Sundance Film Festival Blog

The way you get good at taking pictures is by taking lots of pictures. The way you get good at public speaking is by doing lots of public speaking. And the way you get good at doing video is by doing lots of video. And after 8 years of Saddleback being committed to doing lots of video, it’s starting to get noticed.

About 8000 short films were submitted to The 2014 Sundance Film Festival and only 60 were chosen. Of those 60, Saddleback Leather got in our first of many planned snippets into the lives of Saddleback employees. The very short film is called Tim and Susan Have Matching Handguns. This goes to show that when someone is fully committed to using video in business and has someone named Joe Callander, a wildly talented and now technically World Class filmmaker, on staff, great things will come about.

In 2005, I bought my very first video camera for a trip into the Sahara and made everybody who watched the footage sick. After Uncle Pat gave me the tip, “Don’t go fast and all over the place. Pan slowly”, my videos got better.

In 2006, just after Youtube started up, I still wasn’t very good at video but that didn’t bother me. I’m not good at a lot of things. But we got a video of sharks swimming around a briefcase on our honeymoon in Bora Bora. A few months later, we filmed the same briefcase being attacked by a crocodile in Australia.

In 2007, I invested in a big fancy video camera that even used HD tapes. I only knew how to turn it on and off and zoom, but it sure was pretty. We took it to Jamaica and filmed a real nice dreadlocked man demonstrating how to convert a briefcase into a backpack. And we just kept getting better.

Well, it wasn’t long before we moved into some product demo videos at home. They weren’t great, but they were better than what we had. The Great Migration Travel Case and the Maasai Spear Throwing Backpack videos came next and over the years we just kept getting better at video poco a poquito, as we say in Mexico.

In 2011, we took our first employee trip to Rwanda and that’s when our video level elevated a few notches. I was talking with one of our employees, Joe Callander, before the trip and asked him what he did besides being a part time Vespa mechanic in Hollywood and he said that he was a filmmaker. So, I asked him if he would do a little filming in Rwanda on this trip and he agreed. He did such a great job with The Beast, “Looking for a Drum” video that I knew right then and there he was the one to take our film to a whole nother level (Is “nother” a word?).



We were all impressed with the Joe and I was so committed to video in our business that I shortly moved Joe into a part time film role at Saddleback. I’m so glad I did. In the summer of 2012, we upgraded to two Nikon D4 DSLR’s and some very nice Zeiss prime lenses. We then took off around the world for a couple of months with Joe and the family filming a full feature documentary enjoying work and family (you’ll understand after you watch the film).

In 2013, not knowing exactly what would happen, I moved Joe into full time film. At first, Joe asked, “But what will I do?”. After about 3 months of brainstorming and experimenting, he was so busy that we couldn’t even imagine how we could NOT have a full-time person in film. We now use video (I like to call it film when it’s artful) for the “following”:


  • Product Explanations (How to Knock Off a Bag).
  • Product Demonstrations.
  • Products in Use (Africa, New Zealand, Kenya, Mexico, Bora Bora, etc.).
  • Education (explaining quality thread, leather, design, etc.).
  • Video Blogs around the world (Selfies on my iPhone).
  • Employee Profiles (Snippets into their lives to show people who is behind the scenes here.) The first one we’ve made is a Sundance short film titled Tim and Susan Have Matching Handguns. Instead of just posting an employee pic on the “About Us” page telling their birthplace and hobbies).
  • A full length feature documentary highlighting some of what we value most in life.
  • Nearly finished full length feature documentary showing our values while developing a new line.
  • In the planning stages of a full length feature film.


Here’s is the full film (all 90 seconds)

What better way to share how we value people and quality and innovation and excellence than through film? Many companies will tell you what they value… whatever they think you want to hear, but is there enough evidence to convict them in a court of law of what they claim? As I often tell parents, “Your kids are watching your video way more than they’re listening to your audio. Tell them anything, show them everything.”