BD athlete Angel Collinson reports on filming trip to British Columbia with Sherpas Cinema
Black Diamond athlete Angel Collinson grew up just up the hill from Black Diamond HQ at Snowbird Ski Resort. Since she could stand up on skis, she's been shredding around the Wasatch, and the past year has taken her from the world of competitive freeskiiing to filming with two of the biggest names in ski media. Below is Angel's report from a recent trip she took this winter to British Columbia to film for the upcoming Sherpas Cinema release Into The Mind, which comes out in Fall 2013.
Whether we are ready for it or not, the earth spins and time continues, bringing a change of seasons and a change in rhythms. Some animals burrow, some fly south, some grow thicker coats, and some like me grin like fools and slap bindings on their skis. Barely ready, in late November my brother and I finished a house we built with our mom and dad. Wrapping up a 3 year project brought a sense of accomplishment and a welcome shift in focus. Birds leaving the nest, my brother and I moved into this new house together and welcomed winter, wondering where our flight patterns would take us this new season.
I've been skiing since I was 2, which is before I can really remember. I competed in ski racing from when I was 8 until when I was 18. Then I decided to follow skiing down a different path and entered the Freeskiing World Tour, and competed in big mountain skiing from when I was 19 until I was 21. Competition has always been my focus and the way I've expressed myself through skiing. This winter, at 22, I've stepped into a new realm. Two major film companies, Sherpas Cinema and Teton Gravity Research, asked if I could film this winter with them. After quite a bit of thought, I put competing on hold and decided I like skiing sunny powder more than flat-light crud.
To bring in the new year I headed up to British Columbia for a 2 week trip with Sherpas Cinema to film for their upcoming release, "Into the Mind." See the trailer here. Our first location was at Snowwater Heli, a heliskiing/cat operation just outside of Nelson, BC. The crew was small-Dave Mossop, producer/cinematographer extraordinaire, photographer Bryan Ralph, fellow BD athlete Callum Pettit, and myself. We were up early the first morning and started out filming from the helicopter, with a sunrise session catching the pink light in the Kootenays. It was similar to my previous film experience, my trip with TGR up to AK last spring (see it here), where they film an entire line from the helicopter, from the top of a peak all the way down the bottom, and that's the shot. It's similar in many ways to competition skiing, where the entire run counts, and you establish a flow that starts at the beginning and continues the whole way down. You get a turn or two at the start to get things warmed up. This isn't the only way to film skiing though-often times, if there is weather and you can't fly the heli, or if you aren't filming from a helicopter, you do what are called "on-slopes", where the cameraman is on the slope with you, and usually it's only a short section of a line. Sometimes it's just one cliff, sometimes it's just one turn.
These on-slopes were a new thing for me, bringing unexpected challenges. Someone just described to me those one-turn, immediate moment shots like this: Pretend you are a house cat. You have nothing to do all day, you lay around in the sunshine, being still and motionless. But as soon as you see that bird or that mouse, you have to pounce as quick as lightning. No time to warm up. Just BAM. Immediately ready. That's what your skiing has to be like. No turns, no time to get in the rhythm. Just your full athleticism and potential unleashed by the click of the camera shutter.
For the next part of the journey, Callum, Mossop, and I headed over to Valhalla Powder Cats, a catskiing operation an hour and a half away from Snowwater. We met up with some more filmers and another athlete, David Porscheron. One of the coolest things about working with the Sherpas is their vision for the shots. They've got a very clear idea of the kind of shots they want in their movie, and it's obvious when you watch their movies that this vision is what it takes to create the standout movies that they produce. However, it also means they take a lot of time to set the shots up, and often times each athlete would only get like 3 shots in per day. That adds a lot of pressure to each time you go, because if you mess the shot up in any way-time it wrong, turn a little bit in the wrong spot from where the cameras are pointed, have bad technique- that moment is ruined and all the time spent setting it up was in vain.
It was clear that both Callum and David have had a lot of practice with on-slope filming, and they are both super talented riders. It was an honor to work with them and watch and learn from them. They are well-practiced house cats. The last day of the trip, my brother John who is also filming with the Sherpas drove over from Revelstoke to start his trip with them, and we had a sibling shred/film day. It was one of the coolest days of my life. I showed him my newly aquired expert sledding skills and we got to ski a couple lines together. The camera's were on an opposing ridge so they had a clear shot of our full lines and we all got to have the first long film lines in awhile (yay!) David and Callum picked lines off of one ridge, and John and I skinned another 45 minutes out the ridge together to a sub-ridge with lines we had picked out the night before from pictures. Standing at the top with my brother and some sunshine, endorphins out and smiles high, we got to send each other off with the cameras rolling. Every sister's dream, right?
The next stop for me is Terrace, in Northern British Columbia, for a shoot for next years Black Diamond digital catalog! Stay tuned for a trip report from "The Land of the Pillows."