It’s hard to stay relevant in the ski movie world. With the advent of new technology, rising popularity of new distribution methods, and accelerated progression of the sport, it’s easy for small film companies to go by the wayside. That hasn’t been the case for Norway’s Chaoz Productions, a company that started in the same way many others did: a passionate skier thought it would be fun to pick up a video camera.
Five years after his initial release fueled a passion that would quickly become a career, Chaoz founder Eivind Aurstad has built his company into a successful, sustainable ski movie powerhouse. We caught up with the 23-year-old Norwegian filmmaker to discuss his latest release, Head Straight, as well as the state of the ski movie industry and his goals for the future.
Photo: Sverre Hjornevik
How did you get your start?
Me and a friend of mine, [Chaoz co-founder] Sigurd Nordal, grew up at a place called Nesbyen here in Norway, which is about 45 minutes from one of Norway’s biggest ski resorts, Hemsedal. Just like most Norwegians, we were born with skis on our feet, and have always loved skiing. At one point, we also started to get interested in filmmaking, and figured that combining the two would be awesome.
In 2007, we made our first short film with some of Norway’s most talented skiers (at that time), and submitted it to a Swedish film competition called Freeride Video Awards, which we ended up winning. After that, the decision to continue making ski movies was easy, and here I am. Sigurd dropped out a couple of years ago, so now I’m on my own.
Did you ever think you’d be making ski movies for six years?
I was certainly hoping so, but I didn’t really think I would do this for so long. It’s a tough business.
What has changed from year one until now?
A lot! When we started making movies, this was just a hobby, and things weren’t that serious. Now, six years later, making ski movies has become a full time job, and we have a lot more sponsors, etc. involved. There’s definitely more pressure now.
What has remained the same?
We still love what we do!
Photo: Martin I. Dalen
What are the biggest difficulties of working in the ski movie industry?
Since we have to work out in the field all the time, the weather definitely gives us a huge challenge, obviously. Another challenge, at least for us, is the economy. It’s really, really difficult to get a decent budget to work with. Many people don’t realize how much a production like this costs. Thankfully, we’ve had sponsors supporting us, [which has] made it possible for us to make these films, and do what we love.
What were your goals with Head Straight?
We try to push ourselves every year, both in front of and behind the camera. We wanted to try some new things. New camera techniques, creative spots, etc. We also wanted to make our best movie yet, with a lot of variation to show different sides of freeskiing. Even though we’ve had a lot of bad luck along the way, I think we accomplished that goal.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
That has to be [showing] our movies at the iF3. Back in the day, I spent all my money buying ski movies, and watched all the movies from MSP, Level 1, TGR, etc. So, to be screening our latest movies in the Pro category at the iF3, together with the same companies that I grew up watching, is pretty awesome.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to be able to work with Chaoz for the rest of my life, but not necessarily just to make ski movies.
Photo: Martin I. Dalen
How are you able to offer the movie for free online?
Our goal has always been to reach as many people as possible, and therefore we have been distributing our movies for free. Our only income comes from sponsors who support us, which makes this possible.
Does Chaoz do any side projects?
We’ve done a couple of commercials, etc, but not that much. Making ski movies takes up most of our time. But we definitely like a challenge, and want to try new things.
What is the state of the ski movie industry right now?
I think the ski movie industry is at a very important point. Now that the Olympics are right around the corner, I think it’s important that we also try to show the public and mass media the other sides of this sport, not just the competition side of it. Skiing is more than slopestyle, judging and scores, and it’s important that we show people that.
Besides that, ski movies in general have come a long way the last few years. When I started watching ski movies back in the day, they all looked like some low budget hobby projects. Today, the biggest movies look like Hollywood blockbusters.
What is the future of the ski movie industry?
Storytelling seems to be more important than ever, and something that many companies are starting to really put a lot of work into. Sherpa’s Into the Mind is a good example. Since freeskiing is getting more and more attention, thanks in part to the Olympics, ski movies reach a much wider audience now than ever before. It’s not just the core people in the industry buying ski movies anymore, at least [that’s the case] here in Norway. To make a ski movie interesting for a wider audience, you need to have a story to tell, and not just make ski porn. Otherwise people will get bored after five minutes.
What are your plans for this winter?
I don’t want to say too much about it now, but we definitely have something going on. Stay tuned!
Photo: Martin I. Dalen
What gear do you shoot on?
We use a lot of different gear, depending on the type of shoot. But most of the time we use the Panasonic GH3, Sony FS700, Canon DSLR’s and RED cameras.
What is your advice for people who want to shoot skiing for a living?
Just like everything else in life, if you work hard enough, anything is possible. I mean, who would have thought a 23-year-old dude from Nesbyen would make ski movies for a living, right? Go out and shoot as often as you can. Learning by doing.