How does one creative agency, a community, 10 photographers, and a busload of athletes come together to create the ultimate celebration of mountain culture? Enter: Uprising, a new twist on an existing photography competition focused on fostering mentorship with content creators and athletes all in the name of raising money for Protect Our Winters Canada.
On February 22nd, 1100 locals came together and filled the ballroom at Fairmont Chateau Whistler in the name of mountain culture. Uprising was a night for the community, by the community. On the outside, Uprising (we hope) looked like a polished and professionally-run event. On the inside, well, it was also that. But it was also a group of people simply yearning for an event that stood for what makes Whistler so incredible - its people and the energy and creativity they all bring, and the mentorship that follows. With that in mind, we decided to peel back the curtain a bit and show you what it took to pull this thing off.
Early December 2019
The Uprising journey started in early December. As a few Originers sat around one afternoon enjoying a few office beers, they lamented on Deep Winter being on hiatus that year. To say it was one of the best events in town was an understatement - the event stood tall as the herald of mountain culture for the past decade. As the glasses ran empty, an idea was proposed: “couldn’t we just do it ourselves? We work with most of these photographers every day and have all the right connections with athletes and sponsors. We could add a new twist to the venerable event as well as make it a fundraiser for POW Canada”. Danielle (principle and owner of Origin) was quickly enamoured with the idea (as she is with many ideas that are about adding culture to the town she’s called home for so long) and by the following week, she had schemed a plan that would birth Uprising.
December 6th, 2019 – The Retreat
It just so happened that Origin’s annual retreat and Christmas party was occurring the following week of when the idea of a temporary replacement event was first whispered. The two-day retreat, in which all Origin staff fly in and travel to attend, starts with a full-day team building exercise/project.
It was the perfect opportunity for all of Origin to come together to decide what this new event could look like.
To solve the task, we used the framework we use for many of our client projects. We can’t show you how all of the sausage is made, but the general framework looks like this:
Throughout the whole morning, 8 teams of 5 worked together to develop their own concept for the event - all of which were to be pitched to the full agency over lunch.
As lunch came and went and the teams presented their concepts, one concept was chosen - one that had community and mentorship at its core. That concept is what eventually became Uprising after an afternoon of the full team fleshing out all the details of the event from sponsorships, to venues, to photography teams. You name it, we discussed it.
January 3rd, 2020
Following a well earned Christmas break, the new year brought a new challenge: how do we make Uprising happen?
We needed a venue, as well as money to have a prize to be won. Within minutes of reaching out to Barrett Fisher, President and CEO at Tourism Whistler for cash for the prize and Norm Mastalir, managing director at the Fairmont for a venue, they both were 100% in on Uprising. With that, we secured a venue free of charge; the venue where Deep Winter was always held. The stars were aligning and we knew we were on the right track.
We needed someone with experience putting on such a big event (we’re branding and marketing experts, not event planning experts, after all). Fortunately, Jaime Kerrigan, the longtime producer of some of this town’s best shows such as Intersection and the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, quickly signed on to work with us in producing Uprising.
We needed photographers. Danielle and Origin's resident strategist/photographer John Entwistle began a weeks-long effort to convince 5 pros to drop everything they were doing the following month and join us for the event. They also recruited dozens of up-and-comer photographers, short-listed them to 10 and eventually matched 5 up with their pro counterparts to form the Uprising teams.
The stars continued to align.
January 4th to Show Night
The following month was a blur as everyone from Origin stepped in to pour their heart and soul into making Uprising the best it could be. A visual identity was developed, pro photographers were invited, up-and-comers were chosen, rules and regulations were agreed upon, and sponsors were pursued.
As each week passed by, we crept closer to the night of the event as tickets began to sell and sponsors came on board to support the cause of fundraising for Protect our Winters Canada.
February 22nd - The Big Night
Fast forward to February 22nd, and everything was in place. Like the stand-up guy he is, Mike Douglas agreed to emcee the event, teams had been put together, their shows had been submitted, and tickets sold out the night before. Perfect.
As the Fairmont ballroom filled up, the event went off without a hitch. At the end of it, Erin Hogue and Vince Emond were chosen as overall winners by the people, Mason Mashon & Tyler Ravelle won best action shot presented by ClifBar, and Duncan Sadava one best up-and-comer photo by Gogglesoc.
At the end of it all, we raised $10,000 for Protect our Winters Canada and put on an event that we’re really proud of. We would like to give a huge thank you to all the brands and people that pitched in to help us put on Uprising:
We couldn’t have done it without them.
As far as what will happen next year, we’re going to let the chips fall where they may for now. In the meantime, we’ll continue doing what we love: being outside, and telling stories about people being outside.