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May 1, 2024 by Marc Peruzzi

Meet a Creative: Cole Sax

Filmmaker & Development Executive

Home Base / Salt Lake City, Utah.

Activities / Skiing, climbing, surfing, skateboarding, adventure travel.

Why Cole

As a Utah kid, Cole Sax’s entrance into a career as a camera operator, producer, director, filmmaker, and project developer was pretty standard. At age 14, he picked up a camera and started cutting edits of his buddies skiing Utah’s famous snow.

That bit is almost cliché. What happened next isn’t. Cole was a storytelling wunderkind. At age 16, he earned an internship with a Los Angeles production house called Insync Plus that cut trailers for major motion pictures. After three summers of interning, he was hired on and worked on trailer for “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Despicable Me,” and more.

As a member of the YouTube generation, when he moved on from the film trailer gig at age 20, Cole just dove into making content for YouTube. That led to a role with Shareability, a Utah company that at the time was delivering back-to-back 100 million hit years. That jack of all trades filmmaking background got him in Utah’s Phil Hessler—who has since become a longtime producing partner. This was 2017, and Cole was 24 at the time.

It was with Hessler that Cole and a team developed “Far From Home,” a documentary series that followed non-traditional winter athletes in the lead up to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. They sold the series to the Olympic Channel (NBC) and also released it over Snapchat. (Stay with me, he packed a lot in.) From there it was on to Step Studios in California, where Cole developed campaigns for commercial clients like Oakley and Nike. Directing feature length films followed. And by age 30 Cole was a Global Development Executive with Red Bull Media House. (Phew.) Now, he runs Think Less, his production house in Utah.

Cole can still run cameras.
The shadow of a producer.

If a career could be compared to the weather, Cole’s has been a tempest in a maelstrom. But those high school years as an intern set him up well. If Cole has one trait that sets him apart, it’s the ability to adapt to new environments and adopt new skills on the fly. That was beaten into him at a young age.

Starting my career in high school while sleeping on a couch in a garage during the internship, I reveled in the freedom to explore and create. Yet, transitioning to a full-time role as a 19-year-old kicked my ass. At first, I struggled with the structured environment, which was a stark contrast to my free-spirited nature at the time. I learned the hard way that harboring an ego or a sense of entitlement only invites correction by the real world. It’s a delicate balance—you want to be true to yourself and your vision, but you also have to recognize that leadership involves being accountable to a community.

Cole Sax Producer, Director, Filmmaker, Project developer

Way past established since before he was included in Utah’s 20 In Their 20’s , Cole has crafted narratives for the likes of YouTube Originals, Facebook, Google, Nike, and The Olympics. But his work is not just about the hundreds of millions of views he’s generated, or the accolades, which include a Cannes Silver, a Gold Tellys, and Mountainfilm’s Spirit Award, and more. Cole is in filmmaking to explore culture through character-driven storytelling that entertains and inspires. “I want to inspire brands, networks, and organizations to champion stories that don’t just sell, but also shape our world for the better,” he says.

Specialized Skills

By design, Cole is no longer a specialist—although he shoots, edits, and directs with the best of them. Today that knowledge base is put to use in producing and product development. “At one point in my career, I only wanted to be in the field. Now, I’m directing the projects I know I am the right fit for. When I’m not, I do everything I can to uplift and bring new people in for these jobs.”

Cole’s talent is undeniable. In all the years since establishing our company and building our slate of projects, he is amongst the best we have ever worked with.

Andrew Fried President, Boardwalk Pictures.
What's Next

“Everything goes through cycles,” says Cole. “Right now, there’s so much content out there that it’s easy to get fatigued by it all. But that doesn’t mean quality storytelling is going away. The networks are purging shows and it can be hard to find funding and distribution for documentaries. But think about how much power resides with brands these days. They are the ones commissioning good work. With Think Less, we’re trying to build a strong entertainment studio here in Salt Lake that can help to tell those stories. That’s what we’re building.”