Keepers of the Faith – an interview with MilSim Media’s Dan C
It’s undoubtedly recognized in our past time that it’s a visually aesthetic driven endeavor.
It’s for the most part a truly positive endeavor, we spend countless hours tuning our blasters, building our kits, spending thousands in the pursuit of enjoyment – it’s a good thing to record it all for posterity.
On our radar for sometime MilSim Media, a media collective who’ve specialized in capturing Plastic Deth at its finest, supporting large events delivering professional photography and video coverage – as well as advertising and promotional work alongside LBX, Enola Gaye, Robo Apparel and more besides …
S23: Dan, thanks for coming aboard – we’ll open up with a little history, back story if you will. When and how did you get involved with ‘Plastic Deth‘ (Airsoft/MilSim)
DC: I started playing Airsoft in 2006. I got into the hobby coming from a professional console gaming career. Playing in both ladder board systems, online tournaments and various tournaments in different states. The team I started (Perpetual Ownage) was among the top 10 professional teams on Xbox live and MLG Pro Circuit before the merge of Gamebattles and MLG. CoD2, CoD4 ranking second out of 18,000 teams on the leaderboards, Rainbow Six Vegas 1 & 2, Shadow Run, Gears of War 1, and various other games) At that competitive level the thinking was it would be an easy transition into Airsoft/MilSim. My first “big” game/Op was Operation Desert Vanguard II in Hardwood, Texas at Tactical Paintball in 2008. After that game my team I started in Louisiana was immediately “hooked” on this style of gameplay.
S23: Likewise, your incredible work with MilSim Media has certainly raised the bar, and for sure gone a long way to recording for posterity some incredible moment in American MilSim. What can you tell us about your media background?
DC: I felt like I was born with a camera in my hand, At the age of 5 when I learned to operate my dad’s 35mm Canon AE-1 it was something I was always attached to. Growing up I was always in some artistic mind set, As I got older and I started skateboarding and all my friends were in bands, I was that guy working the merch booth and photoing the show. I wanted to go to school for Video Graphic and Design but there were no programs in my area for such a thing.
The plan was to go to school in Louisiana and get my general education classes done and transfer to an out of state college in Texas to follow Video Game design. I was always fascinated by album art and flyer designs from movies to music.
I decided to scrap the idea of making video games because mathematics was not my favorite thing, finding out the extend of math for building and designing games I knew I would end up not enjoying it as much as I thought. I ended up staying in Louisiana and putting my focus on visual art and design. That is what lead me to Commercial Art. I started that major in 2007 and had graduated with an Associates Degree in Commercial Art in 2010. The love for photography started in the “Dark Room” watching images come to life in a solution. My photography teacher wasn’t really one to hand out compliments of your work.
He always had positive things to say about my composition and it pushed me to be the best in the class and keep outdoing each image. (competition is welcomed in my life because it is the push to get getting better and not being stagnant) When I was in college I took advantage on my screen printing class and ended us screen printing out team logo into polo shirts, dead rags, compression shirts, and soft gun cases. From there I know I would end up on some graphic level of marketing and design. Never thought it would take me where it and MilSim Media has.
Ive shot behind the scenes and portrait headshots for Pepsi, worked on set as a photographer and other roles for various independent films, movie screenings, contracted at venues to cover live music, free lancework with multiple publications and magazines. The list is endless. I was meant to be a photographer in this life.
S23: So what’s the ethos behind MilSim Media, how did its inception come about?
DC: I always admired Dave Bak’s work as I was a since I was a novice in the photography world of Airsoft. I was gaining followers as a player/personality and I wanted to create something bigger than an individual or a single person.
One day over some lunch and beers I was expressing this idea to Robby Russo (Co-owner and Co-Creator of Milsim Media) It kinda started with the conversation of well who’s watermark do we put on what image. Russo was there since the beginning of my Airsoft gaming career and he’s the reason along with Bo Stewart that I got back into the hobby. He was picking up still photography a little more as he was always into videography more.
So the idea was to create something bigger than us something the community needed, As there was really just AO Dave and AO Tom … I wanted our idea to be a unified approach that would stretch to eventually cover all aspects and games or Airsoft and MilSim. Since our focus was media of Airsoft and MilSim it just kind of clicked… from that, MILSIM MEDIA was born. From that moment we used my connections and relationships in the industry to start with a running sprint.
