Q&A with Jim Sanco, Videographer and Brand/Media Manager at BlackStrap Industries

By Alisha Jucevic

I recently conducted an interview, via email, with Jim Sanco, a freelance videographer and the Brand and Media Manager at BlackStrap Industries. He started filming in the 2008 – 2009 winter season as a video intern for Oregon Adaptive Sports. He has also shot event & commercial work, and worked on a webisode series called “Bachelor Fun”.

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Q: When did you first become interested in Snowboard Photography and Videography?

A: I think I have always been intrigued by media production in action sports.  Growing up watching snowboard/ski/skate videos truly influenced my life growing up. At the time I knew I wanted to be involved in the Ski/Snowboard Industry at some capacity.  I competed in snowboarding throughout high school and moved to Colorado a couple weeks after I graduated from high school.  Living in Colorado is amazing (5 minutes walking to the gondola house, tons of pow & tons of friends that are super motivated). However, after 4 seasons there I had racked up an orthopedic injury list including a full knee reconstruction, 2 separated shoulders, a broken ankle, a ruptured Achilles tendon, and a handful of head knocks.  Moving back to Oregon gave me a new perspective on “what” I wanted snowboarding “to be” for myself and I began to transition from someone who wanted to be in front of the lens to someone behind the lens & computer.

Q: How did you get connected with Mt. Bachelor to produce content for them?

A: I’ve been filming at Mt. Bachelor for 4 season now an this year was the first year that I am actually producing content for Mt Bachelor with the Park Check Series.  I pretty much just kept getting after it and producing content.   It took some time, but every edit, and every season, I’ve gradually developed my own kind of style with how I film, edit, etc.  Over the last year and a half, or so, the crew of riders I have been filming with put together a couple edits both at Bachelor and then at Windells.  I don’t know if those edits had any weight with “legitimizing” my work to the marketing/parks departments at Bachelor, but it may have.  I like to think that bring persistent & relationship building are what truly got me on board with Mt. Bachelor in the end.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards when shooting winter sports?

A: I think the challenges for producing differ between every filmer out there.  I’m fortunate enough to have some of the major concerns covered.  I have a crew of amazing guys & gals that are always down to get after it, whether it be in the park, back country or urban.  I have a resort that appreciates the time & effort that goes into producing the amount of content that I do (14 edits for Bachelor this season).  But challenges about how I operate include: weather (obviously), working a full time, Monday through Friday job, trying to stay healthy, and keeping all my equipment functioning.  Weather is always something that will have an effect on any session, effecting equipment, speed and the quality of shots.  Working Monday through Friday makes it tough, as I really only film on weekends.  The last two season I have been filming with a Glide-Cam with my Panasonic, the whole set up has to weigh 9-10 pounds.  Carrying that rig through  jump lines can be super sketchy, having to roll knolls, keeping up with the riders, while they are in frame, and sometimes even hitting jumps side by side.  I’ve definitely slammed pretty hard [on landing] with both cameras.   For me, everything is a reward at every stage of production.  I truly enjoy it that much. As long as I’m on snow, with my friends, I’m happy.  But, nothing is better than showing one of the riders the shot you got of the trick they spent, who knows how long, trying to land perfectly, and seeing their reaction. It truly keeps me motivated trying to get everything, every time.

Q:  What is the most influential session you recall shooting?

A: Here is an edit we filmed/edited/cut in 18 hours. This season was also the first year I spent a fair amount of time shooting urban, there’s so much more to it, just to get a single shot or two.  Compared to a park edit, I probably work 10 times as hard keeping equipment functioning, shoveling, running cables, lights & generators and filming. This is all while the riders are working 20 times as hard to likely get one or two shots from each four or five hour session (including building).  Four or five hours in a terrain park will give you a ton to work with, urban is a whole new game, and sometimes you come out with nothing.

Q: As the Brand and Media Manger for BlackStrap Industries, do you help produce visual content? What is you favorite part of this job?

A: I wear a number of hats at BlackStrap, my involvement with Team development and management is one of my favorites.  Most of our riders work all winter & summer to produce a video part each season and I do the filming & editing for those parts.  Getting to be hands on with creative design for marketing and products is probably my favorite part about my job at BlackStrap.  Doing graphic design work for merchandising, packaging, logos, catalogs & products is such a tangible thing when you bring something from and idea, to a graphic design, to a product that is actually on the shelves.

Q: What were the first steps you took to break into this industry? And what are some of the other companies you have worked for?

A: I got into the ski and snow industry first by working on Park Crews, in shops, tuning skis, riding a ton, and going to school in a place that surrounded myself with people who had the same ambitions (Colorado Mountain College, Steamboat Springs CO).  My first job outside of shop work was an Intern Demo Rep with Liberty Skis. I helped with some sales with Moment Skis. Then I went back to working at a resort (Hoodoo),  when I moved back to Oregon for a couple seasons and did retail sales for Helly Hansen.  All of these positions helped me network at many different levels, I’ve met some of the most talented and passionate people at every level of the industry.  I literally fell into my position at BlackStrap two years ago via a couple friends that I filmed. They introduced me to the owner (and my current boss) of BlackStrap. A 30 minute conversation later and I basically quit my other job and havn’t looked back since.

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