BLM summer intern shares experience filming recreation on public land in Colorado

by Cole Pearson, BLM Colorado video intern

My internship with the Bureau of Land Management gave me the opportunity to explore parts of Colorado I never knew existed, while building my skills as a videographer and a professional communicator. My passion has always been working with cameras, and combining this with the outdoors is something that I have always wanted to do. This internship gave me the ability to reach these goals. Throughout the past summer, I rafted down the Colorado River, climbed in a side-by-side to almost 13,000 feet in the San Juans, filmed ancient native structures in Sand Canyon, and filmed countless people doing what they love in the places they are passionate about.

Man holds camera to sign in red rock area
Cole gets low for a shot at Sand Canyon Trails in southwest Colorado by Shawn Reinhardt

The experiences I’ve had are invaluable and are something that I know will stick with me for the rest of my life. I got to see just how much impact our public lands have on people who take the time to enjoy them, and how enthusiastic they are when they get to show them off to a greater audience. Throughout my time, I filmed rafting, fishing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, OHV use, equestrian use, and rock climbing at 14 unique recreation sites. I also got tons of background information on the sites, their histories, new and old, and it gave me a real appreciation for how special these places are.

I filmed in many different situations with different types of people, and this was huge in helping me understand how to direct shoots and adapt to fast paced video production. One day I went handheld, pulling my camera in and out of a dry bag every couple of minutes to quickly catch the action as we floated by on raft in intermittent downpours, and the next day I was carrying a 15-pound rig and doing multiple takes to make sure the shot was right. Not knowing how each shoot was going to carry out was challenging and nerve-wracking but got me excited and gave me the motivation to do the best I could while bringing in new tactics I came up with from previous shoots. This also helped make sure that I never had a boring day because each day was so different from the last.

Man in red shirt films mountain bikers as they ride down a slope
Cole films mountain bikers in North Fruita Desert by Eric Coulter

During this internship, I also had to communicate with many different people, and this is something that will be crucial to me as I move into the professional world. I would coordinate with large groups of people through, text, emails, and phone calls to work out schedules, times, locations, etc.  Being able to do this proficiently is not something that is talked about much but will be invaluable to me knowing that I can plan out a full week of filming at four different sites with 15 hours of driving across 869 miles and have it go seamlessly. I don’t say that to brag, I say that because I know at the beginning of the summer, it probably would have been a disaster but at the end I was able to do it without any problems due to the experience I gained.

It is hard for me to think of a better way to make the transition from college to career. This internship has been one incredible experience and I will keep these skills and memories with me for the rest of my life.

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Cole Pearson was a summer intern for the Office of Communications in the BLM Colorado State Office. He spent 15 weeks capturing footage on public land and creating videos promoting 14 BLM-managed recreation sites across Colorado. His videos support the Choose Your Adventure recreation campaign which highlights the vast recreation opportunities and unique experiences on BLM-managed land in Colorado. To check out Cole’s videos, visit: blm.gov/chooseyouradventure or follow our BLM Colorado facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/BLMColorado/