Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, sisters Nat and Anna Segal have been professional skiers for years now, but have taken completely different paths to success. Nat has focused on the big-mountain scene, competing in both the Freeride and Freeskiing World Tours, filming for Shades of Winter: Pure and receiving a National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant in 2014 for her work on the Shifting Ice and Changing Tides expedition. The expedition involved sailing to the west coast of Greenland to document the recession of glaciers, as well as ski first descents. Anna, on the other hand, has pursued slopestyle skiing, winning gold medals at the X Games, FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships and US Freeski Open, among other accomplishments. She also competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
But while their careers in professional skiing have led them down different paths, the two share a special bond as sisters, as well as a mutual love for the sport, which has brought them together to collaborate with filmmaker Bjarne Salén on their documentary film project, Finding The Line. The team has been shooting in Australia and Canada and plan to film in Alaska and France, as well. They also just started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of the film, which explains their goal to, “use their professional extreme skiing careers and mountain pursuits as a vehicle to better understand fear, and how to confront it.”
Below, read through a Q&A with the Segal sisters to learn more about the inspiration for their movie, where it has taken them so far and what they have learned along the way.
Q & A
First thing’s first: What was the inspiration for “Finding The Line?”
Nat: Anna and I had been talking about collaborating on a project and when the discussion of ski careers, successes and failures came up, we kept on butting our heads against the same thing—fear. The initial inspiration was born out of Anna and my shared frustration of how our fears were holding us back from reaching our full potential. I was also inspired by Mark Matthews’ [a pro surfer] documentary, Fighting Fear. It led me to realize how fear has a huge affect on my life and decision-making process in the mountains.
Anna: I think it began with Nat and I just wanting to ski more together. Then realizing that we had a lot to learn from each other, not just in terms of skiing skills, but also with how we approach skiing. I approach it with more of a gung-ho attitude, which has led to a long line of injuries. Nat has a far more calculated approach, but this has held her back from sending it when it counts. There has to be some kind of happy medium, which is what we want to figure out.
A lot of work goes into making a film. How did you two prepare?
Nat: I used to love my laptop. Now I dread it. We’ve been developing the project since last October and have spent the last year pitching the project to potential funders and on-ground supporters. We started collaborating with adventure film maker Bjarne Salén in November and together we have turned the project from a pitch on a piece of paper to a film in development. The project has come a long way since last year; we have a range of amazing partners and a much stronger story line, but we still have a long way to go. We have just put the final touches on a Kickstarter campaign, which we are hoping to use to fund the rest of the production costs and, if we have enough support, some of the post-production costs.
Anna: Like Nat mentioned, we have spent a lot of time brainstorming and workshopping the theme of fear. We have spent hours on end developing, then redeveloping the story arch, segments, interviews and how we want to approach the subject. The deeper we get into the topic, the more perspective we gain. The idea just keeps growing.
It’s pretty awesome that you two are sisters and professional skiers all at once. What has it been like working together?
Nat: It has been incredible. It’s stressful, no doubt—we have lots of disagreements and sibling squabbles—but I can’t imagine working with anyone else on such a big project like this. When there is an issue, we work it out with no hard feelings and I know that Anna is always going to put in as much hard work as me. I also love skiing with Anna, we have fun, when we are tired we just get silly and she pushes me to ski the best I can. If she tells me to go send it, I point my skis downhill and go for it. Working with Anna has made me a more confident skier and a better partner in crime.
Anna: Nat is one of my best friends and I respect her on so many levels. We have both known each other’s strengths and weaknesses from the very beginning. Our personalities are very different but complement each other well. If one of us is bugging the other, it is made very apparent. However, I think this has worked in our favor. We let it all out, have our argument, then the matter is done and dusted 10 minutes later.
You’ve already filmed in Australia and done some preliminary filming in Canada. What has the experience been like so far? Is it what you expected?
Nat: It has been eye opening. The majority of the skiing we have done so far has been done on foot by ski touring. So there are a lot of early mornings, lots of uphill and a lot of frustration when we crash or screw up on a line. Making the logistics, snow conditions and crew all come together has been hard but we have learned a lot and are in a really good position to start filming again this February in Canada. On the positive side, some of the moments we’ve had filming together have been amazing. Showing Bjarne the Australian mountains was really special.
Anna: It’s intense. Everyone works extremely hard while we’re shooting, not just on the hill, but also when we’re back home—brainstorming, planning, writing pitches, coordinating with sponsors, etc. It’s mentally and physically exhausting, but we all want to put in 100 percent and make the most of the time we have together. I knew it would be hard work, but I’ve never produced a film before therefore had no idea what to expect.
The film’s title, “Finding The Line,” seems to leave room for interpretation—finding a line to ski, as well as finding the line that one must cross to progress. What does it mean to you guys and how did you come up with it?
Nat: When we started brainstorming for this project it was quite focused on Anna and I as the feature. While we are still the main characters, we want the focus to be fear, risk and how different people confront these concepts. When I think of Finding The Line I imagine walking on a tightrope, trying to find a balance between taking risk in order to progress and being stagnant in your comfort zone. I also preferred it to one of the other options, “Fear Factory,” which if anyone decides to spoof us, I think would be a great title.
Anna: It’s a fine line. Sometimes your gut feeling is right and you should back away from the edge. But in other instances, the fear is due to your mind being in an irrational and negative space. It can be hard to know which situation you’re experiencing and, as Nat mentioned, Finding The Line represents the balance.
What has been the hardest part of making the film so far? Any unexpected challenges?
Nat: Funding. I don’t think either of us expected that funding the film would be easy, but it has been a much longer process than either of us anticipated. I have newfound respect for independent filmmakers. In saying that, we have had a lot of support so far and we’d like to give a big shout out to all our sponsors who have supported the film up to this point, everyone who has donated to our Kickstarter campaign (there are lots of cool prizes) and all the advice that has been given to us freely without anything expected in return.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
Nat: The main goals of the film are to encourage viewers to reflect on their fears and how they might be holding them back. It’s not necessary to confront all fears but that it is important to understand them, an idea we are exploring through the film. I hope it makes people more open about discussing fear and trying to understand how it affects them.
Anna: I hope viewers will look at their own fears in a different light. Not as something to be ashamed of, but as an emotion to be understood and evaluated. Is a particular fear there for a valid reason, or should it be worked through and overcome? I don’t think all fears must be ‘conquered’ as some may believe.
Grams from Finding The Line
It's not very often that I go cross-eyed from skiing but after three 4:30am starts and a bout of the lady-flu I was in serious need of a snack and a nap. #shattered #FindingTheLine #naptime ???? Photo: @flakinggoodtime @oyuki_apparel @strafeouterwear @bolle_eyewear @icebreakernz @markerbindings @voelklskis
Now that's what I call a camp with a view! Cheers to another mission to the Australian mountains with the dream team ???????? ✨ #FindingTheLine . Thanks to the @thenorthface_aunz for keeping us warm all night long in this epic VE 25 tent. ???? . . . . #athomeinthemountains #skiing #camping #backcountry #teatime #adventure #Australia #bogong
@bjarnesalen is flying in to Melbourne, @nat_segal has 1000 lists written and I'm…. posting grams! The crew is reassembling and we're stoked to start shooting the 'Australia' segment of our film #FindingTheLine ???? @flakinggoodtime #skiing #actionsports #documentary #Hollywood #goals #oscarnomination #australia