As posted in the October 2011 issue of FREESKIER.
Words: Matt Harvey | Photos: Blake Jorgenson
From the moment the opening credits roll in Sherpas Cinema’s The Fine Line, you know you’re about to watch something different. And not in the cliché, “This ski movie is unlike any other!” kind of way. In an honest, artful way.
The Fine Line, Sherpas’ first major release and this year’s All.I.Can. are the fruits of over a decade of filmmaking labor for the Sherpas trio: Malcolm Sangster, Dave Mossop and Eric Crosland. The three have been shredding, making shorter films and edits and playing music together since meeting in high school in the 90s. In 2007, they officially incorporated Sherpas Cinema and have since gained recognition from the industry’s top athletes and companies.
“After seeing The Fine Line I was instantly a fan of the Sherpas,” says Mike Douglas, who visited Chile’s currently erupting Puyehue volcano with Sherpas and Salomon Freeski TV in 2009. “I love their creativity and attention to detail. In an era where it seems anyone can buy some fancy cameras and editing software, they are—and always will be—standouts.”
The Fine Line is technically an avalanche education film, but you won’t confuse it with any of the dull education films you watched in science class. The movie is shot with the same artistic intensity of any of today’s top movies and with a very personalized touch.
“In 1997, while in grade 12, we lost four very close friends to an avalanche near Fortress Mountain in Alberta, Canada,” explains Sangster. “During an unexpectedly dry preseason, all the hills were closed and our buds were hiking for some fresh lines prior to the resorts opening for the year, trying to satisfy that early season hunger. Uninformed, uneducated and unprepared, they were caught in an avalanche while hiking in close formation and killed. After years of young people continuing to die in avalanches we used film, the tool that was at our fingertips, to try and make a bit of a difference.”
It’s this passionate use of moving pictures plus the insane action, beautiful locales and high- budget filming methods that have set apart Sherpas and brought them to the limelight in relative short order.
“I think we’ve always just tried to build something with a little substance to it,” says Sangster. “A ski film that takes the viewer on a visual journey from start to finish and leaves them inspired. And when it comes to the educational and motivational films we’ve worked on, if that inspiration is born within the viewers themselves, then it’s far more convincing.”
Sherpas’ films also carry an environmental awareness undertone, which, like the company’s other messages, is intertwined in an impassioned, intricate way.
“We all want to make a positive difference towards the environment but can feel disempowered, confused and too small to make that difference,” says Sangster. “All.I.Can. takes a stance to dispel many misconceptions and provide hope, optimism and motivation for change by sharing our passions for the mountains with a passion for green initiatives and forward thinking.”
But it’s not all education and higher causes in All.I.Can. The action in huge, exotic mountains by an all-star cast—Kye Petersen, Callum Pettit, JP Auclair, Dana Flahr, Ingrid Backstrom, Mike Douglas, Mark Abma and many more—can’t be overlooked and is sure to draw big cheers from the movie premiere crowd. The highlight, says Sangster, is the aforementioned volcano segment.
“Accessing the peak via horseback, staying at a rustic refugio and slaying lines into the center of a perfect two-kilometer-wide caldera with 360 degrees of spines, chutes and cliffs…. The trip was unreal!” And now that Puyehue has exploded, those lines captured in the movie will never be the same again. “Folks can certainly expect a very different experience from your normal ski film: a personification of our planet, a look inside the individual and enough stoke to spark a riot!”
Visit sherpascinema.com to watch the trailer, get tour dates and learn more about Sherpas Cinema.