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Dan Goldberg’s Film for the Paws Up Resort Celebrates Craft By Slowing Down and Going Back to Basics

In the world of creative collaboration, long-standing relationships ensure smooth productions and captivating final cuts. For Photographer and Director Dan Goldberg, his bond with the esteemed Paws Up Resort spans two decades, a testament to their trust, respect, and true collaboration. Together, they embarked on a remarkable year-long project, dedicated to celebrating craft while capturing the essence of the resort in all four seasons.

The idea of celebrating craft goes beyond the stunning visuals of the film and celebrates the intentionality of the resort. To do this, Dan and his crew took their time, a luxury not available to all productions. Returning to Montana in each season, using a tripod, and setting up each frame like a still shot are a few of the ways they beautifully unwrapped this immersive video.

In our conversation with Dan Goldberg, we delve into the distinctive qualities of his collaboration with Paws Up Resort. From favorite scenes and memorable moments to the challenges faced and the dynamic crew that brought this vision to life, we understand the dedication and passion that form the foundation of their work.

You have a longstanding relationship with the Paws Up resort, what is special about this relationship?
I have worked with them for 20 years and we have an amazing relationship. They bring me in early in the creative process and it’s true collaboration. We have a level of trust and respect that takes time to build. I know what they need and they know what I need to deliver the level of production they are looking for. 

Discuss the crew dynamic from this shoot?
We have a super tight crew and we are all it in to get the best work.  Sometimes we shoot back-to-back 18-hour days and nobody complains.  I couldn’t do any of this without the perfect crew.  My producer Andrew and I work very hard at putting together the perfect crew.  Not only the most talented but also the right temperament and personality.  Everyone brings their unique skills, but we also jump in and help each other. These are the guys you want in your foxhole.

How important was it to capture all four seasons of the resort?
That was the most important part of this film, creatively speaking. We agreed that we wanted to take our time with this, in order to showcase all seasons that the resort sees because each season at Paws Up is beautiful and visitors come all throughout the year. It was a nice change from a commercial shoot, where you are trying to shoot much as possible in the shortest time. We took our time, using a tripod and setting up each frame like a still shot. I think this helped the final cut be one that celebrates my craft as a director as well as the beauty of the resort. 

Which scene was your favorite to shoot and why?  
The opening scene we shot with a drone and it’s pretty spectacular. We shot it at lookout rock which was a part of Lewis & Clark’s expedition route through Montana in 1805. I also loved the scene with our Ansel Adams look-alike shooting an 8x10 camera in a complete whiteout.  At one point we could hardly see ten feet in front of us.  

How long did it take to capture all of the footage? 
We shot this in 4 different seasons over the course of a year.  It looked very different every time we were there. The days are very long in the summer and very short in the winter.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that winter was my favorite season.

What was a memorable moment from this shoot?
There were so many great memorable moments, but shooting 16mm film was definitely one of them.  I hadn’t shot film in a long time and it was absolutely the right tool for this project.  It made us slow down, gave us the look we wanted and helped the film feel more timeless.  There are a lot more unknowns with film, but my DP Simon Reinert felt strongly that those unknowns would also make it magical.  He was right and I’m looking forward to shooting film again on future projects. 

This is not a food-centric video, what do you like about shooting things other than food? And what do you find challenging about it?
It pushes me out of my comfort zone and helps keep my work fresh.  I’m constantly learning and growing as an artist.  It’s exciting and pushes my work in the studio.  I have a lot less control when I’m on location and that adds a lot of challenges, but I have learned to embrace those challenges and that’s when serendipity and the magic happen. I no longer worry about the weather and let it work to my advantage. Extreme weather usually makes for epic shots. Chasing wildlife can also be very time-consuming and frustrating. The minute I let go & relax a herd of elk appeared.  

What do you want people to take away from your work after seeing this?
My crew and I are super passionate about the work we do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-day studio shoot or a year-long location shoot. Growing, learning and giving a damn is what makes the work great!