Not many people think of hitting the streets of Trail when they prepare to make first tracks.
But an urban skiing video shot on the streets of Trail and across the region has gone viral, giving those who pursue mountain powder new points to ponder.
With 124,000 views in the first day of its release online, a street segment by J.P. Auclair from “All.I.Can” (http://www.sherpascinema.com/news/jp-auclair-street-segment-goes-ballistic) is taking the neighbourhood powder of the Silver City — as well as Rossland and Nelson — across the world through the cyber screen.
The five-minute clip by Whistler-based Sherpas Cinema Inc. is a homage to the growing urban skiing movement, said director/cinematographer David Mossop, and including the slopes, citizens and streetscapes of the West Kootenay was done on the advice of one who knew its haunts.
Mossop said the other director of the feature film “All.I.Can.,” Eric Crosland, lives in Nelson, and kept reminding Mossop of how perfect the area would be for a street segment.
“And Trail, with its spectacular smelter towers, was perfect to add the environmental angle of “All.I.Can.” into the mise-en-scène,” said Mossop in an email.
As Mossop and Auclair contemplated the Kootenay shoot last year Auclair started reminiscing about how, as a kid, he would look out the car window and visualize a skier hitting every little patch of snow and jibbing everything possible.
In the segment, it appears that Auclair does just that, skiing over sidewalks, snow-covered vehicles, through backyards and down stairwells, even sparking his skis across gravel-encrusted roads.
“I think a lot of people have shared this fantasy at some time in their life, and I think that’s why this segment has turned out so powerful,” said Mossop about his first urban segment.
Although they had all kinds of reactions from passersby in the West Kootenay, the unique nature of urban skiing isn’t so unique in Eastern Canada, said Mossop. They wanted to bring the notion out West through the film.
“A lot of people ski urban, especially in the East, and we wanted to include all those good folks in the film — give them an entry point and include them in our conversation about the environment and mountain culture,” he said. “Big mountain skiing and urban are quite different, but we are still brothers and sisters of the same community.”
Almost every shot in the West Kootenay segment was planned, said Mossop, but he kept discovering happy coincidences within each one — with little symbols or visual connections helping make the segment click.
“The bus at the end (in Nelson) was not planned, though,” said Mossop. “On our last day we heard it coming up the road and I ran and dove with the camera, placing it on the ground and hitting record. J.P. played it perfectly, casually getting on and then whispering to the driver, ‘Just take me to the next stop, I’ll explain there.’”
For cinematic continuity every shot in the segment needed to be done in grey, drizzly weather, so they used the “nice” days to scout and dig. And dig they did for two weeks, scoping, building and shooting the footage for the entire segment, working long days.
Mossop said some shots were nailed on the first try, while others took almost 40 attempts.
With only two of them involved in the shoot — and occasional help from kids walking home from school — there were a few close scrapes with cars and some interesting encounters with the locals.
One Trail fellow, Joey, was the best, said Mossop (he rides his bike with the trailer through one shot). He just walked up to the two and was immediately their best friend.
“He’d just reach into a bag of chips we were eating and start munching away, asking us how everything was going,” said Mossop.
“Most people have this inhibition when you first meet them, and act with a slight guard up, you know? But not Joey. We hung out with him for a week and it was legitimately sad when we had to leave him behind. I wish everyone could be that friendly right off the bat.”
One shot in Nelson on Cedar Street really epitomized the West Kootenay experience for Mossop and Auclair. They spent one day on the street, building the shot for the 30-second, continuous clip.
“A bunch of kids came out and helped us build it,” said Mossop. “Then everyone came out of the woodwork and watched as J.P. back flips the hedge, grinds the street, gaps the alley, slides the rail and then drops the steep rail at the end. It was super fun to do, a great creative process, and an amazing vibe in the community.
“We ended up hanging around so much that people started bringing us out plates of hot-dogs and chips. The whole trip was really an amazing social experience, and we met some amazing people who we would never have met otherwise.”