As an undergraduate, Caleb Farro ’11 and the rest of the USC Ski and Snowboard Team would head to Mammoth Mountain each weekend and make videos of their ski trips. He could not have imagined these escapades would lead him to his dream job.
“We would duct tape Canon PowerShots to the end of ski poles and film our runs with these really small cameras,” said Farro, who earned his bachelor’s in international relations at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Basically finding anything you can put a camera on is what my role is when I go on a production.
At a ski and snowboard expo in Las Vegas, the team approached GoPro, a company that makes small, high-quality video cameras often used to capture action sports. The team showed the GoPro reps its ski videos and were given a GoPro camera to use for its next trip.
“We made a 100 percent GoPro video and posted it online,” Farro said. “The company loved it so much they sponsored our team.”
Farro learned the art of following his teammates closely down a run, filming them with a camera mounted to the end of one of his ski poles. Abe Kislevitz, a close friend on the team, ended up working for GoPro after graduation, and Farro’s name came up when the company needed an experienced skier to capture chase footage at the X Games, the annual extreme sports competition.
“That’s how I got my first job at GoPro,” said Farro, who is now a production assistant with the company. “I did the follow cams for a Big Air ski event at X Games. It morphed into filming all kinds of crazy and adventurous activities.”
Before graduating, Farro was sent to his first X Games. Now he travels around the world as part of GoPro’s media team, helping to coordinate shoots for the company’s commercials and viral Internet videos.
A few experiences stick out in his mind. For instance, Farro traveled to the South Pacific Ocean as part of a team taping three deep-sea divers swimming with whales.
“We filmed there for eight days,” he said. “I ended up getting stuck in Tonga because of an electrical storm, but that was one of the coolest productions I’ve been on to date.”
Steep streets, sweeping stairways
Last summer, Farro traveled to Chile to assist on two videos. The first featured professional snowboarders and skiers who were lifted up by helicopter to breathtaking peaks in Valle Nevado in the Andes Mountains. The second featured mountain bikers riding through the port city of Valparaiso, with its steep, winding streets and colorful stairways.
“That was an amazing shoot,” Farro said. “I got to heli-ski, we had beautiful weather and fresh snow — everything lined up.”
As part of the productions, Farro helps coordinate camera coverage to capture one-of-a-kind points of view.
“In Chile we brought down about 110 cameras, maybe more,” Farro said. “We had every possible mount that you can think of. We had poles sticking off of people’s heads, we were mounting cameras on athlete’s skis. We mounted some to the bottom of helicopters and had the helicopters follow the athletes on their runs. We used remote-control drones with GoPros attached. Basically finding anything you can put a camera on is what my role is when I go on a production.”
Farro, who grew up in Hood River, Oregon — known as a mecca for outdoor activities like windsurfing and its proximity to Mount Hood — got his start in skiing at the age of 2. When he’s not working, Farro seeks out places to kite surf, mountain bike or ski with friends and his identical twin brother Christopher Farro ’11. His sibling, who was also on the USC Ski and Snowboard Team and now works for GoPro’s marketing and brand team, earned his bachelor’s from the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Price School of Public Policy.
Inspired by international relations
Farro credits his time at USC Dornsife for broadening his world view. In particular, he was inspired by an introductory international relations class he took with Professor Steven Lamy, vice dean for academic programs.
“Professor Lamy was the one who taught me to look at things from everybody’s point of view, not just from one side,” Farro said.
During his undergraduate years, Farro spent a semester studying international relations at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Most notably, he enjoyed the opportunity to immerse himself in a culture that looked at the world in a different way.
“To go to the southern hemisphere and see their world view in different conflicts, compared to the U.S., was a defining moment,” Farro said.
Farro said he continues to take that message to heart whether he’s traveling for work or fun.
“I definitely keep an open mind when I’m abroad,” he said. “That’s also the best thing about traveling. You get to see so many different points of view.”
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