Framed: Rupert Walker

Framed: Rupert Walker

photos: tyler ravelle, mAXIME RAMBAUD & berkley vop

Framed is an interview series to learn more about filmmakers and photographers, what they do, and how they think.

Rupert Walker. 36. Filmmaker & Director. Victoria, BC.

How did you end up filming?

Growing up, I was really into MTB and skiing. Most of my friends were, too, and we would always film each other for fun. I was really good at both sports but not good enough to get sponsored. My friends, however, were good enough to get sponsored, so I started making videos of my friends for their new sponsors.

I started out doing my first video in exchange for bike parts, then in 2012, Chromag hired me to do a video of Reece Wallace and Mark Matthews for $500.00. This was my first paid job, and I was so grateful!

How did you learn the craft? Did you go to film school?

I was fully self-taught. I didn’t have a filmmaking mentor or anything like that. I learned from my mistakes, and YouTube was the best resource for me to learn the technical side of filmmaking. I was inspired by my athlete friends and other friends who were on the same film-making grind I was on.

I almost went to film school straight out of high school but decided to get a Bachelor of Business instead. I think this was the right choice for me because I wasn’t interested in a teacher telling me how to create my videos, but I had no clue about how to run a business or understand basic economics. What I learned at school I was able to directly apply to the business side of my freelance film making.

© Tyler Ravelle
© Tyler Ravelle

What was your first camera, and what’s your setup now? Is there any camera that you would like to own and shoot with?

My first camera was a Canon T2i. But my main camera after that was a Canon 5d Mk II. I didn’t have very much money when I was in college. Any extra money I had, I invested into Apple stock and was able to profit enough to buy my 5D.

Currently, I have a Canon c300 MK 3 and a Red Dragon. I’ve always loved the Canon Cinema line, but it isn’t a camera system that’s in high demand for commercial shoots. Owning a Red put me in many opportunities commercially, even though I preferred shooting Canon for my personal work.

I really like the Arri’s. Alexa LF or Mini. They are expensive rigs, though! I can rent these if I need them.

What’s your pre-production creative process like? How do you approach a new shoot or project?

My pre-production process revolves around getting inspired and brainstorming ideas. I love finding new videos and music to get me stoked. It depends on the project, though. Some projects require proper storyboarding, while most of my action MTB projects don’t.

I try to approach a new shoot with an optimistic, patient, and open mind, preparing to be flexible and adapt to any challenges we encounter.

© Maxime Rambaud
© Maxime Rambaud

What program do you edit with?

I’ve always used Final Cut as my main editing program. I love how simple the interface is, and it’s designed to run very efficiently with Apple computers. Sometimes, I will use Adobe Premiere if I’m collaborating with other filmmakers or if a client specifically wants to use Premiere. Both programs do the same thing. I know some creators think Premiere is superior to FCPX, but they are just drinking the Kool-Aid!

Do you find yourself going back and forth in the editing process, or you’re certain about the end result that you want?

Yes, for every video! I’ll get the edits structure built out but it takes some time and experimenting to lock in the final version. I love playing around with the edit and trying different ideas. Once I get close to the final version, I’ll just watch the video on repeat and find any little thing I can adjust. Whether it’s adjusting color, audio, or cut points, etc…

How many exports do you usually do until the final version of a video is decided, either by yourself or a client?

If it’s a personal project, I will only do a few exports. The first one or two is for showing the people involved and getting their approval. However, if it’s for a bigger client like Red Bull, for example, I’ve done 20-plus different versions to figure out the direction and deliver what the client wants. A lot of times, the client doesn’t know what they want! So, it can be a tedious process getting ideas locked in.

© Berkley Vop

Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been doing one project a year for Commençal. I love doing these because they give me full creative control over the project, and it feels more like a personal project than a ‘client job’. I’m really proud of the content I’ve made for them.

I also really enjoy doing bigger-budget commercial jobs. I love when my company runs the whole production but I also love jumping into other companies’ productions to support as a camera guy or an editor.

Are there any new projects you’re currently working on?

Yes, at the moment, I’m planning a car commercial shoot for mid-Feb. Clay Porter is the DP on it, and the rest of the crew is all homies. I can’t say specifically what or who the job is for, but it’s exciting for us!

I have lots of rider content to put out right now, but I’m on the release schedule of the clients. I need to be patient, but I’m excited for all of this content to start rolling out soon.

How do you spend your time when you don’t have any projects or shoots to work on?

I just had my first kid in October of 2023, so I’ve been in full-on dad mode lately, which has been a lot of fun so far.

When I’m in between jobs I really need my free time. Breaks are key for me to stay focused on my career. I like to play golf and ride my BMX in my spare time. I’ve been trying to sleep more and stay active, and I’ve actually started going for runs.

Since I’ve had a kid, these activities have been hard to do consistently.

© Berkley Vop

How would you describe the freelancing lifestyle? Would you consider creating a production company?

It’s a flexible life, and I love that. My freedom is earned! And no, I love the flexibility of my current setup. I don’t have to answer to anyone on a daily basis or worry about monthly payroll. 

If I get a bigger job I’m able to mobilize a full crew in a matter of days through all of the great friends and contacts I have. We work on the job together and then once we wrap, we all go our own ways. With no outstanding commitments to each other. 

I’m really lucky to have some amazing people in my life to collaborate and connect with. Clay Porter has become one of my best friends and biggest inspirations. We could easily start a production company together if we wanted to since we literally work on everything together.

In the past, I had a tough experience trying to partner with someone to create a brand and production company. Not only did the friction of that situation essentially fracture the friendship with my partner but it also froze the brand. Everything we had worked so hard to create was basically put on hold, and still is.

I mention this because I can’t imagine a world where Clay and I aren’t best friends creating content together. Any way I can avoid unnecessary stress and friction with people I care most about is way more important to me than trying to create a production company. 

Maybe in the future, my outlook will change, but for now, I’m content with how I conduct my business.

© Tyler Ravelle
© Rupert Walker
© Rupert Walker

Where do you think you’d be if you didn’t pick up videography?

Honestly, I have no idea.

What are your plans for the near future?

To keep progressing in life!

Any shoutouts?

I have to shout out all the amazing athletes who trusted me last year with new projects. I feel so grateful to work with all of you. Finn Iles, Hugo Frix, Brett Rheeder, Jackson Goldstone, Tommy G, Brendan Howey, Carson Storch… if there’s anyone else I missed – you know who you are!