February 26th, 2015

Behind closed doors — Manufacturer 2016 Photo Shoot

When the manufacturers finally reveal photos and video of next year’s mountain sled, have you ever found yourself wondering just who is that lucky dude riding that thing??  Chances are if it’s a 2016 Yamaha you’re looking at, it’s Zac Parks.
Zac takes us behind closed doors to reveal just what goes on, and what it’s like to be the talent on a big-time media shoot for one of the largest companies in snowmobiling.  – MS


“When filming for Yamaha, we meet in an undisclosed location for 2 weeks and ride every day from 7:00am to 5:00pm. We meet early every morning and have breakfast, pack some snacks, and get our Yamaha gear, beacons, avy bags, etc ready to go. On sunnier days we pack a lunch to eat up on the hill. Once we are set, we have a meeting with the film crew before taking off so they can let us know what our main focus is for the day. They emphasize which scenery and snowmobile views we’ll be looking for that day. Then we’re off to our riding location, typically by around 7:45am.

When we show up to the base, the mechanics on duty have our sleds warmed up, full of fuel, and parked out front where we get ready for the day. If anything goes wrong, we pull right into the mechanics heated tent, and it is repaired on the spot.

The film crew that is hired for the event scouts the area well before we show up, which helps secure prime riding spots, privacy, and ideal photo opportunities.

If the locations that the film crew has previously scouted out has already been hit by other snowmobilers, we keep moving along until we find the right place for the perfect shot. Normally it’s not hard to find fresh spots since the photographers have already familiarized themselves so well with the area. We always look for ways to incorporate the background into the shots—things like frosted trees or cool scenery.

The camera guys are pretty well setup and professional. They’ve never needed our help carrying equipment, which is nice because it allows us to dedicate our time and energy to our primary focus of riding and nailing down some sick shots. Yamaha only hires the best in the filming industry, which is readily apparent after a couple of days of riding.

Luckily, on manufacturer shoots we really don’t need to bring as much stuff as we would riding at home. In my pack I have an extra set of gloves and goggles, and some extra snacks, in case of an emergency.

In our morning meeting they tell us what terrain we will be riding for the photos/videos. Most of it is tree riding, due to the fact that we have to stay out of sight from other snowmobilers. Once we’re out there, the film crew tells us what to do for the shot—whether it be carving in front of them, coming at them out of the trees, etc.




There is a lot of stop and go riding throughout the day, especially if you run into fog or bad light. Every shot has to be perfect, so it can get difficult at times. It’s very important to stay in a single-file when moving between areas, just in case the film crew has certain spots picked out. It’s really hard when you come up to an awesome area full of fresh snow and sunny skies, and aren’t able to shred it all up right away.

On the days that we are expecting clear skies and fresh powder, we will plan ahead and make sure that we are out on the snowmobiles before daylight, in order to get those awesome shots that everyone dreams of. Sometimes we stay out through dusk, chasing sunset shots and/or nighttime shots with unique lighting effects.

Yamaha provides us with prototype gear that is made from the world’s best snowmobile gear company; FXR Racing. We have to be very careful not to get it dirty or spill any fluids that would stain the gear. As every backcountry rider knows, it’s important to have all of the proper gear before heading into the backcountry. So Yamaha equips us from head to toe with both riding and safety gear to ensure that we’re prepared for the backcountry.




My overall experience at manufacturer photo shoots has been remarkable. I couldn’t be more impressed with the structure and format that Yamaha has executed. I’m grateful and humbled to be able do what I love while representing a company that I respect tremendously.”


Zac boosting in his own free time.

Zac boosting in his own free time.





– Zac Parks
Check out Zac’s athlete page at https://www.facebook.com/Zac351Parks