Here’s the second webisode from British director Ismar Badzic and his White Line crew, following the life of Jake Cornish – a thirty year old snowboarder and avalanche survivor. Like the first, these are all about telling mini-stories in the build up to the release of the full movie later this year. Have a watch and read the full article from director Ismar below for more behind-the-scenes insights on what went on for the shoot.
Words: Ismar Badzic, Director.
By now I hope you’ve watched our first webisode and followed us on all our social media sites because you’re so damn inspired by the low budget, British made snowboard film ‘Deeper than Snow’ that we’re making. If you haven’t, then you’re missing out… but, I would say that wouldn’t I?
The reason we’re gathered here today is to celebrate the release of our second webisode which is taken from a section of the film that we shot in Anzère, Switzerland. Anzére is the local mountain of our main rider, Jake Cornish, and the place where we shot our first snowboard movie ‘The White Line’ in 2012. It’s the mountain where we met and where I asked him that fateful question which inspired me to start making snowboard films with heart and soul; “What happened to your arms?” I asked as we made our way up the telecabin to which I received the chilling answer “I was caught in an avalanche…”
Anzére certainly isn’t biggest mountain in the world but it’s special and feels like home to me, to Jake and to almost everyone that’s ever spent any time on it. Simply put, it has a peculiar charm that keeps people coming back. For me it’s the place all of this snowboard movie malarkey began so it’s very close to my heart. Everyone has their own reasons for loving it and for Jake, it’s the town that he met his wife in and where he decided to start a family after surviving his avalanche. The beautiful thing about shooting in Anzére is that Jake knows it inside out and always knows where the best spots are and when to shoot them. That’s the way this team is set up – I run the camera side of things, making sure we get good shots tied together with a touching story and Jake plans the locations. I’ve got no problem admitting I’m very new, very green and very uneducated in the world of snowboarding so Jake takes the lead with where to shoot, therefore acting not only as a rider but a major part of the filmmaking crew. In this particular webisode, the place Jake led us to was a section of untracked backcountry littered with rocks and glazed in beautiful sunshine…but to get there we all had to overcome some fears.
Jake led the way and we followed him down through some trees. I remembered this area from last year and I remember being warned of avalanches…so as soon as I saw the route we were taking I was on my guard and the fear started kicking in. It’s funny because last year I was completely ignorant of the avalanche threat and even though I was making a film about an avalanche survivor, I didn’t waste my time thinking about these ‘rare’ occurrences and their consequences. But after an intimate edit with the first film and having spent a lot of time with footage of X-rays and scars, the threat of avalanches really hit home and it was just another way to die. Snap back to reality and Jake was already going ahead to scout the route down as I was lost in a sea of snowy disaster ridden thoughts. After a while, he radioed in to tell us that he had a bad feeling about the area we were in and that it could potentially slide. I became pretty scared, pretty fast because the word avalanche was no longer a throwaway in my vocabulary, it was something I understood and feared. The other Brit on the team, my best friend and best camera operator I know, George Simpson, joined in my fear. George and I had shot the first film together and learnt the hard way that we had to improve our skills on the snow if we wanted to keep making these films because we ate far too much powder.
We battled through the first film with grit and determination making up for a lack of expertise but we both knew determination wasn’t enough to undo an avalanche. Luckily we had our amazing producer, Nicolas Zen-Ruffinen, to thank for getting us down. Nic grew up in Anzére and knew the mountain well and assured us that everything would be fine if we took it slow. It took us a while but we got down safely and once we were together, Jake apologised and told us that he shouldn’t have let his avalanche fear get to the rest of us because it was probably safer than he made out. But it was a good experience in trust and team building and with Jake’s caution and Nic’s calm head, I knew that we’d be fine for the rest of the trip. Our film isn’t about life threatening risks just to get the shots, it’s about people and passion and family and to capture that beauty we had to be safe first and foremost.
Once we made it down to the place Jake wanted, overwhelming natural beauty surrounded us and the earlier fears quickly disappeared. We were alone in a field of rocks with the sun beating down, warmed by the knowing that we were all here together, living the dream in the best office anybody could ever ask for. The rocks masked the din of the people on the far away pistes and for a whole day, it was just us and nature, cameras and laughter. It was our own slice of heaven and everything you could ask for as a filmmaker, right here in sweet Anzére which we all loved so much. So we worked away in the beautiful sunshine, shedding our coats and hats in exchange for T-shirts and sweaty brows. As myself, George and Nic played with the cameras and gadgets, Jake built a jump on a rock and hit it all day long with his nice, natural style. We were able to capture moment after moment of great action shots and grabbed some wonderful interviews and human moments too. Before we knew it, the day was drawing to a close and with the snow on the jump melting and getting damaged after each hit, it was time to pack up and leave paradise. Of course, I side slipped all the way back down to the bottom, not taking any risks. Despite my caution, I still managed to get my board wedged between a rock and a hole and as I took it off to get out I had to play action hero with a diving catch to stop the board sliding down the mountain. I certainly made a hash of getting down but I wasn’t as scared as before because this time I was safe in the knowledge that a great team surrounded me and I wouldn’t do fear the favour of defeating the trust I had for my brothers in arms.
We’ll be releasing another Webisode in June, so make sure to stay up to date with all our social networks for photos, videos and blogs charting our progress as we go Deeper than Snow.