I ran the local field called Ironsight Airsoft in Lake Charles, Louisiana that was owned by Russo and Bo Stewart. I just wanted to be on the same level as Airsoft Obsessed. So I continued to push myself more and more. Taken time off work as much as I could to attend as many games as possible. MilsimWest was only doing west coast games and the last time I attended a Lion Claws game was in 2008. (just wasn’t my cup of tea to say the least) I had already known Bo aka Silva from playing Airsoft from the beginning and Frosty from Frosty & Claymore games like Oklahoma Invasion, Rick Kastner because that’s the site I started my online purchases from Kastaway Airsoft …
I already had a great relationship and personally knew the three of the four owners of AMS from my beginning days. I personally have made it to 24+ American Milsim Games which has helped getting me as a player out there and seeing the same friendly folks. Back to the original question though.
I want to have Milsim Media everywhere. People under the MM banner in every country where Airsoft and MilSim is happening. The Goal is to be the media company for everything MilSim, EVERYWHERE!
S23: You’ve additionally done some very cool work with the industry, what’s the expectation from these collaborations – what’re they seeking to achieve when the approach MilSim Media with a brief or idea ?
DC: I think a mutually benefiting middle ground, how can we as MM help you market your product. We are an unbiased media group looking to test and play with new gear and replicas. If it’s not good for the consumer we won’t back it. We want to get hands on the product, use it in games, let others use the blaster since we are like the middle man.
What I personally like doesn’t mean the person following our page will. There are too many reviews and video unboxing style content of everything out there and it’s been our main goal to not fall into that category. We start off by purchasing out of our own pocket the products or items from the companies or distributor we like. Too many people are wanting handouts and if you really know the industry side, then you wouldn’t expect everything for free from everyone. Our outlook is to prove that you are worth working with.
Show the company you are not taking anything for granted from them. And the representatives of the companies we work with are some of my closest friends. Outside of Airsoft. They are people just like you.
s23: Now, thankfully your not always stuck behind the camera and still get out to drop some Plastic Deth. we’re big gear heads here, talk us through some of your load outs and blasters as they stand today ?
DC: My favorite ‘blasters’ among others as you call them would have to be still my Oppenheimer Builds. (sad to see them no longer in the hobby or game) but I own three and they have out shot multiple PTW’s over the years. This year I will be giving my Salient Arms EMG GRY from some love. You will see me use this gun A LOT this year. I did have it rebuilt from the ground up by a really close friend of mine Ryan Dean of Phatco Customs. Dropped a BTC Spectre in there and about 380 dollars in internal upgrades to be a MilSim spec build. Its easily shooting 250+ feet.
Just got my hands on the ASG CZ Bren A2 carbine which I’m really looking forward to running here soon. Highly impressed with the G&G products coming out now as well. They’re a truly is a great company to work with. They have some of the better out of the box guns for the price range in my opinion. Classic Army is a name that was huge when I was first playing and is now making a slow comeback. Their guns are great for beginning to intermediate players as well. My gear is 90% LBX or LBT. For the price, it’s the best for your average MilSim’er. I literally have eight plate carriers from them.
Five of them being one off prototypes or extremely RARE to find. I own each set on camo LBX has put out and wouldn’t recommend anything else. LBX is Love, LBX is Life. LBT of course would be my go to but I’m not an LEO nor do I have a military background that is why I choose to support the LBX line from LBT. Now I do have multiple kits and gear but if you ever see a photo of me and I’m not rocking RUSFOR gear then you will see a lot of LBT and LBX.
Mas Grey is hands down my favorite. Hell it took my 2 years to hunt down the Vans SK8 HI LBT tagged Mas Grey shoes and I’ve only brought myself to wear them once when I went to LBT’s head office in Virginia Beach!
My least favorite Camo for MilSim and airsoft is without a doubt Mulitcam. It works amazingly in real work application but it’s a little too much of a combination of both when you have a predominately Green Vs. Tan format. Arid is solid but not easily obtained. The overseas knock off colors don’t help my hatred for Multicam. Brand new it’s too green, third party the colors are too green and too brown. Lets just all agree people need to go back to DCU or chocolate chip! (laughs)
S23: You’ve captured some incredible moments on film, what’re are you looking for to capture the feel of a particular event, is it in part just serendipity?
