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Behind the Story: How the Viral Lego Freeskier Video Came to Be

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Labeling something as “viral” is always thin ice. Yet, with my all-searching eye watching the resort media landscape the day this caught on, it was very clear that within skiing circles, this video “went viral”. Here it is:

With photography week still on the brain, I quickly reached out to Devon Brown (the man behind the lens) to find out the story behind this amazing piece of creativity to see how it came to be and what resorts can learn from the clever story that spread through ski communities in a matter of hours.

Gregg: First, tell us a little bit about yourself: full name, where you’re from, etc.. In other words, in on paragraph, how did you get to where you are right now?
Devon: I’m Devon Brown from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been into making things, If there was something that I wanted to have but was going to cost a pile of cash I would try and find a way to make something like it by myself with stuff that I had. This translated well when I picked up making Lego movies at the age of 9. I’d have these Ideas in my head of what I would want to watch, then I had to learn how to make the ideas into videos.

Somewhere along the line I decided to put some of the movies I was making on the internet. I got some views and comments so I stuck to it and kept making them. Fast forward a plethora of years and I’ve somehow amassed a small army of people who enjoy watching my silly animations. I also grew up spending a lot of time in the mountains so eventually I got into skiing and biking and am now getting into filming that more.

Gregg: Talk a little bit about your style, what is your philosophy or what principles or goals drive the videos you create?
Devon: Traditionally my style’s been stuff that makes people laugh. Now that I’m a bit older the videos haven’t changed all that much other than the technical/quality side of things, but what I want to accomplish through them has changed. Kids these days need role models. If there’s no ‘cool’ role models around that do things out of the ordinary then the next generation of kids is destined to sit behind a television or computer screen and play video games all day. So now I guess it’s a bit more than making kids laugh, it’s hopefully sending a message that building and playing with Lego is still fun and ‘cool’, so is playing outside, exploring the natural world, riding bikes with friends, and whatnot.

Gregg: Okay, let’s dig into the Lego Freeskiing video. First, where did the idea come from?
Devon: This past summer during a road trip to Oregon I remember thinking to my self that a Lego skiing video could potentially be really cool, and something that probably didn’t exist on the internet yet with the scale I was thinking of. I checked online and there’s some other videos out there of freestyle Lego skiing but none of them really had really felt to me that they were made by someone who was really into skiing and ski culture. I saw an opportunity to make something new so I got after it.

Gregg: Awesome. Start to finish, how long did it take you to create your movie?
Devon: I think I started sometime at the beginning of January, so 6 months with me working on it off and on between school, some other video projects and going skiing.

(stills taken during creation)

Gregg: What were some of the biggest challenges when trying to make a lego skier look like a freeskier and really tell the story of a sport built on tiny flakes when your medium was plastic bricks?
Devon: Essentially all the shots of him skiing don’t exist anywhere but on a computer screen, so animating the figure in front of a blue screen and trying to visualize what it’s going to look like in the end was tough. I also had no idea how I was going to do the whole powder skiing part of it. I ended up simply drawing out the snow around him frame by frame on the computer and then blurred it out a bit. I’m glad it all turned out pretty good in the end!

Gregg: Last time I checked, you had just a shade under 75,000 views on the video. From your perspective, why did your video explode so quickly the way it did?
Devon: I suppose it was just because no one had ever seen something like it before. Pretty much everyone who watched the video has done something with Lego at some point in their life. People related to it, and from reading posts about the video online it seems that it has sparked a whole lot of nostalgia which is pretty cool.

Also the freeskiing community in general is pretty tight knit, so once something makes news on one of the sites it spreads like wildfire among the community. I would have been stoked if only a few people watched it and liked it, the fact that a bunch of people in the industry I’ve looked up to over the years have seen it and tweeted about it and such is beyond crazy. I feel humbled and blessed. Thanks everyone!

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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