Working With the Pros: A Profile on Videographer Troy Gray

When I spoke with Troy Gray he was enroute – driving from L.A. to Nevada. The route is a familiar one for Troy and others like him, who moved to L.A. to launch film careers. Troy is a University of Nevada graduate from Reno with varied experience in film, but a knack for one thing in particular – skate videography.

Troy said his career really began when he picked up a skateboard. Eventually his passion for skating led him to a camera. When Troy started filming his friends’ tricks, he wanted to emulate the work of legendary skate videographers like Brain Farm’s Ty Evans. He started filming for fun, though he admittedly knew next to nothing about how to operate a camera.

Since then, he’s shot countless skate videos and built an impressive portfolio. He’s been invited to help out shooting footage for DC Shoes, where he was able to shoot several top name pros. He also helped shoot a promo video for skating pro Chris Cole. Troy has also filmed advertisements for businesses and startups and worked as a production assistant on the set of Furious 7.

I asked Troy how he liked working on the set of Furious. “I prefer more action. It’s a little slow for me,” he said. “I like things moving. I like action. I prefer filming action sports.”

At heart, Troy is a skater and an athlete, which is why he seems to be cut out for a career in a specific field. He describes his style as somewhat unstructured and prefers unscripted stories. He’s humble and easygoing, and eager to give credit where credit’s due.

“I have a friend who is a video producer for the skateboard section at DC Shoes. He’s definitely someone I look up to,” Troy said. That friend is Ty Evans’ protégé, Chris Ray, whose background ESPN described as the “success story every young kid wants.”

Like Ray, Troy has spent a good amount of time in Reno, Nevada. Both videographers took a hands-on approach to shooting footage, initially guided by only ambition and uncanny natural ability. “To be honest, when it comes down to it, I have what I would say is a natural talent, and an eye for what looks good,” Troy said.

So what goes into filming a skate video? Troy said he likes to keep things unscripted, but he still tells a story every time he shoots a video by capturing the environment around the athlete, as opposed to just filming trick after trick. “I might just show everything that’s going on, so you get the feeling of being there,” he said. Troy captures his footage on multiple Canon and Panasonic cameras. When he’s able to he uses a Red Scarlet, which shoots in 4 and 5k and costs upwards of $20,000. “It’s very expensive to be relevant today,” he said.

But it’s sheer talent that’s brought him this far. What’s it take to start a career in skate videography? In Troy’s case, it’s a willingness to work tirelessly, a natural eye for what looks good, and a tendency to get bored on the set of Furious 7. It’s clear that Troy’s going to film until he gets where he wants to be.

Find Troy Gray on YouTube and follow him on Instagram: @troygray15

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