Industry Profile: Mack Dawg Cinematographer Gabe L’Heureux
05 Sep, 2008
Gabe: Filmer/Editor /Motion Graphics Designer, Mack Dawg Productions “Down with People” and Park City Mountain Resorts, “I ride Park City”
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Gabe: Not really. I think they were just happy I had a job and wasn’t just snowboarding anymore.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Gabe: Morrow Revert 147, I kind of got into snowboarding later in life since I grew up on the east coast. I think it was like 1994. Kier, Matt and Danny Kass were all in my USASA when we were kids. It was intense.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Gabe: K2 Believer 154, with Burton CO2 binders.
Shay: What was your first job?
Gabe: Auto mechanic/gas pumper.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Gabe: Pow day at Brighton or Crested Butte with all the old boys
Shay: Who are your influences?
Gabe: In snowboarding, I’m influenced by all the guys I film with. I really like watching Jeremy Jones, Joe Sexton and Jordan Mendenhall shred. Skateboarding influences me more than snow. Jake Duncombe, David Gravette, and Sean Malto are my favorite dudes right now.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Gabe: 14 years? I’m old.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Gabe: I don’t get to ride as much as I did before I started filming, that’s for sure. I probably ride about 40 days a year.
Shay: How many days are you filming a year?
Gabe: At least a 100.
Shay: Who influenced you to go into snowboard films?
Gabe: I just kind of stumbled onto it. I already was really into editing and the guys from the ski film company Matchstick Productions lived in my town. I was already working for Smith editing the team snowboard videos. The Matchstick guys taught me how to shoot 16mm film cameras and the following season I filmed for both them and Smith. From then on it just snowballed and I met more and more industry folks.
Shay: What goes into planning (locations, riders) for future films?
Gabe: Usually all summer we talk about future riders/locations. Really though now decisions are made until the fall after we have seen all the new videos etc. Since People has gotten bigger and bigger, more and more industry people are contacting us and trying to get their guys into the films. We love to work with up and comers. Each year it seems like a couple of really good young guys are coming up.
Shay: This year Mack Dawg is releasing two films, “Double Decade” and “Down with People”. Did you work on both films?
Gabe: I mostly worked on the People film. However, sometimes the crews mix together. I filmed with a few of their guys and did some motion graphics stuff for their credits.
Shay: The teasers seem very different but in your opinion what separates these films from each other?
Gabe: They are very different. We were brought on to MDP to make a film that is more targeted at the younger and more core snowboard audience. We just try and make something that is super fun to watch. We really want to have a fast paced movie and this year is no different. I think you truly get to know the riders in our films as well, its not just shot after shot. The other crew is killing it with ground breaking cinematography and the very best riders in the world. Everyone is pretty much copying them now. I don’t know how many teasers came out this season that looked like mirror images of Picture This. Double Decade is gonna be just as insane. Such good filming!
Shay: What camera/filming equipment do you use?
Gabe: The movie is edited in Final Cut Pro, all the graphics are done in After Effects CS3.
Shay: In editing, you work with music in the films. What steps are taken to use music and do you ever encounter problems?
Gabe: Music makes making snowboard films really hard. Its nearly impossible to get songs that you want and it costs a ton of money. I think we spent around $25,000 in music this season.
Shay: Do you match the rider to the music or the music to the rider?
Gabe: A little of both. In the end we decide if the song is gonna get used. However, many times the riders come up with a song and we really like it. This is the best way to do it. We want the riders to be pleased with their songs. Getting the licensing to the song is a whole different crappy ballgame.
Shay: From your previous films, what were some of your favorite films to work on?
Gabe: Down with People was probably my favorite so far. This season went really smooth. We edited in So Cal, it was a good time.
Shay: Who is your favorite rider to work with?
Shay: What do you see for the future of snowboard films?
Shay: What are your thoughts on people downloading snowboard films?
Gabe: I’m always looking for side projects. Currently, I’m editing the new Park City snowboard film, “I ride Park City”….its been a long summer.
Shay: What experience/education did you have before getting the job?
Gabe: Get up super early, snowmobile somewhere. Film the jump we built the prior day, then build another for the following day. If it’s summer we are talking about, wake up, stare at a computer for 15 hours, go to sleep.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from filming?
Gabe: China, Arlberg, Switzerland. There are a lot. Usually its not really like working.
Gabe: Premier time is the best part of the year. Its when all the long days pay off and you can actually enjoy your work and the other films in the industry.
Shay: What’s the best park you’ve gotten from your job?
Gabe: Not really sure. My life is fun and I don’t work in a cubical. That’s a perk!
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Gabe: I don’t have a Porsche, or a mansion yet.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Gabe: Summer time for sure. About 2 weeks ago was the busiest/most stressful time of year.
Gabe: Experience. Way more important. You can only really learn this game by doing it.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a snowboard cinematographer?
Gabe: I never ever thought I would do this for a job. I came from living in a little mountain town called Crested Butte not knowing anyone from the snowboard industry. I ended up just randomly emailing people wondering if they were looking for work and its ended up really working out. The advice I would give is just meet as many snowboard industry people as you can and don’t talk shit on message boards. Also, learning to edit and create motion graphics is very valuable these days. Many of the shred companies are now hiring full time video people. If you can edit as well as film, it’s a total package.