Committed To Grassroots


In January I was hired by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance to produce a video piece for their retail members. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is a group of over 70 independent outdoor retailers around the US. Membership in Grassroots gives retailers a strong national voice to “protect and promote the experience of outdoor enthusiasts across the United States.” Grassroots also provides resources to its member retailers to support their local activities such as recreational access and environmental initiatives.

The shoot was coordinated by Widgets & Stone, a Chattanooga, TN design studio that handles brand communications for Grassroots. We worked with Chattanooga-local GOA member Rock/Creek Outfitters as an example retailer and backdrop for the video. Grassroots wanted the video for the Outdoor Retailer Show, which was only a few days away once we finalized the project. The stakes were made higher by the fact that this video would be shown to all the top independent retailers in the country – Rock/Creek’s main peer group.

It’s a situation that happens all the time in this business. Things come together at the last minute and once you get the green light you might have half the time you initially planned for. You don’t want to cut corners but maybe it just can’t get done in time. What do you do? It’s a lot like climbing. You plan carefully for a long climb, wait for good conditions, but maybe by then the window is too short. Do you go for it and pass that line of commitment? Or do you back off, hoping the opportunity will still be there later?

Luckily, having worked closely with Rock/Creek a lot in the past, we had a good game plan going in, and they trusted I could do great work under time pressure. We shot all the footage in an afternoon and the edit came together within 48 hours, just in time for the show. As Rock/Creek owner Dawson Wheeler said later, “Putting a video like this out in front of all the best independent shop owners in the industry made me nervous initially, but Andrew came through with a fantastic video that served the group’s needs and went over very well with my peers.”

We also produced a separate video that explains what the relationship between Grassroots and a retailer like Rock/Creek is fundamentally about: local ownership and activism, unique customer relationships, and a national platform to promote these ideals.


Grassroots Outdoor Alliance from Rock/Creek on Vimeo.

Some behind-the-scenes shots:

Below: Shooting Rock/Creek Marketing Director Mark McKnight with the Panasonic HMC40 on a Redrock Micro 35mm adapter. We combined daylight and a single Westcott Spiderlite fluorescent bank rear and left of Mark. (Rachel Tucker)



Below: We shot the landscape footage at Lula Lake Land Trust, a 4000-acre preserve established around the Rock Creek watershed in the mountains above Chattanooga. This was my first time at Lula, and it is absolutely spectacular. A great reminder of why I live in this part of the country! (Rachel Tucker)



Below: Hero Shot (Mark McKnight)



You can see more BTS stuff at Rock/Creek’s Flickr page

I love working with organizations like Grassroots and Rock/Creek because I can get behind their brand message 100%. That is rare, especially in the commercial world. I believe creatives should be actively pursuing those kinds of clients for themselves, rather than just waiting for clients to come to them to help sell a message. In this case, everyone shared the same passions and ideals, and I think it and added to the quality of the final product. What’s more, it made shooting it a lot of fun!

Photographers, videographers, writers : I’d love to hear your examples of working for clients whose basic principles you also share!


Thanks Andrew! Great working with you on this shoot. It was a bit nerve-wracking to work on that schedule but it turned out brilliantly. Lula Lake is such a great place too, it was amazing to see it frozen like that.

posted by Mark McKnight on 02.25.10 at 12:21 pm

Thank you Andrew. And thank you Rock Creek for supporting conservation, trail development and access to climbing for Chattanoogans and all Americans. And especially, thank you VERY MUCH for supporting Tennessee Wild. You Rock!

posted by Jeff Hunter on 02.25.10 at 7:14 pm

Really beautiful job. Makes me want to shop there!

posted by Dan Newton on 02.27.10 at 12:08 am

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