I was anxious to speak with (should’ve been award winning) Dendrite Studios for a few reasons.
I wanted to learn about what goes on a ski and snowboard videoÂ shoot, How was heli skiing some fantastic pillows in Canada with TLH Heliskiing? And third,Â how did the new Epic Planks Crop Duster’s ski, since I have only seen pics of them and have not actually skied them yet.
AthanÂ Merrick, co-owner of Dendrite and filmographer, said there are many components that need to be coordinated for a successful shoot. It really helps when you have understanding and patient skiers and snowboarders who understand their roles. Its not as easy as getting in a helicopter and just flying to the top of the mountain.Â Then,Â everyone unloading, skiing down and hoping the person filming got a good shot.
First off, there needs to be a good game plan with concrete goals for the day. The plan also accounts for all aspects of getting the athletes and crew into and out ofÂ remote mountains and wilderness with limited resources and time.
Then, terrain reconnaissance by the filmographers, skiers and guides. This needs to done for a few reasons. One is to find out what terrain and obstacles are available to ski and snowboard. Also,Â the terrain needsÂ create a some good flow from line to line.
Then the guides need to give the final sign off as they are the safety net for the athletes and crew. The guides are taking into consideration the pitch of the run, recent snowfall, temperature fluctuations, exposure of the face and familiarity with the region.
Another reason for scoping out the descent possibilitiesÂ is so the film crew can get into the right positions to shoot from the bestÂ optical vantage point.
To finish it off,Â some patient skiers and snowboarders who know where they are supposed to start and finish their lines are really beneficial. Then actually following through with aforementionedÂ once they are course.
I don’t think I would be good at being the athlete / skier, since it would be excruciating for me to be hanging out and waiting for the film crew to get into position andÂ set up knowing where I was. There is almost limitless fresh and deep powder waiting to be ripped!
ForÂ Dendrite’s shootÂ at TLH, one of the “issues” that came up was the amount of powder days. Apparently there too many.Â Dendrite wasÂ counting on more sunny days. Â With the sun,Â they could have good lighting while shooting charging skiers who were nailing some big lines. So, I guess it is possible after allÂ to have too much snow.
Athan moved to Vancouver to attend a top 5 film college, so its no wonder that he’s so good at his craft. Now he spends his off-seasons in Vancouver while spending his Winter’s in the Whistler backcountry filming whenever he has the chance.
Last yearÂ Athan and his partner NicolasÂ entered the prestigious Intersections Film Festival with their entry, Parallels – A Short Film.Â I’m not sureÂ how this videoÂ was topped. Â In seven days, Athan & Nicolas slept a total of 20 hours. Watch the film (see below) asÂ it is amazing for a production release, let alone with with time constraints, rules and massive sleep deprivation.
Prior toÂ becoming a filmographer, Athan participated in ski competitions. While viewing Dendrite’s portfolio, I asked him who all the skiers were. HeÂ remarked, “many of themÂ are me”. So with Athan’s experience, he surely has a skier’s perspective while lining up his shots.
Athan was impressed with TLH and the terrain that they access. TLH is locatedÂ Northeast of Vancouver andÂ the terrain sits on the boarder of the coast range and the Fraser Plateau. What this means is there’s an abundance of moisture, but the snow is light and fluffy. Sounds like the perfect confluence of weather and terrainÂ to establish a heli ski operation.
Also, the TLH guides proved their mettle and nowÂ are even more respected by both the film crew and skiers and snowboarders. Athan mentioned thatÂ during the shoot, there was an athlete’s uncontrolledÂ fall coupled with a slough inÂ a steep chute. Instantaneously, the Guides were in action. No hesitation, no perplexity and the situation was stabilized rapidly. Just what you want from the saftey crew.
As for the Epic PlankÂ CropÂ Duster’s, they apparently were aÂ big hit. That is saying something asÂ this wasn’t your average heli ski group rollingÂ through TLHÂ on a 5 day tour. These were top notch skiers whoÂ were pushing themselves andÂ their equipment to the limit. Dropping big air and crushing gnarly lines is their job. They need skis that can help them excel in these rad venues. The Epic Planks were up to the task.
For the upcoming season, Dendrite will be branching out and making some webisdodes and are trying to follow up their 2010 film Out of the Shadows with another full length video.