"The trip had no real plan to it and thus neither did the shots yet the film seems to fit together seamlessly: yes, it is a series of individual scenes, but there are strong themes running through the entire sequence tying each to the next. These strands are namely adventure and beauty but perhaps the one which makes the film so endearing is its human element: the emotive music playing as we watch the friends bond in the middle of the wilderness, that familiar feeling we have all felt where we know we are doing something spectacular; something we will remember forever."
-Anya Meyerowitz - The Plus Paper
In January 2016 I set off, on what was at that time, an unplanned and almost blind trip across the pond to BC, Canada.
I had flights booked in & then out, 2 months apart, but other than that I had nothing lined up. No transport booked, hostels booked or even a snowboard. I arrived in late January with my backpack & camera, from there I got in touch with a couple of friend who I knew of in Vancouver and they kindly put me up, showed me around and got my trip started pretty nicely.
From Vancouver I met another friend Joel who I spent a couple of weeks with in Bali in early 2015. Joel picked me up and we headed to Whistler for what turned out to be a pretty crazy few days with 30 of his friends from University; so that needs no elaboration, really. Not that there is any real recollection.
After Whistler we drove East to Kelowna where the previously mentioned group were all in University. I spent 10 days there, getting to know the area and the big social group I was just introduced to. Myself & Nic Collar, who Joel had just introduced me to, went up to Big White resort during the first few days of being in Kelowna, and thats where a lot of the crazy skiing footage was had, after finding the deepest powder I'd ever seen! Being from the UK, waist deep powder was pretty alien, so luckily Nic was there and could show off his insane skills on his skis. Hucking off drops & throwing in some massive powder turns for the camera.
After a great 10 days in Kelowna with everyone I managed to peel myself away and book a bus to head further East, to Banff; I was incredibly lucky to meet the people I did in the first 24hrs of being there. A combination of Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis & French. A winning mix it would seem! We had a great group of us there for that week, all on the same page, snowboarding-wise as well as general attitude which made for some great company on & off the slopes.
Once we'd had a good look around Banff, Lake Louise & Sunshine Village. I went South to Fernie, Red Mountain & Whitewater with my Kiwi buddy, Gav. We chased the snow around Southern BC for a week or so in his truck, and found the most incredible spots we'd ever seen! For both snow & landscape.
By this time, my return flight date was nearing pretty fast. So, I did the only reasonable thing, and cancelled my flight! Oops... I then extended my trip an extra couple of weeks longer than originally planned, and I am so glad I did that! I had the best 2 weeks of the whole trip during that time, with the best snow to date. I managed to visit Kicking horse & Revelstoke on my way back to Kelowna/Vancouver as well, which are both mind blowing resorts!
Upon returning to the UK in early March & piecing the film together over a couple of days, I got quite nervous about releasing it. Those whole 2 months of filming, making the effort every day to bring my camera out, get shots, go out of my way to make shots happen with various people, the days of hunting for the perfect music to accompany the visuals, the many messages from people saying how excited they were about seeing what I was going to produce. Cumulatively, it all made me a bit anxious about putting it out there.
Safe to say, I was utterly blown away by the response from everyone who watched it or had anything to say about the film. In the first 10 days of it being online, it'd be featured by Vimeo, Mpora and other websites. I'd had several emails asking to be a content creator for various sites, and asked to be interviewed a few times about the trip itself as well as the technical side of producing the film.
At this point, I realised it had all been worth it.
I was emailed by The Plus Paper & interviewed by Anya Meyerowitz, about my trip and the film. I was so touched by the words she had so kindly written after reviewing the film on their site. It summed up the trip so perfectly, and exactly how it was for me; better than I could ever have done with words. You can read the review & interview here:
Now the the nerdy, behind the scenes and some might say boring, bit.
For me, this aspect of the film was massively important & it seems to have drawn a lot of attention to the film online after people realising how it was shot & what equipment was (and wasn't) used.
The whole thing was shot on the Sony A7Smkii, 100% handheld. I used 4 lenses - Canon 50mm 1.4, 17-35mm 2.8, 100mm L Macro 2.8 & a Rokinon 85mm t1.5. As far as supports go, I used the neck strap on the A7S & a gorillapod for timelapses.
All the aerial footage was either from a scenic flight around Vancouver in a Harbour Air seaplane, or shot from chairlifts at various ski resorts. Countless people have asked me, what drones/helicopters etc were used to get the aerial shots, some people almost skeptical that I've used drone. But I can assure you, it's legit.
All the aerial footage was shot in 4K 25fps, something which I LOVE about the A7Smkii. The ability to crop in and still have usable footage is amazing. The rest of the footage shot in either 1080p 50fps or 100fps. All shot in Slog 2 & overexposed by 1.7 stops because of Sony's weird issue with exposure gauging in SLog.
For the edit I use Adobe Premier Pro CC - slightly temperamental at the moment with Adobe's updates being a little dodgy, but there are work around for glitches. Aside from the small issues, it's a great bit of software. My workflow looks something like the below. I use mainly lumetri to grade, with the RGB curves & colour wheels being used primarily for the base grade and corrections, followed by a LUT of choice and some tweaking with Film Convert Pro to finish off the filmic look. I also like to crop down to 1920x800 to add a more focused feel on whats important in the shot.