Spotlight: Zeppelin Zeerip, Executive Producer/Director

This series of posts highlights some of our local industry talent: on-screen and behind-the-scenes, established and up-and-coming.

My name is Zeppelin Zeerip, and no, I wasn’t named after the band. As for my occupation, I’m a filmmaker, though that’s just one component. I work for Field Work Creative and my day to day is all over the board. Some days it’s fundraising or pitching potential brand partners on a project, while other days it can be creating decks, putting together storyboards, or running down to the desert to get some last minute b-roll. Often times I’m in the field, producing or directing, which lately has meant that I’m on the side of a mountain or in a public lands cow pasture. My other interests and passions are snowboarding, environmental activism, climbing, building furniture and running.

Is this career path something you always wanted to pursue, and how did you initially get into the industry?

It wasn’t actually something I had ever considered until myself and some friends began making a film in college. What started as a small student project grew and morphed into a feature-length documentary that ended up on Red Bull TV. That initial film really provided the platform to start a career in film and taught me very quickly the ins and outs of filmmaking.

Can you tell us about your experience, both living and working in Utah?

Living and working in Utah has been an incredible experience. The access to the mountains is why I moved to Salt Lake City and it’s what continues to keep me here today. I get to snowboard five days a week and still be fully immersed in filmmaking. Working here has been great because although we don’t have a huge film industry, we’ve got a tight-knit film community that is very supportive. SLC is almost the perfect city, with one exception – the air quality.

What projects do you currently have going on?

For the past two years, I’ve been producing and co-directing a feature-length documentary on public lands that will release this spring. I’ve worked almost solely on this one film for two years, it’s been all consuming with everything that has been going on in Utah and nationally with our public lands. You can look for it this spring on the festival circuit.

My other project is Field Work. I started it to shed light on the most critical environmental and social issues. The idea is for it to be a collective of the most talented filmmakers who are equally passionate about using film and storytelling as a tool for good. We’ll absolutely do commercial work to pay the rent, but in a world that is burning down around us, I want to get to the finish line and proudly tell my kids that I did everything in my power to make the world a better place.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

I’ve sailed across the Atlantic and spent eight months living and working aboard a yacht.

What advice would you give to a local who is trying to get into the industry?

Just make a film. Whether it’s two minutes long or an hour long, the barriers to entry are lower than ever and anyone can do it. Send it to friends and family for critique. Get your friends to help film in their free time. Submit it to local festivals. There’s nothing that can help you determine whether film is the right career or not as fast as actually making a film. Almost no one that I work with went to film school, we all just learned by doing hands-on work.

As the founder of Family Dinner, can you tell us a bit about the event?

Family Dinner is exactly that. It’s a family dinner style event to bring together Utah’s film community. There are a variety of get-togethers for filmmakers in Utah, but I wanted to create something that was open and inclusive to people across all spectrums of film. We get together every other month at a different restaurant to catch-up, discuss our film projects, and enjoy each other’s company. There is no agenda, no speakers, and no pressure. All you’ve got to do is show up.

How can people get involved?

If you’d like to attend Family Dinner, you can email me at zeppelin@fieldworkcreative.us for more information and details on the next event! We’ve got one coming up November 28th.

Syd Smoot is the Film Office Coordinator at the Utah Film Commission. She’s a Utah native and studied cinema studies at Northeastern University. For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission at filmpress@utah.gov.