Meet Your Merchant: Bringing a passion for life to the lens | SierraSun.com

Meet Your Merchant: Bringing a passion for life to the lens

Priya Hutner
Special to the Sun
Evan Buzzell, left, and Scott Thompson created SBS Media House in 2011. "We produce an all-around film for our clients from start to finish. Our promotional videos are commercial quality," Buzzell said.
Courtesy Priya Hutner |

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What: SBS Media House

Phone: 916-580-8545 (Scott Thompson) or 817-217-5361 (Evan Buzzell)

Online: www.sbsmediahouse.com

How is it an astrophysicist major and a business graduate find themselves making films? Evan Buzzell and Scott Thompson are doing just that here at Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

The men met while attending the University of Colorado in 2008. During his freshman year, Thompson dreamed of going to New Zealand and wanted to take a semester off to travel, but he couldn’t find anyone to go with him.

One afternoon while skateboarding with Evan Buzzell, he proposed his plan.

At the time, Buzzell, while studying astrophysics, was filming skateboarding and snowboarding videos for fun. The duo planned to create a snowboarding travel documentary of their trip to New Zealand.

“Our goal is to bring action sports videos back to their roots before the corporate monsters get hold of it.”
Evan Buzzell
Co-owner, SBS Media House

Once there, though, the men had a difficult time finding jobs.

“We blew $2,000 each before we knew it,” Thompson said. “It put us in a great situation — either we go home with our tail between our legs, or make it work.”

TRIAL AND ERROR

To make some money, Thompson took a job at a call center selling funeral packages.

“Cold calling to retirement homes and trying to sell to the aging just felt too pushy,” Thompson said.

So after two days, he quit the job and found work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

Buzzell followed suit and found work at a different establishment.

“We woke up every morning to snowboard and film, washed dishes at night and partied until 3 a.m. for the next three months,” Buzzell recalled.

Their planned six-month trip was cut short when Buzzell broke his ankle in a snowboarding accident and needed to fly back to the States for surgery.

Thompson stayed for a couple weeks until he broke his collarbone while filming a snowboard video.

Back home, both men finished college, but found themselves questioning their respective paths.

TRANSCENDING AGE GROUPS

It was a snowboarding trip to Copper Mountain in 2011 that changed their trajectory.

“A friend of mine called and asked me to make a music video for him. I called Scott to help,” said Buzzell.

Thompson and Buzzell knew they had found their calling and decided to venture into business together, creating SBS Media House in 2011. “SBS” stands for Switch Back Side.

Both men wanted to make creative videos, continue shooting action sports and make money. They began shooting real estate videos and thought their plan was foolproof.

“We knew video was a way better model than virtual real estate tours which took potential clients away from the real estate website,” Thompson explained. “But in the end, the industry wasn’t ready.”

The duo eventually connected with the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and began shooting promotional videos for local businesses.

“One thing led to another and people liked our videos,” Buzzell said. “We have the ability to transcend age groups. Our nature is to think like a young person, but be professional.”

SBS, also a Mountain High Business Network International member, has been hired over the past several months to shoot a promotional video for the Rotary Club of Truckee, filming some of the programs the club supports, including Sierra Senior Services’ Meals on Wheels and Girls on the Run.

They continue to shoot real estate videos and just completed one for Carmen Carr of Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty.

FROM START TO FINISH

SBS Media House just finished production on a full-length feature film, “Elevate Tahoe,” about the sustainable food movement in the region. It premiered at the Community Arts Center in downtown Truckee last month.

“What began as a small film about the sustainable food scene in this area became much more and turned into a movie,” Thompson said.

Thompson said SBS provides a needed niche for the Truckee-Tahoe area.

“We are a start-to-finish media company,” he said. “We are involved in pre-production, planning with our clients, developing a storyboard (and) writing the script. We shoot the video and do all of the post production, which includes editing, color correction, and audio clean-up to make commercial quality videos for television.”

The duo’s blog on the SBS website has garnered much attention, and social media is critical to their success.

“Our passion has always been shooting action sports, culture and lifestyle, and travel documentaries,” Buzzell said. “Our blog is a creative expression of who we are … our goal is to bring action sports videos back to their roots before the corporate monsters get hold of it. It’s an organic process — rough and dirty.”

You can read the duo’s blog at sbsmediahouse.com/blog.

Priya Hutner is a freelance writer and can be reached at pria78@gmail.com.