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Spotlight on Ian Planchon

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Meet Ian Planchon, originally from Anchorage Alaska, now based in Minneapolis! A man of many talents, he is the Director, Director of Photography and Editor of "Freshwater" and the founder of 515 Productions.

What project are you currently working on? What is your role in the project?

The 515 Productions team is currently working on the feature-length version of our documentary film, Freshwater, which tells a story about Lake Superior through the eyes of surfers, scientists, business owners and tourism experts. (A 20-minute version was an Official Selection at the Catalyst content festival in 2021.) We’ll be hosting a premiere event in Duluth on February 19th at the NorShor Theater. All information can be found here. All proceeds will benefit the Large Lakes Observatory at UMD. I’m the director, director of photography and editor.

Do you have a favorite hat under the “creator” umbrella?

I enjoy shooting and directing most of all. That’s where you get to capture the story. That’s where it all unfolds in front of you. There’s something fun about the chaos of production and overcoming the challenges that arise along the way.

What were your earliest inspirations? How did you get started as a creator?

Ski movies as a kid. I grew up in Alaska, skiing and biking, and I loved watching the ski and bike movies that were shot in Alaska by the big production companies from all over the world. I wanted to learn how to shoot 16 mm film, so I could join those guys and go off, travel the world, and shoot skiing and biking.

Along the way, I got a job in TV news as a photographer, and that taught me about storytelling. Then I went to film school, where I learned how to combine it all together. 20 years later, and 15 years after I started my own video production business, I’m still inspired by the outdoors and action sports.

Whose work do you admire? Who are your dream collaborators?

Watching documentaries as a kid and young adult, I was drawn to Bruce and Dana Brown films, specifically Step Into Liquid and Dust to Glory. Those were fun documentaries to watch because they combined action sports and good storytelling. I consider Bruce Brown to be the original creator of action sports films and greatly admire the intuition and innovation he introduced to the industry. I’ve also always loved Guy Ritchie movies.

I was very fortunate to work with my dream collaborator, Dana Brown, on a movie called On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter, which was a re-make of his dad’s documentary. I spent about two years shooting that with him, and that was a dream. Loved every second of it. It taught me a lot.

If you had to give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?

20 years ago, you couldn’t tell a kid to just take their camera out and go shoot something, because cameras weren’t as accessible as they are now. Back then, it was -- read all you can, study all you can about the “rules” of film production and then figure out how to break those rules.

Now, the advice I give to young people interested in this industry is – don’t worry about the quality of the gear you’re using. Don’t worry about how cool something this. Just get out there and shoot something. In fact, my 12-year-old son has shown a growing interest in shooting and editing. That’s what I tell him. It’s easy now to get out and learn by experimenting with all different types of gear.

What’s your must-read/must-watch book/show or movie?

Ted Lasso. I just love it. I felt like it’s a great departure from a lot of what’s out there right now, which is doomsday videos, murder mysteries or depressing documentaries. Then Ted Lasso comes along and teaches us to all love each other again. It felt good.

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