By Carrie Click
ASPEN – It is one of the most coveted jobs in the worlds of action sports, live music and festivals. College students don’t just become professional camera operators at a major event such as X Games Aspen.
Or maybe they do.
During this year’s games at Buttermilk Mountain, Ben Hunter, 24, won’t just be standing on the sidelines watching slopestyle competitions and attending concerts. Earlier this month, ESPN hired the Colorado Mountain College student to operate a camera during the four-day international event.
Hunter, who’s originally from Fort Collins, is no stranger to still and video photography. He is currently enrolled in the professional photography program at the Isaacson School for Communication, Arts and Media at CMC. He was also part of a group of student filmmakers who produced “Big Air Max,” an inspirational short documentary about Max Grange, a Snowmass quadriplegic. The documentary premiered to great acclaim at Carbondale’s 5Point Film Festival in 2017.
Last year, Hunter applied for an internship at X Games Aspen through one of his former Isaacson School video instructors who’s worked in the giant X Games production truck for several years. Hunter got the internship, and impressed the X Games crew so much that this year they offered him a camera operator position.
For the 2019 games, Hunter’s role is capturing the spectators at the event, being part of the crew interviewing attendees and producing video that will appear on big screens on site. He expects to work 10-hour days. “You have to be very still,” he says. “Basically, you’re a human tripod, though not in a bad way. You’re focusing and framing, streaming live, and it’s all sent to the production truck. It’s all very technical.”
Fortunately, Hunter is naturally comfortable with the mechanized aspects of video production. “I’m a tech guy,” he says.
He knows that it is not every day a college student gets a big opportunity like running a professional camera at X Games. Still, he is open about what is in his future. For now, he is planning to finish his photography degree in the next two semesters.