Both Sides of the Lens: Cam Riley
Stept Productions' hard-charging producer, filmer and skier details the balancing act
By Will Eginton
Cam Riley isn’t a household name in the freeskiing scene, but that may soon change. Two winters ago, Cam spent his time producing and skiing for the Stept Productions film, NetWork, and studying film at CU Boulder. It paid off. Cam’s closing segment in NetWork—comprised entirely of high-consequence handrails—led to a K2 sponsorship and an invitation to shoot handrails with Poor Boyz this past season. Cam took the winter off from school in order to focus on both skiing and filming, so it’s fair to expect big things from this multi-tasker.
POWDER.COM: When did you begin filming and producing Stept movies? Were you one of the original producers?
CAM RILEY: Well, this is the seventh project I’ve been a part of, starting with Blueprints. It was like my sophomore year of high school, so 2003-’04.
How do you and Nick Martini, Stept’s other filmer and editor, split up the duties? Do you handle more of the urban and handrail filming? Well, yeah, I pretty much handle whatever needs to be filmed. The majority of what we film is in the urban environment. In the coming years, we plan to get more involved in the backcountry, and I’ll have a hand in that.
Stept Productions’ 2011 trailer, ‘Weight’:
Your segment last year in ‘NetWork’ was shot entirely in the urban environment. Was that a deliberate decision? I mean, not really. It was just kind of how things worked out for me. Going into this year, my focus was not necessarily skiing as much as it was making the film. I was planning on focusing on production. Initially, at the beginning of the season, Nick’s plan at the start of the season was to ski full-time professionally. I was trying to pick up the slack on the production sides of things. But when Nick got hurt, he was able to take over that role. It really gave me the opportunity to ski. The fact that I was in school full-time meant that I mostly focused on hitting handrails when I could and there was snow on the ground. When the opportunity presented itself, it took up all of my free time. I haven’t really had enough time to do anything but hit rails in the past two seasons. My focus sort of remained on the streets.
Did you even buy a pass last year? Oh yeah, I’ve always had a pass, but I don’t use it all that much. Last season I was probably in the sub-20 day range.
Are the other skiers in Stept full-time students like yourself, or are you the outlier in the group? Actually, this was my first winter taking time off from school, and it really allowed me to do more filming. In addition to my Stept part, I was able to get some filming done with Poor Boyz Productions, and really focus on skiing. I got to go on a lot of handrail trips, which I have never had the opportunity to do before because of my full-time student status.
Do you think your segment from ‘NetWork’ acted as a catalyst for the industry support and film opportunities you got this season? For sure. Like I said, last season I didn’t really have a segment like that in mind, but I was just trying to be on skis when I could. I was just trying to have fun with it, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of going out and hitting handrails. My intentions were to put together a segment and maybe get some skis to keep me going or something like that. I had no idea what was going to come of it, and it definitely was a pleasant surprise.
Did the support from K2 change your mindset going into this past season, or did you have the same mentality as last year? I didn’t really change my outlook. I just wanted to keep that progression that I had in mind all throughout last year, and I wanted to continue with that. That was my only real intention. I was extremely lucky last season to not deal with any injuries until the end of the season, and then I faced a barrage of injuries going into this season. I collapsed my lung, blew my shoulder out, as well as a couple other small things. It kind of put it all in perspective for me, and it was really my first time dealing with injury. That was definitely an obstacle that I had to get past, and this season I definitely learned to do that.
So even though you are doing these high-consequence urban features, you really haven’t had that many serious injuries besides the lung and shoulder? Yeah, I would say within the past two seasons, I’ve really stepped it up. I mean, throughout my whole skiing career, I’ve tried to hit bigger and more difficult handrails that are hard to get, but I guess I’ve been lucky over the years. But now, I am fully aware of what can happen, but I’m not going to let it stop me.
What’s more rewarding: Bagging a difficult handrail or showcasing the film at IF3? I would say I get just as much satisfaction out of both. It is sort of one in the same for me. I consider the skiing and producing all part of the same project. The fact that I am able to contribute on the skiing side of things and production side of things is something I get a lot of satisfaction out of. It is something I’m going to try to do for as long as I can, and it’s the full deal.
What are you most excited about in the new Stept project, ‘Weight,’ due out in the fall? It is definitely going to present what we do: Skiing handrails, urban skiing. It is really going to show what it truly is. Hopefully we can accomplish this in an interesting way to skiers. But I think I’m really excited about showcasing the pure variety of our film. There is a ton of different, refreshing stuff. Nobody really has filmed on the rails we did this year. The entire movie will showcase new spots, and that is something we are really happy with.
Who do you think is going to have the breakout segment this year? Well, even though last year’s segment was somewhat of a breakout, but I would say Clayton Vila has stepped it up again. He definitely will have a segment to look out for. Actually, Clayton or Shea Flynn. He’s someone I’ve always been good friends with, and he’s never really had a full segment in one of our movies, and he really put together a sick one.
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