Establishing Shots #7: Nils Clauson

Welcome to Establishing Shots, an interview series where we turn a spotlight toward the diverse talent that comprises QuickFrame’s Maker Community, emphasizing the personality and artistry behind some of our top video content makers.

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative career?

My name is Nils Clauson and I co-run a Seattle-based creative production studio called Wildly, where we specialize in producing commercial and non-fiction content that is human-centric and story-driven. I have been in the digital media management, broadcast, and production space for over 7 years. My experience ranges from making branded content for organizations (Verizon, Doordash, Rumpl, etc.) to producing full-feature documentaries such as “The Only” for Paramount+.

How did you get into a creative career?

I hope to avoid sounding tacky here but I’ve always been driven by the human expression ingredient required in this field. After graduating college, I packed my bags and traveled the world for a couple of years, immersing myself in different places and soaking up new communities. When I returned to the States, I founded The Pour, a social media platform that published impact-forward stories against the backdrop of the coffee industry. While I learned a lot starting The Pour, I also made many, many, many mistakes as I ventured into the world of creative entrepreneurship. However, those experiences (mistakes included) led me to meet my Co-Founder, Curran Ferrey, and to ultimately start Wildly

Can you tell us a bit about your typical creative process?

At Wildly, we believe that every project starts with a deep understanding of our partner’s goals, audience, and brand. From there, we enter the “mission control” phase and run a brainstorming session where we pitch each other on a variety of concepts until we find the “fit.” Once a concept is chosen, we dive into the details of the project (scripting, storyboarding, casting, location scouting, production planning, etc). It’s a collaborative and iterative process that allows us to bring our vision to life. More importantly, we try to not put the cart before the horse by focusing on the project details (marketing tactics) before understanding our partner’s core (brand essence).

Can you tell us more about a project you’ve worked on recently?

One of our last projects of 2022 was for Rumpl, an outdoor blanket company. As Rumpl owners ourselves, we were very thrilled to work with the company alongside MNTN. They asked for a holiday commercial that felt fun, inclusive, not overtly holiday-themed, and represented their brand.

We pitched a variety of concepts and in the end, landed on one called “Not Home for the Holidays.” In this spot, two young couples are on a holiday getaway in the snowy mountains. We see them lounging in Rumpl blankets before going on a winter hike and jumping in an alpine lake. After the freezing plunge, the Rumpl blankets would be waiting for them onshore, highlighting the product’s versatility.

To start, we needed a feasible location to fulfill all our needs. We needed a snowy backdrop, but were shooting in Washington in November, so the snow hadn’t stuck in a winter wonderland fashion quite yet. We also wanted an alpine lake but knew it wasn’t realistic to carry all of our gear miles uphill to find a true alpine lake, never mind asking our talent to come with us.

So we faked it. Using a drone to capture footage of snow-dusted trees, we set the scene for a wintery holiday getaway. After grabbing the establishing shots, we zoomed into the real bones of the spot; the hike, lake, and talent. We scouted a gorgeous lake and forested walk that passed for the Cascades, located right next to a parking lot and a boat dock. Setting up the polar plunge proved to be the biggest challenge; we needed to hit golden hour, keep our talent warm, and since we could only justify one lake jump in freezing temperatures, all three of our cameras needed to be set up and cover everything at once.

I jumped in the water with a wetsuit and a camera, Curran ran down the dock with our actors, and Liv covered the wide from shore. Immediately after the plunge, we had all talent get into our warm cars where we had blankets and hot tea waiting. After everyone could feel their toes again, we still had a few minutes of golden hour left, and we squeezed in one final alpenglow moment to close the spot. Ultimately, we had fun and it was a refreshing reminder to recreate those majestic moments on more sets.

Where do you find inspiration for your projects?

At Wildly, we seek out subjects who are passionate about their work, their communities, and the world around them, and it’s their stories that push us to explore our craft. Whether it’s commercial work or documentary projects, we strive to capture the essence of what makes our subjects tick and share that with the world. Additionally, our Wildly team is a vital source of inspiration. We have a group with a wide range of interests and experiences, but we’re united by our shared passion for stories of perseverance, excellence, rise and fall. We constantly challenge and support each other to level up, as we know that this collaborative spirit enables growth.

What advice would you give to a younger creative who wants to follow a similar path as you?

Again, not to sound boring and generic, but my advice to any creative is to take risks and be bold. Don’t be afraid to try new things and take on projects that challenge you. For example, for over two years we’ve been working on The Call Up, a documentary project that takes an intimate look at the experiences of Black, professional female athletes in American soccer.  We self-funded the entire production and, quite frankly, the challenge to make it felt daunting from the jump. But in pushing The Call Up forward, we’ve grown at every level of our business and as a team. It’s no doubt my favorite thing we’ve ever taken on because the reward wasn’t promised (and still isn’t fulfilled). Lastly, collaborate with others, learn from their experiences, and be open to feedback. Stay true to yourself and your creative vision. It’s easy to get caught up in what others want, but in reality, we all know that the greatest work comes from a place of authenticity.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself, your experience, or your inspiration?

For me, it’s an honor to work with someone on a project, whether it’s taking a single photo, shooting a short commercial‌ spot, putting together a feature film, or any other creative endeavor. I never take for granted the trust that’s bestowed on me to share someone’s experience. I firmly believe in the power of what we do and that it has the potential to affect folks on a deep and meaningful level. 

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