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Q&A With a Cool Coloradan: Matt Hobbs of Vital Films

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As the co-founder of Vital Films in Aspen, Matt Hobbs shoots adventure video near and far for worldwide brands. We have been lucky enough to have him shoot a few videos for us, including subjects such as ballooning, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, hot springs, fly-fishing, ziplining and aerial parks and more. We asked him what's so special about doing what he does right here in Colorado.

Why do you do what you do in Colorado?

I had the privilege of growing up in Colorado, always outside exploring my backyard in Aspen. When I got to high school, I fell in love with filmmaking since it was right at the time digital cameras and YouTube started. So it was easy to experiment and make fun content. I started out filming my friends skiing and putting videos online. Since then I have continued to grow my passion into a full-time production company. I have had the amazing opportunity to work with very large brands on many different projects across the state! I could have easily moved to LA for the Hollywood routine, but I just could never leave Colorado. Colorado is such a beautiful state with the most amazing backdrop for filmmaking.

What’s your favorite part of the day or year to shoot in Colorado?

The seasons in Colorado are very special. Everything is always changing and bringing new energy throughout the year. I am most in love with the changing of seasons. For me the most magical time of the year is autumn. Being surrounded by stunning colors mixed with all parts of the year. It could be warm or snow-covered, so it's a very special time of the year.

What are some examples where your outdoor skills have helped make your videos better?

Growing up in the backcountry really gives you an advantage. With outdoor skills and knowledge it really helps me to be able to work in remote environments and be able to push myself to get the best shots. Just being able to ski and film at the same time gives me a skill set that not a lot of other filmmakers have. So being able to integrate outdoor skills with filmmaking skills offers a speciality to produce content that not everyone has.

Do you have a favorite part of the state to shoot in?

My favorite part of the state to film is my backyard of Aspen and the Elk Mountains. It's just such a stunning landscape and I am always finding new surprises and views. It's different any part of the year and equally amazing.

Any tips or tools you’d recommend for amateurs who are attempting to shoot video while they ski or raft or climb or do other adventurous activities?  

Filming any outdoor activities is a challenge vs. filming in controlled environments. I found that it's key to be a minimalist and not get caught up in equipment and technology. For me, it's more important to be able to move around quickly to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time to capture the moment.

For the gear heads, what equipment do you use?

I use the Sony F55 as my main camera. It is always with me and I take it everywhere I go. I also have support gear like drones, Movi stabilizer, sliders and more. More times than not, I just take my camera and tripod out and keep it simple.

How has the drone changed how you approach shooting in Colorado?

The drone has been a game changer for shooting aerials. I started shooting aerials before the drone in helicopters and it's a very expensive process. So to be able to have an option to shoot with a drone and save a lot of money is great. The drone is a great way to get simple aerials. But since the mountains are so large in Colorado, the best way to truly see and capture the state is still from a helicopter at 14,000 feet.

Have you had a “This is the most Colorado thing I’ve ever seen/done” moment while shooting? What was it?

I have many of these moments, that’s what makes Colorado so unique. I would say one of them was shooting for Colorado.com and we were on the Silver Thread Byway. We turned a corner and all of a sudden a thousand or more sheep were walking down the road. I just had to stop the car and watch as the endless line of sheep made their way around my car and down the road. I love those moments where you feel like you are in the Wild West. This was a true Colorado traffic jam!

You work for a lot of different clients with different goals, but is there a specific message or impression you hope always comes through about Colorado when you shoot here?

I have worked with so many different clients, from National Geographic to L’Oreal Paris. When I am working in Colorado the goals are always the same: Feature the beauty. Even though the clients are very different, they all come here for the same reason and that is the beauty. So we always are focusing on strong visuals and the beauty of the location.

Is there anything in the state that you’re dying to shoot but haven’t had the chance to yet?

I would love to shoot more in the San Juans. I have been to the towns a lot, but never explored the backcountry. It really seems like a special place. That is what makes Colorado so unique — all the mountain ranges are different, and the Elk Mountains are very different from the San Juans.

You help us sell Colorado as a tourism destination. What activities/locations do you recommend to folks visiting the state?

Aside from the common activities like skiing, hiking and driving, I really would recommend a more traditional experience. Horseback riding or dog sledding is a very unique experience. Hot-air balloon or helicopter rides are a great way to get a new perspective that not a lot of people experience. I really just recommend going to small mountain towns and experiencing the simpler side of life.

What’s the wildest thing that’s happened to you while shooting here?

Recently I was filming bears in Aspen for the BBC. That was a very wild experience. I grew up seeing bears all the time but I have never experienced them close up in person. A few times I would be set up shooting a bear and all of a sudden it would start walking toward me. One time this bear did not see me and literally walked right by me only 3 feet away. I don’t recommend at all anyone get close to wildlife, especially bears. But it's very magical to have that experience. Moose will often surprise you, too.

Why are you headquartered in Aspen?

I have never left Aspen because it's such a great location to run a business and be happy. First is it's a small ski town and very beautiful. But it also it's a well-known place with a lot of business opportunity. To be able to mix the business and pleasure is very unique and something I do not take for granted.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I am fortunate to always be outside in such beautiful locations, even while working. But when I put the camera down I get to have a little more fun. In the winter I typically am deep in the backcountry snowmobiling and skiing. In the summer I love to fly-fish on the rivers or go off-roading. I love Colorado because you can go to such beautiful locations and have it all to yourself.