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The Art of Cutting Your Teeth at Country Thunder

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The Art of Cutting Your Teeth at Country Thunder

Country Thunder music festival has been one of the most instrumental (no pun intended) and consequential opportunities in our company’s history, forcing us to sink or swim.

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Any Country Thunder music festival we’ve attended has a very distinct feel. Whether they happened five days or five years ago, each one feels like a blur, punctuated with some very distinct and lucid memories. It’s a festival you have to see and smell and soak into your pores to really understand.


Even though we’re working while everyone else is dancing, sweating, and swigging, we still have countless lasting memories. One such moment was sitting on the tour bus steps with country music star Jake Owen after we finished shooting an ‘up close and personal’ video with him, talking to him about his music and experience on Country Thunder. What we found was that Owen, despite the gravity of his stardom, was equally as interested in talking with us about cameras and photography as we were in talking to him about music. In those moments backstage, he was just a normal guy, connecting with us over a mutual love of DSLRs and lenses.


It’s those kinds of moments that remind us what Country Thunder has given to us both personally and professionally.

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For the uninitiated, Country Thunder is North American country music festival that hosts some of the biggest names in the country music world. The festival has operated in Craven, Saskatchewan since 2005, (known as the Craven Country Jamboree until 2016), and in Wisconsin and Arizona since 1996. Barbershop has been working with Country Thunder on their live and marketing videos since its inaugural year in Craven.


“Country Thunder has been so important to us because we were able to grow with them,” said Jeremy Drummond, CEO of Barbershop Films.


“Because of the festival, we were able to travel around North America, and work with the biggest names in country music. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to see that side of the world, or show-business. It inspired us to really swing for the fences as a company. And it showed us that we belong.”


We learned immediately that there was no faking it at Country Thunder. Each day, we had to produce five or six high-quality videos – from shooting to editing to delivering within only a couple hours per video. Before instant video content on social media had really taken off, we were doing it with Country Thunder; sharing daily videos both on the jumbo-tron at the festival and their social media profiles, which also helped grow their presence on Instragam (currently 63k+ followers).


“It forced us to be extremely organized, efficient, and skilled at what we do when it comes to shooting, editing, colouring, music choice, sound design, everything. We were providing quality at high speeds that was very rare for us in those days, but forced us to find ways to do it,” said Alex Stevens, Senior Producer at Barbershop Films.

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And we weren’t just shooting in our Saskatchewan backyard. Country Thunder took us to stops in Calgary, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, and Tennessee, and has granted us the opportunity to shoot with talent like Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Gord Bentley, Blake Shelton, Big and Rich, and the Dixie Chicks, to name just a few. We weren’t the boys from Somewhere, Saskatchewan anymore. We were the video crew working with the biggest names on one of the biggest stages in country music.


“It meant that in the scope of one festival you’re shooting event videos, a concert, corporate, DJ show, and party videos. It allowed us to acquire a huge range of skills,” said Stevens.


Since being thrown into the deep end with Country Thunder, we’ve only continued to swim deeper throughout the years. In addition to the live content at every festival, we’ve also created scripted and storyboarded content for Country Thunder’s marketing campaigns. And we’ve learned that those behind the festival (Kim, Troy, Samara, and Ted, we’re looking at you) are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet.


“They are an integral part of the festival, and really fit into our dynamic,” said Ted Gross, Country Thunder Director of Operations.


“This job is very tight timelines and quick turnarounds. They’ve always produced very high quality and professional product in fast moving environments. And we’re busy running the festival so they’re always able to give us exactly what we’re looking for with very little guidance,” said Gross.

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And we weren’t just shooting in our Saskatchewan backyard. Country Thunder took us to stops in Calgary, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, and Tennessee, and has granted us the opportunity to shoot with talent like Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Gord Bentley, Blake Shelton, Big and Rich, and the Dixie Chicks, to name just a few. We weren’t the boys from Somewhere, Saskatchewan anymore. We were the video crew working with the biggest names on one of the biggest stages in country music.


“It meant that in the scope of one festival you’re shooting event videos, a concert, corporate, DJ show, and party videos. It allowed us to acquire a huge range of skills,” said Stevens.


Since being thrown into the deep end with Country Thunder, we’ve only continued to swim deeper throughout the years. In addition to the live content at every festival, we’ve also created scripted and storyboarded content for Country Thunder’s marketing campaigns. And we’ve learned that those behind the festival (Kim, Troy, Samara, and Ted, we’re looking at you) are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet.


“They are an integral part of the festival, and really fit into our dynamic,” said Ted Gross, Country Thunder Director of Operations.


“This job is very tight timelines and quick turnarounds. They’ve always produced very high quality and professional product in fast moving environments. And we’re busy running the festival so they’re always able to give us exactly what we’re looking for with very little guidance,” said Gross.


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Barbershop Films has grown a lot since those early days of the Craven Country Jamboree in 2005. But Country Thunder is undoubtedly one of the roots that has allowed us to grow the branches we have today.


And with Country Thunder returning this summer, we’re eager to send a fresh batch of Barbershop talent to cut their teeth, get inspired, and perhaps create a few festive memories at Country Thunder.