- Story by Chelsea Foreman
Rupert Walker is unintentionally cool. The 30-year-old action sports documentary maker speaks quickly, answering my questions with a depth of detail and fever that reveals his passion for his work.
I scribble notes furiously trying to capture his words. He catches me off guard when he describes the lack of deliberateness that found him turning a high school hobby into a wildly successful career. But then again, Rupert Walker is full of surprises.
Rupert was born in Vancouver. His dad’s career moved the family to various regions of the province and it was when the Walkers settled down in Kimberley on a ski hill that Rupert began honing his skills as an action sports documentary maker.
“A lot of my friends were pursuing careers as professional athletes. I would film us skiing and snowboarding. We just wanted to see the tricks we were doing; it wasn’t anything to do with trying to get a job in film or trying to pursue a career in that. It was purely just because we were excited to see what we were doing,” Rupert says, recalling his first introduction to filming.
Upon graduating high school, Rupert went to business school and his filming hobby went on a hiatus. Rupert credits business school as being a strong foundation and he has no regrets about choosing the educational avenue over film school.
“I didn’t need a professor to tell me how to be creative, or how to use a camera. Being creative is so subjective; using a camera is so subjective. There’s no one right answer. I know how to use a camera and be creative, and I know how to make the art and the content I want — but at the time I didn’t know how to run a business. I didn’t know the language of accounting and project management, and being a business owner. It was a good way for me to be exposed to the language of business,” says Rupert.
After attending business school Rupert — who spent much of his youth mountain biking in the Kootenay Mountains — moved to Victoria and met a new group of friends who were semi-professional mountain bikers.
“I started filming again, the same as before, only this time I was older. We’d be riding and jumping and I’d be filming totally for fun, because again, we wanted to look at what we were doing to try and figure out how we could become better athletes,” Rupert explains.
He soon found himself entrenched in his old hobby. He began to spend time on editing, which he describes as a nostalgic process that helped him rediscover his love for creating films. He would contact his friends’ sponsors and trade videos of them for a bike part, or a small amount of cash. But Rupert never expected his hobby could transform into a notable career.
“From there, I got really passionate about it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and at that point, I didn’t think filming action sports could turn into any kind of a career,” notes Rupert.
But he began creating video content every week, using social media and websites including Pinkbike (a major action sports video website) to share his work. He quickly developed a large online audience and was picked up by an action sports media company in Los Angeles, where he worked for a year. Struggling with the lack of creative freedom he had at a desk job, Rupert returned to Victoria and launched his own company, Revel Co., with his good friend and professional mountain biker, Brandon Semenuk.
“We decided to start our own business making the best mountain bike content that we possibly could. We started Revel Co. because we were tired of making content for other people without being able to be totally creative with and in complete control with what we were creating.”
Rupert and Brandon’s intention with Revel Co. was to focus on making the best, most creative videos, with a style of shooting and creativity influenced by no one but themselves,
“No one gets a say in what we create except us — even if it’s a client job. That’s our rule, and that’s how they turn out best,” Rupert says.
After building Revel Co. over two years ago, Brandon and Rupert now have an impressive clientele including Subaru Canada and Red Bull. Rupert films internationally, but is always happy to return home to Victoria to his girlfriend Berkley and their two Persian cats Digit and Sumo.
“A lot of time when you hear action sports you don’t think ‘this could be a really beautiful cinematic video.’ It’s a unique way to approach it — creating something that looks amazing and isn’t ‘out there,’” says Rupert.
Rupert doesn’t know exactly what’s in store for him next but he’s looking forward to continuing to grow his business.
I get the feeling that so long as he keeps creating for himself, success will be inevitable. For a man whose life has been defined by the unexpected, watching Rupert make his next move may be just as exhilarating as watching the documentaries he makes.