Daniel Thomson, where to begin. He’s made a lot of cool things you’re probably already familiar with but you might not have heard of the mastermind that produced them – but we’re letting the suspense build, you’ll have to read on to see what work his name is attached to 😉 Raised by an established filmer his dad’s name is on plenty of impressive film and bragging rights in the family, he won two Oscars! Dan took his natural gift, dedicated drive and passion for the outdoors into the Bow Valley five years ago and has never looked back. Flawlessly integrated into the community Dan’s work whether photo or video tells the stories of the people that make the Rockies so special. His most recent piece is of course, “Core Shots” his “love letter to the Bow Valley.” We couldn’t wait to connect with such a Banff based media force. Let’s get to it, shall we?!
INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL THOMSON
What is it about the Bow Valley that makes it home?
DT: The Bow Valley is amazing! The opportunity to spend so much time being active and pursuing your passions is amazing. Living in Toronto going for ‘brunch’ on the weekend just can’t compare to what’s just out your door in Banff. There’s also an amazing community in Banff and the Bow Valley and its incredible to be a part of that. But mostly it’s family, I’m so lucky to currently be living with my sister and my niece and its been amazing experience to see her grow up in Banff.
What inspires you the most?
DT: Inspiring others and using the power of media to have a positive impact and build community. I’m incredibly passionate about ‘doing good’ and helping people. I’m not interested in making meaningless or vapid content. Right now my biggest goal is combining ski content with that aspiration to make a difference. I find ski porn is so much better when you give it some context and a little story when it takes on a meaningful and aspirational quality and that is incredibly rewarding as a content producer.
What is it about the Bow Valley that instills creativity and the desire to share it with others?
DT: What inspires me the most about the Bow Valley is the incredible people who live here. The opportunity to get to know so many amazing people and share their stories is incredibly motivating. Banff has such an interesting cross-section of people and cultures, but we are all here for the same reason – to get outside and play in the mountains.
What projects/accomplishments are you most proud of since living in the Bow Valley?
DT: Since moving to Banff I’ve been lucky enough to produce content with Banff Centre, a series of short documentaries including an amazing story of Mexican artist Gabriela Fuchs who was working on a project about her dead father by looking at his ashes under a scientific microscope – the results were incredible! I was also able to work on projects featuring Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene, Measha Brueggergosman, Crystal Pite, Jimmy Chin, Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild and Malcolm Sangster from Sherpas Cinema. I also produced a short for CBC Arts on Against The Grain Theatre’s production of the Canadian opera Kopernikus by Claude Vivier – a truly underappreciated artist with an incredible story. It was humbling to have the opportunity to shine a light on Claude Vivier with the extremely talented Joel Ivany and Against The Grain Theatre team.
As far as skiing is concerned I most proud of the recent work with SkiBig3 and their amazing Ambassador Team. We produced some great content last season, including a great short on photographer Reuben Krabbe that I’m super proud of.
Skiing is such a passion of mine and I love combining my love for storytelling with my joy of skiing. I grew up skiing in Quebec and then at Jay Peak in Vermont and it’s always been such a huge part of my life. So being able to champion the sport that I love and highlight these incredible skiers and places is such a rewarding and fun experience. I’ve really been having the time of my life these last few years.
The most rewarding project has been a profile on skier boss Alexandra Armstrong. I met Alex filming a short on the women of Lake Louise’s Ski Patrol and I knew right away that she had ‘it’. Her skiing was incredible, but most of all she was down to earth, humble and worked harder than everyone else. Teaming up with her and seeing the success of our film, ARMY, has been a surreal experience. It played at IF3, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, won Local’s Choice at our local ShredFest put on by Crowfoot Media and helped Alex get on the North Face athlete team. Alex is such an amazing skier and an even better person. Its so awesome to see her make a name for herself and to have had a positive impact on her life is such a deeply rewarding feeling. I can’t wait to see what happens next, she’s just getting started. #TeamArmyA
The skiers and skiing in the Bow Valley is incredible and it’s amazing to be able to share that with the outside world. Banff doesn’t have the snow or scene of Whistler and Revelstoke but we have amazing terrain, a long season and when it does snow its super light and blower. All you need is 5cm’s and a bit of wind and the backside of Lake Louise and Delirium Dive at Sunshine is firing
When did you start to mix your creative eye and the mountains? How did you translate it into a career?
DT: Since moving to Banff it was a natural transition to start pointing my camera at skiers and trying to tell their stories. One of the amazing things about living in the Bow Valley is the booming tourist economy and abundance of jobs. I’m able to supplement my income with part-time work that allows me to chase my passion for skiing and telling stories around skiing without stressing about making an income from it. That freedom allows me to tell the stories I want to tell rather than ones I have to tell to make ends meet. Creative work is all-consuming and requires a lot of dedication and drive. Working on projects that fuel my soul and allow me to make a difference is what keeps me motivated.
For anybody that wants to get into the ski media game, my best advice would be to just start. Start making content and get it out there. Find good skiers and tell their story. Be conscious of what companies and resorts are looking for. Your five-minute shaky cam GoPro edit with copyrighted music isn’t going to cut it. But short digestible edits with good skiers that have a little bit of heart and soul can reach a wide audience and get your name out there. Just start.
What’s next for you?
DT: We just released a fun project for Ikon Pass with Ikon Pass Holder Robby Brown. The Ikon Pass, Epic Pass, Mountain Collective Pass, and other mega-passes have been getting a bad rap and fueling a disheartening aggressive form of localism in a lot of mountain towns – most notably in Jackson Hole. But without skiers, these resorts wouldn’t exist and tourist dollars is what’s fueling all of our amazing lifestyles. We wanted to get the word out that these Ikon Pass Holders and others are welcome and encouraged in Banff and the SkiBig3 resorts. Crowds aren’t really an issue in Banff, so we don’t have that local angst that more crowded resorts have. Through the power of the Internet, I hooked up with Robby, who had an incredible story of his own. His father had recently and suddenly passed away and this shocked Robby into quitting his job, seizing the day and embarking on an Ikon Road Trip across North America skiing as much as possible over the course of last winter. With a little bit of Canadian hospitality, we showed Robbie the best of what SkiBig3 has to offer. We lucked out with some fresh snow at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise and an all-time bluebird day scoring glory turns in the famed Purple Bowl in Lake Louise’s backyard. We are trying to convince Robby to come back for another visit this winter. Read his story and watch a video here:
And then next on tap is a labor of love and my ode to the Bow Valley Ski Community. (The film embedded at the topic of this article.)
I’m also looking forward to the upcoming season and getting after it with the SkiBig3 Ambassador team to continue sharing the great skiing and skiers we have here in Banff. I’m especially excited that Louis Panning-Osendarp (@biglousgram) is on the team this year. They call him Big Lou for a reason, he goes big! Lou is hands down the best skier in the Bow Valley, but he’s also humble, has no ego and is an all-round good guy. He is a freeride coach and drives the Zamboni at the Canmore rink. I’m super stoked to champion him and share his skiing with a bigger and bigger audience this winter.
Here’s a short I did with him last year.
Where can we see your work?
DT: Right now, my main channel for sharing my work is through Instagram and I’m really lucky to be able to contribute to sharing the Bow Valley stoke with SkiBig3 and their amazing Ambassador Team. I also have a ski touring specific project – Story of a Ski Tour,http://www.storyofaskitour.com/