Thomas is one of the film makers at Darkfest and as riders we wanted to learn more about his unique experience.
1. Who is Thomas Sandell and what do you do?
I'm a 22 year old filmmaker from Cape Town, South Africa.
2. What got you into bikes and photography in general?
I got into riding bikes when my little brother found a dirt jump spot in our neighbourhood and we would ride every weekend at age 14, and I've never stopped since. The film making side came from just filming our sessions and that eventually turned into something I do for a living.
3. How did you get the opportunity to combine the two and take pictures at such a unique event?
I got the opportunity to shoot Pure Darkness 3 because my friend that I grew up riding with, actually organised the event. I asked if I could tag along and shoot with the crew. He said yes and I've been a part of the crew ever since!
4. What does a normal day behind the lenses look like during events?
A normal day is wake up at 6 am and get some food and a coffee and see what the wind is looking like. If the wind is calm, the session is on. I'll go grab my gear, drive up to site and set up for the morning shoot.
The guys typically ride for 3 hours, where everyone works really hard (riders and media). Then we will head down, dump all of our footage and edit/chill. The next filming session happens in the evenings for about 3 hours as well. The guys ride in the mornings/evenings because it's 35 degrees Celsius in the middle of the day and it works out nicely for the photographers as that's when there is the best light.
5. What sort of gear do you need to survive?
I use my trusty Panasonic Lumix GH5, with a selection of lenses, a microphone, tripod, Ronin gimbal, and drone. Then I'm set.
6. What's the one piece of kit you wish you had bought with you?
So, so many things man, film making gear is changing constantly. But lately, I really want an external recorder to up the image quality of my GH5.
7. From your unique perspective is there anything about these types of events you don't like or would change?
The only thing is I wish it was longer! It's such a rad event that I honestly wouldn't change a thing!
8. Being a professional Photographer, people buying the rights to your photos is a key source of income, is there any particular things you do to stand out?
I work within a team of filmmakers, so the main thing for me is to capture the big moments or crazy tricks from the most impressive angle that will cut together with the rest of the team's angles.
During a Fest event, there is so much that happens all the time that the main thing is trying to cover the biggest jumps and stunts as best as we can as a team. The team consists of Chris Seager, Jacob Gibbins, Hayden Brown, RensenFPV Racing Drone team and myself.
9. With an event like Darkfest people are going to take some big slams, what's the atmosphere like when some takes a big digger?
Obviously, things get quiet. Then someone will make sure the rider is all good. Everyone looks out for one another and supports each other out here.
10. Any closing thoughts?
Thanks so much for the interview, this was my first!
See more of Thomas on his instagram @thomas.sandell