Becoming a Leader

By Carmen McSpadden
Leadership can be an intimidating concept when you’re still trying out majors or formulating a career path. Yet, with a small and supportive class environment, the literary shoulders of giants to stand on, and local leaders as mentors and role models, a whole generation of MSU students are coming into their own—and empowered by an MSU certificate program that rewards students who think for themselves and do the things that they dream of doing.
The MSU Leadership Fellows certificate program (LF) does just this, adding value to all MSU degrees. The program incorporates self-study, service work, and experiential education to empower students to become positive agents of change. Every semester, the students’ “Personal Leadership Plans” tell the story further.

Innovative MSU programs tap into students’ potential to lead.
One student fellow supplemented her study of books by leaders such as Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton with an initiative to make the MSU campus smoke-free. Two students grew their non-profit Tias y Tios organization by enlisting other students to help support the children of Spanish speakers new to the area. A Sustained Dialogue chapter, designed to air out contentious issues, emerged when several students identified a need and worked to make it a reality. These are just a few examples of how students are merging their interests with a new understanding of themselves as leaders.

Montana State University student Michael Edwards talks during a presentation by MSU Leadership students.
Becoming an MSU Leadership Fellow during your undergraduate or graduate education is a straightforward process. Take the three-credit “Leadership Foundations” seminar, the three-credit Leadership Capstone seminar (recommended for senior or junior year), and 12 leadership electives from a list of over 150 approved courses. Easily tailored to fit any major, LF recently added a one-credit “Leadership Exploration” class for first-year students.
To get involved in the MSU Leadership Fellows Program, contact Carmen McSpadden at or visit

A Guide to Filming Action Sports

By Duncan Williamson

Do you ogle your friends’ YouTube videos? Dream about being a powder-ripping star? With the accessibility of inexpensive cameras suitable for shooting action sports, it seems that everyone these days has a YouTube account, hoping to impress their friends and get millions of views. You may be asking, how do you separate yourself from the pack? Here’s a quick guide to getting ahead in the oversaturated world of amateur action-sports cinematography.

Step 1: the Right Camera
Any one of a dozen different cameras will suffice in the quest to become the next great action-sports filmmaker. But the right one for you is harder to find. First off, consider cost-effectiveness. Don’t go spending thousands of dollars on a camera with features you’ll never use and that will leave you too broke to actually get out and film. The perfect camera will match your budget and fit your skills at making videos. GoPro is the most popular choice, with a wide selection of options, ranging from $200 to $400 – can’t really go wrong here. GoPro even has a omplete package that will do, and go, wherever you need. 

If you’re on a tight budget, the Contour Roam is the way to go. With a few different trim levels, it can do most of the necessary technical things you will need as a beginner. The best part about the Contour is you can find it for discounted prices. 

In the end, it is up to you, but my suggestion would be a Contour for the beginning action filmmaker, and a GoPro for the next Red Bull athlete. 

Now Let’s Make A Movie
So you have a good camera and you want to go out and make a badass video. First make sure you have the essential accessories. Extra battery packs are always a good idea, especially for those long days on the slopes. The most avoidable problem is running out of battery life before you get the best trick of the day. Second, you need camera mounts. One of the best ways to ruin a video is with shaky, badly focused or directed shots. Also, make sure you have the right attachments for your camera. Both the GoPro and the Contour make a whole slew of mounts and attachments to get every shot you could imagine

Now let’s shoot. As YouTube videos attest, the first-person view is popular. With a simple chest or helmet mount, you can capture awesome footage that will make you feel like you’re right there doing it when you watch it. Don’t stick too much to one type of shot. Get creative with the mounts. Find cool angles and interesting ways to capture the action. And don’t be afraid to poach ideas from other videos – copying styles you like is good practice and will teach you what you like and don’t like, which is integral to developing your own unique style.

Time to Edit
Once you’ve completed a killer day filming, its time to put a video together. You can do this with simple programs like iMovie for Mac, and Windows Movie Maker for PC. The first step is finding an epic song that fits your footage – play around with different songs and styles until you have something that matches the pace and tone of the day. Once you have a song picked, start editing. Make sure you cut to the music, or in other words, make it fit. This will make awesome shots look even better when they go along with the music. Don’t forget to play with editing and vary the speeds of shots or transitions. If you’re new to editing, don’t get fancy – just make a simple, clean-cut video. Get creative after you’ve got some experience under your belt. 
Photo by Ryan Krueger

After all this is done, you should now have a YouTube-worthy video to show off to your friends. The best thing about this is that with a very low budget you can make awesome videos and progress your skills as both a filmmaker and an athlete.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll whip up a video worthy of the Coldsmoke Awards or the Backcountry Film Festival. Get your gear, set your plans, and get out there!


GoPro YouTube Page

Duncan Williamson’s pages: