BEHIND THE SCENES WITH SHERPAS
CINEMA: SCULPTED IN TIME
By Meghan J. Ward
INTERVIEW I PHOTOGRAPHY/FILM
Known for their award-winning films, including The Fine Line, All.I.Can and Into the Mind, in 2014 Sherpas Cinema brought the ski scene in Banff National Park to life with Sculpted in Time. In this interview, we get a glimpse into the making of this four-part series with producer Malcolm Sangster.
MW/ What is your personal connection to skiing in Banff National Park?
MS/ I grew up here in Alberta. In my younger years I was a ski racer, competing at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mt. Norquay. Later in high school, I gave up ski racing and found a love for powder and the backcountry. From a freeskiing standpoint, we mostly skied Lake Louise and ventured beyond the resort boundaries into the adjacent backcountry, luckily avoiding too much consequence until we properly learned about mitigating all the risks a bit later in life.
MW/ How did you choose your four ‘characters’ for the films?
MS/ Well, with Christian Bagg, Chris Rubens and Eric Hjorliefson it was easy. They are long time friends of ours and we knew that beyond their compelling connection to Banff National Park, they would be fun and easy to work with. We had all heard of Dan Hudson as a photographer, and it was a Sunshine Village ski patroller who brought up Dan again as a interesting way to tell the story of that ski area. Eddie Hunter was introduced to us by Mt. Norquay‘s marketing team, and once we learned about his story, and the fact that he was a ski historian and a filmmaker….well, it was a slam dunk.
→ Read More: Three Things I’ve Learned, with Eddie Hunter
MW/ You shot this series in just 30 days. What were the biggest challenges in gathering footage for Sculpted in Time?
MS/ When shooting in mountains, the biggest challenge is always the weather. And take that one step further when your filming within a resort boundary. That challenge can be amplified in the fact that you are trying to find and shoot fresh, untouched snow of which the ski areas want to offer to their public as well. So, narrowing a shoot window down to just a handful of days, permitting it through Parks Canada, aligning your crew, helicopter and athletes, and then hoping that the ski area has had recent snow and current sun – it’s a colossal challenge, to say the least.
MW/ Which is your favourite sequence or moment in the series?
MS/ From an editing standpoint, I’d say my favourite moment is Noah Maisonet spinning a 360 off the Norquay Teahouse. The build in the accompanying song and Eddie’s line gives me goosebumps every time.
From actually shooting and being on set, I’d say my favourite moment was Eric Hjorleifson straight-lining the diagonal chute in ER 5 at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and then ripping ER5 in only a few turns. It had been a stressful morning with the weather being rather uncooperative. It was our last day with the helicopter, and we needed to get it done. After a lot of waiting and pacing atop Whitehorn Mountain, the clouds finally parted enough to allow for a grand session. We filmed all the lines off summit, and then I packed up, raced down to the cat track near Paradise Chair, and right as I rounded the corner I saw the heli peel around the peak and Hjorleifson dropped in. It was one of the last shots of the morning, and a great release of stress was lifted. It will forever be burned in my mind.
MW/ Online the films together have amassed over 1 million views. How did it feel to screen it live in Banff in November 2014?
MS/ It’s always great to see the films in the Eric Harvie Theatre at The Banff Centre. There is great picture and sound in there. It was also awesome to have a local crew of ski area workers and ski enthusiasts to share the films with in a more intimate setting. It was a great night.
MW/ Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
MS/ We’re super happy and proud to have completed such a project on our home turf after working in British Columbia for so many years. We started as the Rocky Mountain Sherpas, and although we’ve taken the Rocky Mountains out of the name, you can never take them out of our hearts.
Watch Sculpted in Time
Shot on location during 30 rigorous days of filming across Banff National Park’s three ski areas, including a deep dive into its backcountry terrain, the Sculpted in Time series presents spectacular perspectives on Mt. Norquay (‘The Wise Man’), Lake Louise Ski Resort (‘The Character’), Sunshine Village (The Artist’), and Banff National Park backcountry (‘The Innovator’).
Writer, adventurer, outdoorsy mama and summit cartwheeler. Meghan J. Ward is the editor and co-founder at Crowfoot Media and lives for backcountry getaways.