Local man turns ‘wanderlust’ into filmmaking career, GoPro Million Dollar Challenge award


As South Haven’s Brandon Rieck continues to develop his own personal wanderlust into a successful filmmaking career, his creative output is now being recognized on a worldwide scale.

Rieck was recently announced as one of 55 people in 21 countries to win GoPro’s 2023 Million Dollar Challenge. The competition selected clips filmed with the GoPro HERO11 camera, and chose Rieck’s clip from a pool of over 40,000 clips.

Each creator received $18,181.81 for their winning submission.

In the video announcing the winners, released in late April, Rieck’s footage of kayakers on a waterfall can be seen at 1:22:

Passion project

After growing up in South Haven, Rieck said his passion for the outdoors and videography developed while studying at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

“There’s all these different waterfalls and fun hikes and cool views and camping,” said Rieck, of the Upper Peninsula. “I thought it was one of the coolest things, uh, that I didn’t realize was a part of Michigan. So, I always wanted to share that with my friends and family and just kind of fell into shooting video and finding a lot of fun and the creativity that allowed me.”

While studying to be in the field of athletic training, Rieck said he began to look into what kind of professions he could pursue with his newfound passion. During his third year at NMU, he decided to step away and pursue video production full time.

“That just kind of blossomed into a nice career for me,” he said. “Just making different connections and always kind of favoring the extreme sports sides of things. That always gets me excited – finding the best as the best athletes in their individual sports.”

Rieck eventually started Wanderlust Imagery, which he uses as a creative base for his projects while he seeks out new ways to express his creativity through video – especially with his FPV drone.

He also offers his skills for wedding film projects.

The winning clip

During a trip to Mexico, Rieck filmed a group of kayakers with his FPV drone as they cascaded down a waterfall in Mexico. He decided to submit about 20 clips for this year’s GoPro challenge after advancing during last year’s challenge.

“Hearing that some of my footage had gotten further into like the editing process, but didn’t make the final cut,” he said, of this year’s challenge. “That gave me some good hopes.”

Rieck said when he found out about the win, it was somewhat anticlimactic.

“I was out in another FPV shoot, for a promotion in L.A. and we’d gone out for drinks celebrating that night after a successful shoot,” he said. “before I saw the video, I had a couple notifications and, uh, it was from some friends congratulating me, so I had a bit of an idea, kind of passed out again, uh, and then woke up a little bit later to actually watch the video and confirmed that.”

Rieck said he will be using his earnings from the award for the conversion of a 1984 Ford box truck into an RV. Rieck said he, his wife and their newborn son will move into the truck and take it on the road to do more freelance video production.

See more of Rieck’s work at youtube.com/@wanderlustimagery8459.