Breckenridge film company creates movies with a message
Paul Steinweg and Justin Haight believe in the power of film. After years of making amateur movies, the Breckenridge residents recently took the next logical step professional-quality filmmaking. They arent making videos merely for entertainment value, however. Steinweg and Haight are using film to influence the county in a positive way. The duo, friends since they were 14 years old, have created a campaign summed up in three humorous words: Love Thy Gaper.Defined by Websters as one who gapes, gaper is common mountain slang for awestruck tourists.Its a response to those Go Home Gaper bumper stickers. We made stickers with the same font that says Love Thy Gaper … and, of course, the rap video, said Steinweg.Weve always had a knack for rap, Steinweg said, with a laugh.Yeah, were closet rappers, added Haight.The video centerpiece of the campaign is a parody of how ill-informed Summit County residents mistreat tourists. Steinweg and Haight, who moved to Summit County six years ago with eight friends (only they remain), wrote the lyrics in a day, filmed it after work and edited it in a night. With a thumping baseline courtesy of Haight, the video puts a humorous spin on the gaper dilemma by showing people how not to treat tourists.The bumper stickers, they say, are a constant reminder to accept tourists flaws. Going 15 mph behind an out-of-town SUV down Highway 9 can be infuriating, they admit, but having that sticker keeps you in check.
Using video to teach a message is nothing new for Steinweg and Haight. They are both active leaders in the middle schools Summit County Youth program, which Steinweg and his wife run. Summit County Youth, an organization thats been around for 30 years, provides safe after-school diversions for all participants. Steinweg, office manager for Pinnacle Mountain Homes, and Haight, a special needs teacher at Summit Middle School, use videos to introduce and bring awareness to sensitive, somewhat esoteric topics, such as seeing yourself as part of a larger picture and making good use of free time. They call them Food 4 Thought videos.One video, Lemonade, brings attention to the fact that not all Summit County residents are wealthy. Many people work multiple jobs just to make ends meet, as depicted by the central character of the video who operates a lemonade stand on the weekends. The video is set to the melancholic Such Great Heights, by Iron & Wine. Steinweg and Haight used the video to show what a good life most of their Summit County Youth members have.Steinweg and Haight have had great success using these videos to capture their young audiences attention.If youre teaching middle schoolers, you need something to pull them in, said Haight, who is a special needs teacher at Summit Middle School.They play the Food 4 Thought movies at Summit County Youth gatherings and cite some of their biggest fans as kids.They all subscribe to our e-mail list and have seen all our videos on YouTube, said Haight.
The funding for Steinweg and Haights high-quality Food 4 Thought videos came from their unique approach to making wedding videos.At weddings, were not videographers, but cinematographers. Instead of a two-hour video, you get a 15-minute reel set to a soundtrack, Steinweg said. There arent many people doing it up here. It took off.They describe the wedding videos as heavily edited highlight reels. The endeavors success allowed for them to pay off the purchase of high-definition video cameras and computer editing software. The film company Breckreation was incorporated in August, 2007, officially turning them from hobbyists to professional filmmakers.
Steinweg and Haight hope to do less weddings next summer in order to concentrate on the creative endeavors. They said they will make more Food 4 Thought videos and continue to press acceptance of gaperism throughout the county.They also see opportunities for movies all around them.We want to make videos about those everyday people and things you see in Summit County that we dont appreciate on a daily basis, said Steinweg.Theyre toying with the idea of delving into the ski-film world.Wed like to get into ski videos, but do it differently make them funny, said Steinweg.The typical ski video is overdone. If we do it, itll be something new and more interesting, said Haight.For now, while juggling full-time jobs and their youth advocacy commitments, Steinweg and Haight are keeping a realistic outlook for Breckreation. Im just waiting for Pauls wife to discover Breckreation is a way for us to hang out more, said Haight with a laugh.Love Thy Gaper is the pairs broadest campaign to date. They hope their message resonates with residents of all ages in order to diffuse the antagonism sometimes exhibited between full-time Summit County residents and wide-eyed visitors.We all have our gaper jokes, but theres a point where it goes too far, said Steinweg. … Like when you see a Go Home Gaper bumper sticker on a car with Minnesota plates, said Haight. The reality is we wouldnt be here if it wasnt for gapers.Rory Moulton can be reached at 970-668-4623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.