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Cabin Jams: Q+A with Leah Evans and Jamie Tanner


By Tera Swanson

Four musicians, four athletes, one remote backcountry location in the Northern Selkirk Mountains. Away from the distractions of everyday life, each brings their diverse crafts to the cabin and a serendipitous story emerges. Guided by co-producers Leah Evans and Jamie Tanner, ‘Cabin Jams’ is a unique adventure film blending various streams of mountain inspiration.

From the film’s description: Eight friends travel to a remote cabin – riders and musicians. With no script, they set out to interpret the landscape and write and record songs that become the audio for the film… 


Tera Swanson/ How did you first come up with the idea for the film?

Jamie Tanner/ Leah Evans came up with this whole concept, and it was something we’d talked about for years. The basic template of action sports videos is to go shoot, bring all the footage back, slap on a sweet rock tune or pop culture song and make a cool edit. But it often has no connection to the trip or the place or the experience; they’re such separate entities. We really wanted the music to tell the story of that specific trip.

Leah Evans/ I’d had the idea in the back of my mind for several years. I’m so inspired by music and the feelings it can evoke in you, and I’ve always wanted to see how we could creatively blend music and skiing. I’m also a hiking guide in the summer and with all my time outside I wanted to see if we could use music as a way to translate wilderness into something that everyone could enjoy.

TS/ Can you tell me about your connection to each of the athletes and musicians?

LE/ I’ve met all of these folks at some point in my life through skiing or Revelstoke (with the exception of my brother). The common bond with the athletes is that we’re all Patagonia ambassadors but, what’s more, we just got along and had a similar vision. I’ve seen all the musicians perform at the local Coffee House – a concert that happens once a month at the United Church and is presented by the Revelstoke Folk Music Society. The guide, safety, cook, Jamie, and photographer are also great friends whom I’ve met and travelled with through skiing adventures and ventures. Many of them hadn’t met one another before the trip.

Still from the film, Cabin Jams.

Still from the film, Cabin Jams.

TS/ A project like this is unique in several ways, what kind of planning went into it beforehand?

JT/ We had ideas of what we wanted to capture, but knew with the nature of the film there was no point trying to write a storyboard. I think that was one of the biggest risks going in, but if we put too much pressure on people it could really stifle that creative process. So during our talks beforehand, we decided to bite our teeth and keep any fears and worries to ourselves. Just let it happen however it was gonna happen, and if that meant totally failing, we’d ride it out as it was failing all the way. Because that would be better in the end than trying to force it.

But right away our worries were quelled because everyone was vibing so well. You could just tell from the energy of the collaboration, that it was all going to happen. So it was easy to step back and just let them do their thing.

TS/ What was it like to be a part of the creative process?

LE/ It was amazing. It involved a lot of creative thinking because we only had a set number of things and we had to work with that. Additionally, we had no WIFI so folks were totally in the experience. There was no outside influence in regards to their creativity.

JT/ Me and Leah have worked together for a long time, and she is always really ambitious. Most people would definitely just want to play it safe and take on what they know they can achieve. So as much as it was stressful, it was really exciting to be on a project where you really have to be on your toes. You don’t know when that magical moment you’re hoping to capture will happen. You just have to be ready when it starts to reveal itself.

TS/ With over a week of full-on days working on this project, was there any particular moment that really stuck with you?

JT/ A song was written after a few days, and they really wanted to perform it at sunrise out in front of the cabin. You’re hitting almost -20 degrees (Celsius) at that time of day, so it was super challenging. The guitars were literally cracking as they were playing. The athletes came out to watch and were standing super quietly as the musicians did a couple of takes. The sun was just hitting that perfect morning light and we all knew we had something really special.

LE/  The laughs, and I agree, seeing the musicians perform outside at sunrise and sunset singing “Think I’ll Stay.” It was hard not to cry at the sheer beauty of their voices and our surroundings.

Still from the film, Cabin Jams.

Still from the film, Cabin Jams.

TS/ What was your main takeaway from this experience?

LE/  The team was amazing, super supportive. I’m very organized so I think everything from that point of view went well. Jamie Tanner is such an magical cinematographer and we work very well together as a team. I think we would storyboard things a bit more including the voiceovers to cut down the amount of editing time.

JT/ I learned the value in cross-pollinating. Infusing the musicians into this trip and film made it so much more enriching, because they’re not skiers or snowboarders, they think differently. It brought a unique element to something we’d done many times before. Branching out from our usual scene with people from backgrounds or disciplines – even if it feels like it won’t mesh – is quite often where the best performances and pieces come from. If you have a passion, you’ll be able to relate to someone else who’s passionate, no matter what your passions are.

TS/ What do you hope others will feel after watching the film?

JT/ Our goal was to humanize the experience of being on a backcountry ski trip, and make it less of a crazy production where you’re hucking 80-foot cliffs. We wanted to make the experience accessible, and inspire people to bring some friends to a cabin, have some laughs and stories, and enjoy something that in our own lives we enjoy so much.

LE/ I wanted to use music as a bridge to connecting people with wilderness. Not everyone can ski, but everyone can sing, so by singing the song, there actually is some way of connecting to that space in the Esplanade range.

Tera Swanson is a freelance writer and graduate from Mount Royal University’s Journalism undergraduate program. Whether laced into hiking boots or clipped into skis, her favourite way to explore the mountains is on her own two feet. She’s always up for anything that will end in the telling of a good story; be it through photography, from pen to paper, or over a locally brewed amber ale.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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