For Jeff Hyer, life looks best behind the lens.
After finding his niche making videos with his friends in middle school, the Whitefish High School senior took his passion from home movies to the next level. He has made homecoming videos for the high school, promotional videos for the Whitefish School District and videos for several local businesses.
The homecoming videos were the start of his reputation as a filmmaker, he said.
“When I was a sophomore I started making a homecoming video just because I wanted to do something different and new,” he said. “The videos for those things are always super boring, so I just went for it because I could.”
“It was cool this year because I really got to showcase the seniors,” he added.
Hyer’s work for Whitefish schools include student handbook videos and a short documentary on the issues Muldown Elementary School teachers face every day in an aging building.
Also a photographer, Hyer’s wide variety of interests and experiences include serving as president, vice president and treasurer for student council, participating in DECA and going on AFS trips.
His love for making movies originally began as a way to have fun with his friends, and those friends still are the primary cast and crew of his projects now.
One side of making movies he’s come to appreciate is writing, he said.
“I write a lot even if I don’t plan on making it into a movie, but I always write with the thought of what it would look like in a movie,” he said. “Whatever I’m capable of doing, that’s what I’ll do.”
After graduating on June 3, Hyer will embark on a summer adventure with his sister and brother. Three days after graduation he’ll head out to visit friends in Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria before a week in England. Afterwards he’ll head out to Greece and Egypt.
Then he’ll likely start college at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, though he admits he’s still not sure what his future will hold.
However, he knows he’d certainly like to follow in the footsteps of one of his heroes, Jack Hanna, a zookeeper and wildlife personality.
Hyer’s early love for zoos and wildlife got him on Big Valley Radio as a host of Jungle Jack’s Zooniacs, a kids-oriented radio program focused on learning about animals.
The program travels to zoos around the country and interviews animal experts to learn about different creatures most people haven’t heard about.
Through Zooniacs, Hyer has had the chance to work with Hanna on and off for the last six years when Hanna visits his home in Bigfork.
While Hyer’s time on the radio program is ending, he’s sending a mockumentary he made last year to Hanna and hoping their paths will cross again in the future.
The combination of zoology and film seems like the ideal life for Hyer.
“Being Jack Hanna would be the ultimate goal,” he said with a wide smile.