the minds behind the locals project


Words by Cameron Kokes

The blind launch off the ledge, taken at full speed. The pow shot to the face in between the pines. If you live to ski, these moments replace the pain of a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call with motivation. These butterflies in the gut have the power to turn homegrown athletes into heroes.

The Locals Project, a new film and ongoing media exploration, shines a light on the personas of aerial wizards and backcountry guardians who define ski culture. A team of five creators (and part-time shredders) set out to capture the stories of people whose passion and free spirits define the mojo of ski towns. Their pilot trip led them to two skiing meccas: Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Snowbird, Utah. Now, the team lends their perspective on the experience.

Jacob Oster, co-founder & filmmaker

The Locals Project

Our stories focus on character and place as opposed to action-only imagery that saturates the Internet today. We want to focus on the people you may never experience or come across, because we feel those stories are relatable and resonate with a broader community.

Emerging from the Crowd

It’s our approach, as opposed to the content itself, that allows us to stand out—the way that we compliment and enhance our stories by delivering them through multiple platforms.

Becoming a Sage

A sage is someone who’s been firmly rooted in their sport, their town, or their art form for long enough to have amassed an arsenal of stories and experiences that give that person a certain credibility and insight that others don’t have. It’s the salty veteran that has done and seen everything there is to do in a specific place.

The Future

We’re trying to produce and compile more short features to populate the website. On social media, we’re going for eyeballs and engagement, trying to generate more buzz. A little further out, we’re working out the logistics of the trip to Cuba in the fall. Long term, I’d love to enter and win in film show awards and festivals.

Will Saunders, photographer

Shoot, Shred, Repeat

We skied in both Utah and Jackson and the only way to get some of these shots is by skiing right alongside these pros. It’s not quite as much fun because you’re hauling 40 pounds of camera gear and stopping every 100 feet. So I wouldn’t say we were killin’ it, getting all the sick lines, but looking back, we did ski most of the same lines as these guys, which is insane.

The Bottom Line

I’m looking to depict the real moments - before the action, after the action, completely apart from the action. After a long interview with Dave, “The Guru,” in Utah, the boys packed up and left, but I stayed another three hours just to get that one-on-one time where nothing is happening and it’s just him doing his thing. If I hadn’t stayed I never would’ve found out that The Guru’s go-tos are Natty Light with cheese and crackers. But I did, and now I know.

Scott Proctor, co-founder & designer


When you combine all these different people with their own strengths and skillsets, the potential for success is increased ten fold. Just having their perspective and enthusiasm driving the project forward is one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.

Simplicity Speaks

The key with any project like this is keeping it super, super simple. Less is more. I want to make sure people understand the essence of our project.

Work-Play Balance

It’s all about creating a life for yourself that’s in line with what you want to be doing. We thought, “We love skiing, so why not create a story around skiing?” Designing and making visual work for clients that represent the stuff you like to do just translates to a better, more honest final product that you’re more invested in.

Sam Ewer, project manager

The North Star

The spirit of the Locals Project is rooted in trying to discover what makes these athletes tick. We see them performing these otherworldly stunts, but no one knows their day-to-day, what they do every morning or what goes through their heads when they’re launching off cliffs or doing front flips. People like ourselves can more easily connect with that emotional, human side.

Big-Brand Connections

Scotty and Tommy did a fantastic job on creating the pitch book, and that was our tool for reaching out to brands and sponsors. It’s hard to convince people to hop on board when you’re relatively unknown, but these guys managed to pull it off.

Tommy Pettinger, filmmaker

Beyond Commercial

I’ve always wanted to branch out and do my own thing with like-minded individuals. For the past two years I’ve been working in the industry at a production company in Salt Lake, so the idea of branching out and doing something less commercial seemed really cool. I wanted to tell passionate stories about the things I’m interested in, and ultimately share that with the world.

Role Models

Camp 4 Collective is huge. Jacob interned there, so we actually got to work in their space. They’re key because they mesh the traditional action/outdoor video with awesome storytelling. BRAIN FARM is another. In terms of their style and mission, they’re badass and we always look up to them.

Striking Gold

The best moments for me happened in the editing room. We’d hit our heads against the wall for days trying to figure out what to do editing-wise. But every so often, we’d reach these serendipitous moments where we’d all realize that we had it, the right combo of depth of story, production quality and intrigue of the action shot.

Biggest Takeaway

The good nature of humans. Everyone was so stoked and willing to help us out, show us around town or show us these niche things that only they knew about. Every person we met led us to 10 other people who each had their own unique story. I just wish we had time to dive into them all.

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