With the increase of accessible multimedia platforms, individual filmmakers are at par with major production houses in creating visually stunning content. Gone is the time when mainstream content from big content powerhouses was the sole access to entertainment. Now, anyone with a camera, an aesthetic eye and the passion to develop and curate their own content can pool into the digital space. In this increasingly popular space of independent creative filmmaking, TheVibe partnered with CoLab Creative, a New Zealand based lifestyle filmmaking company known for their inspiring visual stories featuring daring adventures, offbeat locations and creative narratives. In conversation with founder Will Lascelles, we uncovered the journey, basics and lessons of lifestyle filmmaking.
Having grown up in California, with its beautiful outdoor landscapes and activities, Will had an innate passion for creating and curating content. ‘My mother is a chronic picture taker… I never liked to be in front of the camera so I quickly found a way behind it,’ said Will. ‘I have had a camera in my hand in one shape or another since.’
He grew up filming his friends ski, wakeboard, free style motocross and found his adventures through filmmaking. Having travelled the world, shooting in places like North Korea or avalanche prone terrains, his work includes dangerous locations and unnerving adventures. While slogging 40 kgs of camera equipment upto 6000 m or trying to navigate through the paperwork to get a camera into North Korea, it is his sole passion for his work that keeps him going.
‘When I am on location in a dangerous scenario, I am looking through the lens and it feels like I am watching TV,’ he said. ‘I think I am just able to tune out from reality and fool my brain that I am watching something rather than experiencing it first hand!’
This passion translated further, when he met his wife Olya, 8 years ago while she was shooting a ski movie called Azadi in Kashmir. ‘She was a sight for sore eyes and had a spirit about her that was addicting,’ he said. ‘This past April, we were finally married in Egypt.’ In the demanding space of filmmaking, their line of work demands that they travel overseas for 90% of their time. ‘It can be hard to be away for such long periods, but it makes the time spent together that much more rewarding,’ said Will. However, their mutual passion for filmmaking also makes them a great team. ‘Olya is the first person to put her hand up for fun projects or adventures,’ he said. ‘Being Russian, I don’t think she even knows the term ‘dangerous!’
It is this extra edge that brings the X-factor to CoLab Creative’s work. With over 300 hours of video getting posted to YouTube alone, every minute, the competition for viewership is exponentially increasing. They shoot on volcanoes or 30 m below the surface, accessing dangerous locations to make their content even more unique and enjoyable for their audience. ‘We make the risks clear to everybody before going on a trip, but often we don’t know what dangers will arise when we get there,’ said Will. ‘It’s important that everyone on the crew has the necessary experience and a level head in case something goes wrong.’
Will’s unique approach to filmmaking, wherein he doesn’t storyboard anything till he starts shooting, keeps his work organic and natural. With a freestyle approach to his films, his crew consists of like-minded and skilled individuals that are prepared for a u-turn at any time. ‘It allows us to be fluid with the filmmaking process and for natural scenes to be integrated in to the storyline naturally,’ said Will.
This requires a strong mental game wherein attitude of facing natural setbacks head on is crucial when getting a crew to a remote location or charging batteries in sub-zero conditions. This also requires fitness so that you are not slowing down the team or potentially missing a shot due to being out of breathe or just being flat out incapable of getting somewhere.
TheVibe met Will this past July, and our aligned interests in storytelling and Will’s enthusiasm at shooting in India led to our collaboration. In our effort to portray the unparalleled beauty of India, our crew adapted to this type of filmmaking.
‘The team at TheVibe blew my mind with their network across India,’ he said. ‘I was always pushing for beautiful locations and they always had an answer and options.’ With a mutual goal of producing stories that promote active lifestyles, we set to actively encourage our viewers to explore nature and their innate sense to #FeelTrue.
Shooting films in India is a visual treat, with its diverse landscapes, cultures and colors. The Himalayas, with their raw beauty and untapped potential are incomparable, making it a global destination for mountain lovers, avid skiers and filmmakers. The amount of terrain that is available at the top of Phase 2 in Gulmarg, the natural bounty in the North East and the unexplored nuances of culture make India a source of constant imagination. Independent filming is thus channeling this potential into a unifying visual market. ‘As more and more film productions are being made in places like Gulmarg, I think people are beginning to understand that it is not a dangerous place to visit, and instead, a place that can truly give you a lasting great experience,’ he said.
With future plans to return to India and maybe shoot in the far North East, Will encourages anyone who is passionate about adventure and storytelling to follow their dreams. If you are a filmmaker, looking to start and confused about where you will end, the best thing to do is to just start creating. With increasing multimedia platforms in India and worldwide, curating and sourcing unique content, the market to showcase your adventures has never been bigger.
‘The best piece of advice I can give is to not follow what is out there already. Have your own voice and dare to be different. That is how you will stand out amongst the crowd.’
To find out what equipment and gear Will keeps in his backpack, stay tuned!
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About the campaign: At TheVibe we strongly are invested in working with talent from across the globe, we had a pleasure of working with one of the best adventure lifestyle filmmakers for our original series #Rushes – this gave birth to an idea of creating a creative residency for lifestyle filmmakers. The focus this week is Will Lascelles from Colab Creative and his story.