From festivals to weddings to real estate, Grant JT Holub of Black Hills Video has seen it all (including quirky music videos for the Nashville, Tenn. band The Outer Vibe). The professional storyteller has been creating films since a young age, and now shares his talents from the ground and high up in the air thanks to drones. 605 caught up with the cinematographer to see what inspires him, where some of his favorite spots are at, and what it’s like capturing the Black Hills from the sky.
You might know Black Hills Video from… several wedding, aerial, and event videos. Also, the logo is making its rounds either on stickers or hats in downtown Rapid City.
I got into film when… my teachers in 10th grade started letting me make videos instead of writing papers and doing projects for class. At the time, the videos were great, and it wasn’t hard to get people interested in helping. That was 12 years ago. YouTube wasn’t big yet when I first started, so I was just making content on the fly without any knowledge.
We are 107a FAA certified, which means… that I probably won’t get in trouble for flying a drone. Like most things, flying a drone on a professional level, being aware of the environment, and situation, requires a license. Four hundred feet up, and as far as the eye can see (within reason).
What I love about flying/filming with the drone is… it give you views and shots that weren’t able to be thought of/captured otherwise. Aerial cinematography adds a lot of value to film. The Black Hills is by far the best place to fly around, as we have so many different and unique locations. My favorite location to fly so far would be the Needles in Custer State Park.
We help location scout, which means… I get to help find the filming location for a project. Growing up in the badlands, and now living/exploring in the Hills, has helped me find some really great locations. I owe my friends many thanks for all the hikes. Rapid City gets a lot of outside companies/productions all year long that come here and are wanting to film somewhere beautiful and unique.
I love shooting at events and festivals. One of my favorite local festivals is… the Lead Winterfest. Lead is a seriously underrated town. It has skiing, beer, dark matter science, and several places to get lost outside of town. Like, you could be at the Greenfield Pub drinking a beer, and then there’s some scientists 4,850 feet below the earth in the cleanest room in the world, and that’s just Tuesday for ya.
Along with being hired for shoots, I’m passionate about working with great organizations. One non-profit I shoot for is… Black Hills Works. Last year we started working with the Black Hills Works in creating several story-based campaign videos to highlight the amazing work they do, and the people they support. It’s been an amazing experience, and we’re looking forward to continuing with them.
One of my favorite parts about South Dakota is… that it’s still the “Wild West.” And nothing is impossible.
Our tagline is “Get Elevated,” which is… like our version of seize the day. Also, we fly drones a lot, giving an elevated look on what we’re shooting.
Shooting music videos is different than other shoots, because… you can do as many takes as you need, and it allows you to get creative. And if you can a fly drone around a band playing a song during the Solar Eclipse? Do it.
One project I’m really excited about… was one I produced for the Dakota Five-O. Last year, six friends and I filmed the 50 mile, 700-rider bike race outside of Spearfish. With eight-plus hours of footage, 120-plus editing, 20-plus re-edits, the Dakota Five-O movie turned out to be pretty awesome, weighing in at nine minutes long.
If someone comes to the Black Hills, I always recommend to stop at… the Badlands, because they are awesome to adventure, and not too far from Rapid. They might as well stop at Wall Drug for a donut and ice water while they’re at it. Besides Mt. Rushmore, there’s a few breweries/hikes I would recommend. Ask me sometime.
A project I’m currently working on is… this summer I’m creating a video series featuring people doing their thing in the Black Hills, whether it be rock climbing, biking, hiking etc. The Woods Are Sick was inspired by one rad lady, and it will highlight people and their talents and dreams, along with the beauty of the Black Hills. If you’d like to adventure the Hills, let me know.
Why I enjoy telling stories through film is… that it’s either helping a cause, or possibly could be contributing to society. Everything has a story, it’s just how you tell it that makes it worth it.
For more information, check out blackhillsvideo.com.