Westminster alum parlays his professional ski career to the camera lens
by Lily Wolfe (’18)
Matt Hardy (’13) began his college career at the University of Colorado Boulder on its ski team but felt stuck being two hours away from the mountains. After an injury, he transferred to Westminster. This move gave him access to more than great skiing: it connected him to the people and skills that would launch his career.
What did you study at Westminster?
“I double-majored in finance and marketing. I wanted to go into banking and work the stock market, which was a blessing in disguise. Many creatives lack business sense. At Westminster, I learned to pitch ideas correctly and have finances in order.”
How did you get into cinematography?
“My junior year, I won a videoconference internship through Start the Adventure (STA) Travel. I was one of two winners out of 6,000 applicants. The prize was three months in Europe creating videos for STA. I’d done photography, videography, and blogging for ski trips; but I didn’t know I could film at that level.”
How did you take your filming to the next level?
“Skiing was my entry point into the professional film world. Being an ex-professional skier, I could keep up with the pros who trusted me regarding avalanche safety and film at the high level required. I started filming with Teton Gravity Research. My friend, Marcus Caston (’13)—a Warren Miller athlete and Westminster student—got me in with Warren Miller Entertainment. I licensed my first Warren Miller film with footage shot in the Utah backcountry.”
How do you find clients?
“Most of the time I get work through word of mouth. I also pitch companies by cold-calling and emailing. The biggest part of it is networking. Websites like LinkedIn have been amazing for my career. My high school teacher made us start a LinkedIn page, and now I get half of my work through the site.”
How often do you travel?
“I’m on the road at least eight months out of the year. It’s hard, but it allows me to get jobs others turn down because of time commitments. Most people see the pretty pictures and the exotic places, but don’t understand the amount of work it requires.”
What are your upcoming projects?
“I am currently working on a TV series, which is pushing me creatively because it’s not winter sports related. In the winter, I’ll continue filming with Warren Miller, but then it is unknown. I’m booked eight to nine months out—as long as I ever have been. But I could also get a call tomorrow for a month-long shoot starting immediately. It’s a bit unpredictable.”
What are your most memorable experiences?
“Being around world-class athletes is cool because I get to learn and try new things and go new places. It keeps me searching for stuff I didn’t know even existed. The best experience I’ve had was in Ghana because it felt so authentic. We went to a village where the people had never interacted with westerners before. I visited in 2012, and it wasn’t until four years later I began to understand how the experience affected me and their community.”
Countries visited: Over 65
Most checked bags on a flight: 26
Favorite gear: REDs, which are industry standard for action sports, and different drones from DJI and Freefly
Must-bring item: Cigarettes (used as bribes to get gear to remote locations or access to certain areas)
Content specialties: Skiing, mountain biking, running, travel, study-abroad experiences, land-trust videos
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.