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Alumni finds success behind the camera

Sam Saarel (Courtesy of Sam Saarel)

“If it’s your passion then become obsessed with it. Nothing comes easy or without hard work – otherwise everyone would do it,” Saarel remarks.
Sam Saarel, a 2018 graduate from Park High, has continued his journey from high school as a filmmaker. Sam already knew what he wanted to do long before highschool and college.
“Some people never figure out what their passion in life is, but I was one of the lucky ones who knew from the middle of high school: to become an established and award winning filmmaker juxtaposed against climbing world-class mountains with professional athletes,” Saarel stated in an email.
Saarel’s plan was to never touch a camera again. His mom, a portrait photographer, used him as her talent, maybe a little too much, but as Saarel says, “the universe had different ideas.”
Growing up on top of the Bozeman Pass, Sam and his twin sister Larissa would often be trapped for days or even weeks in their home due to being snowed in. They would pass time by creating all kinds of films. Eventually they became more action based revolving around skiing.
“Eventually in high school I realized I could do something with this whole film thing, so I started making videos for friends and small businesses,” Saarel explained.
Participating in Park High school sports and extracurricular activities such as BPA taught Saarel the importance of working towards goals and shaped the way he approaches things now. Park High businesses teacher Reid Lende about Saarel in highschool, he commented on Saarel’s work ethic, stating,“Any job he had to do he put a lot of time into, whether on the preparation side or the editing side, he took a lot of pride in what he did.”
Saarel’s more recent work is with Mission Ranch, a full service production company that he started along with 16 other co-workers. He is now a Director of Photography and does Aerial Cinematography as well. His love for action sports and the outdoors have shaped the things he films. Wanting to “juxtapose true emotion into his work has proved a valuable asset into many productions,” Saarel comments. No matter what, he will get the camera where it needs to be.
Some of the projects Saarel has worked on include a short film titled “Recess” a Bozeman Spirits Huckleberry Vodka video, and a couple of First Lite advertisements. These can be found on the website. Saarel has also posted a couple of videos on his youtube channel,his most recent being his 22’ DP Cinematic Reel, containing some of his favorite shots from the 2022 year. Saarel plans to continue his journey and is ready for what’s next.


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