Cases packing systems are required to make such ventures as seamless as possible. This includes storing all gear the same way every time, as well as placing it based on the order in which it will be used upon arrival. Failure to tend to details means on-location disorder and even failure.
“It’s taken me a many years to improve my packing approach. When we arrive for a shoot, minutes count. We’ve got to be able to seamlessly grab our gear and go. It not only minimizes stress but maximizes our end product. We owe that to our clients and partners”, said Easley.
Majestic Places and Quality People
Aside from the creative outlet, there are other remarkable aspects of an outdoor brand’s travel. For one, there’s the opportunity to work in beautiful outdoor spaces. This trip included a few such locations, including the beautiful Stonewall Valley area of Colorado.
Of course, with such trips also comes establishing and maintaining special friendships with a bevy of great people. The unique cast of characters encountered along the way is extraordinary. Relationships are formed and friends are made.
REVOL's travel takes them to beautiful outdoor spaces like Colorado’s
majestic Stonewall Valley region.
This area has been known for some historical figures both good and bad, such as, Theodore Roosevelt, John Rockefeller, and Al Capone. Featuring beautiful rugged alpine beauty, it’s a great spot to call your office for a day ...or six.
“In this line of work, the places we get to visit, the incredible history that surrounds it, and the people we meet are all a wonderful privilege. We’re very blessed in this way”, said Easley.
It’s a mutual sentiment, as REVOL’s clients know they’re not only dealing with talented creators, but authentic people who appreciate it.
“From the initial phone conversation to working on location, Clint and I clicked. Kyle was fantastic as well. I also appreciated Kyle’s confidence and Clint’s sincere willingness to solicit his thoughts and suggestions”, said client Scotty Doughty, Owner of Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E).
Promoting Outdoor Adventure and Helping Others
Like all outdoor creators, the REVOL bunch loves their work. Amongst all hoops they have to jump through to create great content, one thing remains constant; there is always a creative itch to scratch. In this line of work, there are plenty of outlets. As mentioned, REVOL’s work inherently puts them in front of and alongside some awesome people. Additionally, there are also the times the brand gets to be part of great initiatives and events with far-reaching goals and results.
On their final stretch (located in Kettle Falls, WA), there was no better example than their date with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the First Hunt Foundation, an organization that provides hunts and mentoring for youth through hunting adventures. For this leg of the trip, dividing and conquering was vital and Easley, Martin, and Production Manager, Kramer Robinson (who joined up with them at Spokane Airport) all were behind cameras to capture the meaningful event.
REVOL has the privilege of working with talented folks such as Ray Livingston (Mud, Sweat & Beards / @ray_modernsurvivalist) and great organizations like the First Hunt Foundation & National Wild Turkey Federation which provides mentorship for new hunters.
The main thrust of the organizations is to give individuals their first experience in hunting so they can go on to build life-long hunting skills. The initiative among other things helps to combat declining hunter numbers, foster hunter retention, and create an understanding of hunting's rightful place in life.
“FHF believes the hunting heritage in the United States is a vital part of the culture and the American experience. Hunting is a natural part of our lives and our mission is to keep it alive”, says FHF President, Rick Brazell.
The event included approximately 30 new hunting mentees and mentors combining forces on a first time turkey hunt experience, and REVOL was there to capture and promote it. What a privilege.
“What an honor it was to participate in and document such a profound event”, said Easley.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?
At its first release, the flipside of the Rolling Stones’ mega hit, “Honky Tonk Women” was a song named “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. B-sides are often considered much less-desirable cuts, if not throw-away ones. It’s not always true.
Every outdoor adventure has B-sides too. I could write a book about the backstories inherent in my hunting treks. Everything from flat tires and dead batteries to unexpectedly meeting interesting people along the way. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum many times. As expected, this aspect is likewise, alive and well in the REVOL crew’s adventures.
I’ve already touched on some of the good associated with the wandering life of visual creators. But what about the bad and ugly? With every undertaking comes the not-so-fun activities and curveballs. Therein lies the aforementioned drudgery associated with the process. There are the expected parts of the grind such as packing, unpacking, and sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, there are also the unexpected events that lead to said drudgery. It can be trying.
A couple of such events occurred during the 12-day stint. First, during the shoot with M.O.R.E, Easley’s drone crashed, leading to an unexpected trip to Best Buy for a replacement. Amid two 16-hour shoots with the off-roading brand, there was no other way. For good measure, more chaos ensued in Eastern Washington at the WDFW and FHF turkey hunting event. It was there that a new fiasco reared its ugly head when the crew’s commuter car took on brake problems. After a few hours in the tool shop and a 3 mile roundtrip walk to a local auto parts store, the rusted rotors and calipers were replaced, and new brake pads were installed. Luckily, REVOL Production Manager, Kramer Robinson who had brought the car from their Mount Vernon HQ, exercised his automotive skills and helped put the crisis to rest.
The REVOL crew went on location for some filming with Mountain Off-Road
“Just like in the office, it’s a team effort on the road – all-hands-on-deck. Kramer really came through for us.”, said Easley.
Between the broken drone and brake work, the REVOL bunch suffered $3,600 in damage control. Ouch. The reality is that it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. It’s sometimes part of the deal.
Misadventure and Maintaining Perspective
I pondered the misfortune, fatigue, and frustration of such a chain of events. Not unfamiliar with fiascos on the road, I pictured mild tantrums and choice words. On the contrary, Easley described the need for restraint and flexibility.
“Doing what we do, it’s important to maintain perspective and keep your eye on the ball. Getting overcome with frustration only makes things worse. As professionals, we strive to keep pushing forward. The work ahead isn’t going anywhere”, said Easley.
I can only wish I always had this fortitude.
He continued, “At the end of the day, we have a job to do. We try to learn from the mishaps. At the very least, the unexpected adversity we sometimes encounter makes for great stories and memories later”.
While stressful and frustrating, some of the less favorable B-sides on REVOL’s life on the road aren’t all bad if learned from and kept in perspective. They’re not only part of the process but part of the story.
The Big Picture
For many, there’s nothing quite like raw outdoor adventure. The likes of backcountry hiking, hunting, snowboarding, or off-roading are but a few of the endeavors many enjoy in outdoor spaces. Behind such activities, lies not only the adventurers, but those that host events and create gear that enhances them.
Then there are the creative videographers that pull it all together; bring them to life.
Behind every hunt, outdoor excursion, television show, or event are those adventure-seekers that take it a step further by capturing the lifestyle through stunning video and photography. However, nothing so challenging and rewarding comes without toil.
“Clint and his crew did everything they said they would do and more. I’m blown away at their artistic eye and can’t wait to see the end result”, said Doughty.
I’ve already learned a lot from the crew at REVOL Entertainment. While it’s only part of outdoor content creation, the planning, travel, and required resiliency required for it looms large. After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about quality storytelling – storytelling that celebrates the people, places, gear, and events that celebrate the outdoor lifestyle.
REVOL accomplishes this, not only with cameras, but imagination, planning, hard work, and persistence.
Luckily for me, my next hunting trip now seems like child’s play.