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Feb 20, 2024 by Marc Peruzzi
Photograph Rob Aseltine courtesy Alex Mager

Meet a Creative: Alex Mager

filmmaker | cameraman | run & gun operator

Home Base / Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Activities / Skiing, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, whitewater.

Why Alex

For much of his short, but blossoming career, Alex Mager was a run-and-gun camera operator working on projects for clients like Sweetgrass Productions and Team 13 as well as alongside the Utah filmer and editor Hennie van Jaarsveld—he interned under Hennie at Powder. For four winters Alex also produced and edited original content for the marketing team at Goldminer’s Daughter—the famed Alta ski area lodge.

At first, the creative work wasn’t full time. In summer, Alex guided whitewater and in winter he ripped around Alta, knocking off 100-day seasons and eating 100 buffalo chicken wraps from Goldminer’s to power through. But between the professional work and his high school days shooting buddies skiing the park at Highland Hills in Minnesota, Alex picked up a lot of skills. From Westminster College, the transition to Alta was seamless.  “With Goldminer’s I was doing everything from content planning to execution; stills and video; editing everything and posting,” he says.

Photograph Joey Manship courtesy Alex Mager
Like much of the Utah creative community, Alex has deep ties to the Lift Company. Location: A view of Highboy, Alta, Utah.

Today Alex is taking on a mix of commercial work, while pursuing passion projects. Or, ideally, combining the two. His short film “Tequio Trails” with the director Tony Martin (Cotapaxi is the title sponsor and Hence is a supporter) is a story about international mountain bikers joining forces with the indigenous people of rural Oaxaca to build an inclusive mountain biking culture. The film documents the group’s effort in turning a small trail system in Oaxaca’s verdant backcountry into a regional and international draw. If you want to see the power of bikes, check it out.

Photograph Kami Mager
On "Tequio Trails."
Photograph Alex Mager
Director Tony Martin and guide Chiquis.
Photograph Kami Mager
Tough piloting drones in the jungle.

“Creating “Tequio Trails” was a big leap forward for me as a filmer,” says Alex. “With a lot of commercial work, you can’t always wait for the golden hour to get the footage you’re after. It’s important to know how to deliver quality in that scenario too, but waiting for great light or for a story to come together is key to me. I want to work on the type of projects that balance the deadlines with the quality of the finished product. It took me a long time to figure that out. I think I made five cents an hour on “Tequilo Trails, but you have to schedule in work like that to feed your passions. You learn more from those projects.”

Photograph Jim Simpkins courtesy Alex Mager
Life skills double as career skills. No drones allowed in designated Wilderness, so Alex gets creative to capture that bird's eye view.

One thing that I’ve enjoyed seeing with Alex has been his progression from a young kid who just wanted to make ski videos, to now coming to each job knowing that it’s about much more than pressing record. Alex understands that prep and planning are essential to good work. He comes prepared for the shoot, but he also has backup plans and options already prepared. He’s proactive and eager. You can depend on him. He shows up and gets the project across the finish line, no matter what.

Hennie van Jaarsveld Filmmaker | Editor | Director
Specialized Skills

For smaller, faster moving projects, never discount the value of a filmmaker who can scout, shoot, direct, and edit. By necessity, Alex can do the one-man-band thing.

Photograph Alex Mager
With Alex, multiple mediums means multiple mediums.

What's Next

Look for Alex’s passion project “Tequilo Trails” to hit a festival near you in the coming months. He’s also working on a longer piece about the family that founded Goldminer’s Daughter—and the skiers that helped pioneer powder skiing, not just in North America, but the world. That could hit as soon as late March.