'One-man-band' filmmaker promotes Trail region, stunning videos
'I feel quite proud ... to promote this place that...created who I am,' says young Trail artist
The stunning scenery of B.C.'s West Kootenay region are showcased in a series of breathtaking videos produced by an unlikely source — a 20-year-old who produced his first video for a Grade 10 high school announcement.
He comes home every summer... I think it's predominantly because he likes his mom's cooking.- Tourism Rossland Executive Director Deanne Steven
Eric Gonzalez grew up in the area and returns home during summers when he creates eye-catching tourism videos of lesser-known B.C. gems, such as Trail and Rossland.
With his earnings Gonzalez, who is halfway through a marketing degree at the University of Calgary, is able to help pay his way through school.
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"It's enough for me not to have another job during the summer," said Gonzalez.
"I think in the first couple years, I was just doing it because, 'Aw man, they're going to pay me a little bit of money to film, and what not,' right?"
Tourism Rossland Executive Director Deanne Steven first noticed Gonzalez's work online three years ago and approached him to make some videos for her organization.
"He's definitely amazing and we don't pay him what he's worth; we're really lucky to have him," she said.
"He's born and bred in the Lower Columbia Greater Trail area and he comes home every summer," said Steven. "I think it's predominantly because he likes his mom's cooking, so we're lucky enough to be able to hire him."
High school film start
Gonzalez started fooling around with video production about five years ago at J. Lloyd Crowe Secondary School. After a teacher got him interested, he turned his eye to the school announcements.
"Before, there were just Power Point slides and they'd show them in front of the class and I was like, 'Yeah, there's a better way,' and it was fun for me to do it," he said.
"We would go to the secretary and say, 'What are the upcoming events?' And then I'd go out and interview the teachers, or I'd have the students say, 'Oh we have school lunches next week,'" said Gonzalez, who posted the announcements on Youtube.
Gonzalez then started going out into the community and working on various personal video projects. He was hired to make a couple of little videos for the City of Trail, and that's when Steven noticed his work.
"A lot of it has been self-taught," said Gonzalez. "Autodidactic, I think is the word."
"All of my gear, with the exception of, like, one or two family gifts that I've gotten, have been self-paid by myself, due to the money that has come from these contracts."
'A one man band'
The quality of the videos keeps improving, according to Gonzalez. Steven sources a combination of grants to pay for his work. This year the money is coming from Canada Summer Jobs, a Columbia Basin Trust grant, and a Destination B.C. co-op marketing program.
"My job is to find the money and come up with crazy ideas and then Eric actions them and makes them beautiful, so we work really well together," said Steven.
For the most part, the videos Gonzalez creates for Tourism Rossland each focus on a specific activity that may draw tourists, like mountain biking, golfing, or trail running. They're stuffed with sweeping drone shots, incredible slow motion, and graceful camera moves.
"When I'm shooting, it's just myself — a one man band," he said. "Sometimes I'll ask my brother to help carry some gear, but quite often it's just myself."
Along with his tourism videos, Gonzalez has also started getting work making videos fro the University of Calgary during the school year.
And he has a busy summer planned, with 10 tourism videos already scheduled for Trail and Rossland.
"I feel quite proud that I've been given this opportunity to promote this place that, you know, has created what I am today, and just to show that to other people," Gonzalez said.
"It's a privilege, I go out to Calgary, and what not, and part of me just makes the videos to show my friends where I live."