DC: Solid action shots are most definitely challenging, when doing video we started off doing a little different format that hasn’t been used in the hobby in quite sometime. I would like to think our Milsim West Defense at Grozny video starting a snow ball effect on the documentary style footage and the ever-growing press kits that are becoming more common in here the states. I don’t want to be another montage reel of video clips. I want it to be artistic and enjoyable to the small portion on serious milsim players. It needs to be entertaining but be something that is our own.
S23: Visually, we spend no end of time photographing teams, blasters, our gears – recording hours and hours of action in game. This has been divisive of late, with some criticizing it’s all a little vain. What’s your perspective?
DC: In this digital age we have the advantage of shooting more. It is better to overshoot than not have enough. You can always delete unwanted images but you can’t fabricate them out of thin air. Some goes with footage. There are some days I find more joy in the hobby without having a camera. Of course the most insane moments happen when you are not recording and you get to just enjoy the game for what it is FUN.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. – Ansel Adams
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. – Henri Cartier-Bresson
DC: I noticed its doing the same as people before me did for the way I see my art and my passion of this hobby intertwine. Like I stated before I was inspired by a person and now he’s a very close friend of mine. We actually created a group together where we share our visual work airsoft and non airsoft related to push us to become better. I could not be more thankful to know some of these talented people and call myself one of the brothers on our visual adventure. We call ourselves the Visual Brotherhood. Our group consists of Dave Baks, Lauren Short, Brian Clarkson, Matt Hafley, and Roger Mosqueda.
S23: You’ve recently undertaken a position with Smoke and Pyro giants Enola Gaye, tell us a little more about your involvement and what your seeking to achieve working with them?
DC: First off these guys have been family to me. To take a seat in the position and to focus my efforts into what I love is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I usually have so many projects going on that I’m involved with that I never have enough time to focus and put that focus on the job at hand. I have been here for less than a month and my artistic mindset has sky rocketed. I have taken on the art direction for the US side of Enola Gaye. If it wasn’t for my relationship with them and in a way through MM I’m not sure I would be here right now. I took a major change in life to move out here and help this amazing company full of superb individuals to help them grow. Omar is the brother I never had. Seriously have all the love in the world for him. Kris is the hype man, he makes everything fun and has the energy I wish I could portray daily. Darren is the brainy creative guru. Its no wonder why him and Omar are killing the patch game with Who Shot First LLC. I want to help make us grow on the visual side of things as a brand to consumers. People that know me really understand how passionate I get into things. I feel like I bring that comfortable level of taking with someone from the company but as a player and a person that generally cares about the hobby and our unique players in it. We all have different day jobs but at the end of the day we all have a common ground … Plastic Deth . Slingin’ plastic BB’s at one another. Everyone takes it to a different degree. Speedsoft, Airsoft, MilSim, full LARPING immersion … And the end of the day its all the same when it comes down to shooting plastic at one another. Lets face it, if everyone had blank guns what fun would that be. There would no consequence to action …
Check out Dan’s latest EG promo here: https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=GZtxV2BUDdg
S23: … before we let you go, really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ?
DC: I’m not opposed to it. But it would not be something I would want to run every game or at every event, this is coming from the mentality that this is a game of fun and honor. Which some people tend to forget and let egos over take the hobby that is ours. Me personally I like mag and ammo restrictions. It brings a more realistic aspect to the game and allows the importance of maneuvers and tactics to take over. But that style of gameplay is not for everyone or for the person starting out. Play all types of Airsoft is my look. I love the MSW experience but its not something I want to go every weekend or twice a month. Airsoft is more that the game itself it’s the relationship with people and the hangout session on and off the field that makes it so great to me. I have my family which I don’t particularly feel that close to and then there’s my Milsim Family which I’m always happy and fortunate to see at every game. Friends and Fun. That’s airsoft and milsim for me. This has been a lot of fun sitting here and reflecting on how I see our hobby. I call it hobby, because it’s not a sport and I personally choose not to use that word. It’s something we all do in our spare time.
You can check out more on MilSim Media here:
MM Web: http://milsimmedia.net/
MM Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milsimmediamilsim/
MM Instagram: http://instagram.com/milsimmedia
MM Enola Gaye: http://www.enolagaye.com/
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