Lens Crafters: Cinematographer Pat Fenelon

Pat Fenelon Lens Crafters
Pat Fenelon isn't always behind the camera. p: Brogen Reed

Lens Crafters

The man behind the camera, Pat Fenelon. p: Corigan Kushma

If you're on this website right now, then I am 99.% certain that you are familiar with Pat Fenelon's work. As one of the premier auteurs in snowboard cinema, Pat is the brains behind many of the web edits and snowboard films that are out there on laptop monitors and television screens every year. And you may have heard of him, but not heard from him, and that's because Pat is a behind-the-scenes guy in every sense of the word. He lets his filming do the talking for him and the product is always beautiful, inspiring and captivating. Pat's a rather quiet guy. Very smart. And he's got a brilliant eye for filming not just snowboarding but anything he chooses to focus on. It's those qualities that have won him numerous X Games gold medals in Real Snow and garnered him worldwide acclaim in snowboarding for his I Ride Park City edits back in the day, made him one of the most coveted filmers of his generation and catalyzed riders from all over the globe to want to work with him. Be it Ken Block roosting a rally car or Bode Merrill one-footing his way to snowboard infamy, Pat's filmed it, and chances are, you've watched it. This is Lens Crafters with Pat Fenelon. (Feauture image by Brogen Reed)
—T. Bird

First off, where are you from and where do you currently live?
I'm from Westerly, Rhode Island. I'm living back here for a few months right now but I call Salt Lake City home for the better part of the year.

How did you get into snowboard filmmaking?
Hmmmm. Well, my mom always made sure I had a camera growing up. I think filming for me may have started with shooting boogie boarding and surfing with friends on the beach, then skateboarding as I got a little older. Through high school and then college in Vermont I got really into snowboarding. Everything kind of snowballed (LOL) from there. Working summers at Mt. Hood and then moving to Salt Lake, snowboarding became my life and it just seemed like the natural path.

Who or what were some of your early influences in filmmaking?
I burned out the Decade VHS. Mack Dawg movies were really influential to me in high school. All the Iron Curtain movies, Spike Jonze, Ty Evans, 411s, Robot Food…anything that gave you a feeling in your gut, showed personality, looked good, and inspired you to go out and do it. I've always gravitated toward stuff that was able to mix the raw stuff and the polished high production at the same time.

What projects that you've filmed are you most proud of?
Everything I've done is bad, haha. At least that's how I always feel. I think each project is an opportunity to learn something and improve. Maybe I'll be proud of the next one?
I guess if I had to pick it would be that I managed to keep the I Ride Park City edits going for six seasons all while working on other projects as well. While I don't love the whole video contest idea, I was happy with how the X Games Real Snow videos I made with Bode Merrill and Chris Grenier came out and it was awesome that they did well. Those dudes are the best to work with.

Can you list the projects you've made or been a part of over the years?
When I first moved to Utah I got involved and helped out on a few of the Team Thunder movies. From there, I did a season of videos for The Canyons, six seasons of IRPC with a movie in there somewhere. I had a video series I did weekly with Yobeat that I did for years, worked with Camp 4 Collective on some more commercial mountaineering and climbing stuff, the Merrill Time series in 2013, contributed a couple seasons with Absinthe films, Nike, VG, Ken Block's Blast, The Crab Grab Grab Guide. I've been working on a documentary series with New Era. I've also gotten to work on a few commercial spots for brands like Lifeproof, The North Face, and BF Goodrich. I shot with Scott Stevens for a while for his Union Stronger part, too. I kind of lose track of everything but I've always tried to stay busy. Recently, I've had the opportunity to mix it up more and I've been shooting surfing, cars, mountain biking, motorcycles, and whatever else I can. I always find it fun trying to do things differently and keep learning and improving. If you're interested in seeing more I've got a website patfenelonfilms.com that I should probably get around to updating soon.

Where do you see the future of snowboard movies and filmmaking going?
I might be biased but I think the Yawgoons is the best thing in snowboarding today. I really hope snowboarding is able to grow and change. I see things in snowboarding lately as a little too formulaic and safe. When you look at films and especially action sports stuff I see every other group (surf, bike, skate, etc.) taking risks and being more creative. I see that paying off for those activities and reaching broader audiences around the world. I want to see snowboarding films get out of their comfort zone more often and show us all something we haven't seen before. I think in order to do that it takes the riders, brands, and filmmakers to be on board. Its also gets harder with Instagram and everyone's short attention span these days but I think if the right people come together and make creative stuff it will pay off for snowboarding in the long run.

Pat Fenelon and Chris Grenier filming at the Freedom Frontier. p: Bird

Who are some of your favorite riders to work with and why?
Bode, Chris, Scott, Bers, Ozzy, Big Frank, Ben Ferguson, Tim Eddy, Stax, Harrison, Griff, Rav, Zak, Sage, Caleb Flowers, Jed, Lou. The list could go on forever. Anyone that makes it look good and isn't a stress case. For most of the dudes on this list I think what makes me want to film them is that they could all shoot on a two-foot pile of snow all day and come out with something amazing, but you could point them all at a hundred-foot pow kicker or handrail, and something amazing would happen too. Also, they can all turn really well.

Who are some riders you've never gotten a chance to work with but would like to?
Oh man there are all sorts of legends out there it would be cool to shoot with. I think one of my favorite things about filming snowboarding is finding the best way to capture each rider's individual style. If we haven't shot together and you think we should HMU!

Anyone you'd like to thank?
Of course, first off, you Birdman. Secondly, the snowboard community for being one big weird happy family, Bode Merrill, Evan LeFebvre, Chris Grenier, Tonino, Preston and Dawn Strout, Hondo, Reid Casner, Jim Mangan, Rob Mathis, Jeremy Cooper, Bridges, Nick Hamilton, Runke, Blatt, Java, WIZ, Alex Andrews, Jared Winkler, Al Pal, Brooke Geery, Sean McCormick, Joe C, anyone that helped on either side of the lens to make something awesome. Snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing for being so addictive and bringing good people together.
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