It is with a heavy heart that the The Ski Channel reports the death of one of our own. Brent Butzke, 27, was a talented cinematographer, passionate flyer and an overall great human being. On Tuesday, November 20th we lost Brent in a tragic flying accident. The avid aerial enthusiast was piloting a motorized paraglider near the Santa Clara River in Ventura County when witnesses say the aircraft became distressed and fell from the sky. First responders performed emergency first aid, but to no avail. Butzke was pronounced dead at the scene, with a subsequent autopsy citing blunt-force trauma as the cause.
“I remember laughing with him when we would edit together. When something clicked and we knew we had gold, we would burst into laughter, enjoying the moment.
~ Selma Al-Faqih
Producer, The Ski Channel
Since the early days at The Ski Channel, Brent played a pivotal role in the development of its film, television and online production endeavors. As the Operations Manager, Brent brought his unique vision and style to the company’s various media projects. Anyone who had the honor of working alongside him appreciated that he was one of the most creative minds to ever cross our threshold.
Brent had an uncanny knack for picking out the most interesting elements in an ocean of footage, and then putting it all together in remarkable ways. He took a great deal of pride in coloring images to enhance the viewer experience, and his mark as a colorist is clearly evident in both “The Story” (2010) and “Winter” (2011) feature film projects. Quite possibly the best part about working with Brent was the simple joy he took in tossing on pair a of headphones, and just jamming out to the music while he did his thing.
“Brent Butzke was an amazing human being and the backbone of much of what we programmed at The Ski Channel and The Surf Channel. On the film, “Winter,” Brent poured himself into the project as deeply as one could pour themselves into anything. He colored every single frame of the film, and was responsible for many of the editing and music choices. It was during this period that he became exposed to some of the most amazing human flight footage that has ever been shot. Fortunately or unfortunately, that footage motivated him to try speed flying.”
“Brent was so smart, so technical, so pragmatic and so aware of what could go wrong. He is one of the guys you’d be confident would have it all dialed in and a plan for every problem. Whether he was shooting, editing, directing, re-booting servers…he was a whiz. This is a very sad day for all of us. So much of The Ski and Surf Channel’s programming will be a tribute to him and an inspiration to others for decades.”
~ Steve Bellamy
CEO & Founder, The Ski & Surf Channels
Working in action sports takes a certain breed of individual. Typically, one does not embark upon a career in the industry without possessing a sincere passion for extreme sport and adventure. Brent fit the bill to a “T”. He loved to push the envelope, and explore what he was capable of. He was a snowboarder, a skateboarder, a surfer, motorcyclist and flew paragliders Brent was a wild guy, but never was one to brag about his exploits. You could of course inquire about his weekend flying excursions, to which he would simply smile and reply, “It was amazing.” After looking through photos of his various exploits, there’s no question about it. This guy lived his life to the fullest, right up until the very end.
The world has lost an amazing individual. While his time with us was cut tragically short, Brent Butzke was able to touch a lot of lives in very positive ways. He will live on our memories and through the cinematic projects he leaves behind. In the end, we can take solace in the knowledge that Brent left this world while pursuing something he loved. We should all be so lucky.
Rest in peace, Brent.