By Catie Collins
Level 1 Production’s teaser for their new film, After Dark, is a journey into the dream realm of Moscow streets and copious quantities of Japanese powder. Earlier, Powder.com caught up with one of the film’s featured athletes, Parker White, and now we go deep with two of the cinematographers, Freedle Coty and Kyle Decker, to get their thoughts on the upcoming movie.
POWDER.COM: Where did you film this year? And, is it true Level 1 went to Alaska to film urban?
FREEDLE COTY: Yeah, we did a trip to Anchorage in December. [Kyle] Decker did a trip to Moscow, Russia, which was another stand out style jib trip. Josh [Berman] did a trip to Japan and that turned out really well. We also did some heli skiing in Telluride, Colorado. For park shoots, we did some at Sun Valley and Breckenridge, Colorado.
What can we expect this year that we haven’t seen before in a Level 1 movie?
FC: Outside of the skiing part we’ll have more of a concept or theme within the movie. In relation to the action, we will hopefully tie in the movie and generate a unique flow outside the skiing. As far skiing goes, I don’t know. The big differences are getting smaller and smaller every year. I think things are becoming more subtle with the “progression of skiing.” [So] it’s hard to find a defining moment; there’s no like nuclear explosion going off for some sort of trick or something. I guess we’ll have to have a finished product to really tell that.
Who’s going to stand out in After Dark?
FC: Parker White comes to mind because he’s had his first year filming with us and he got a lot of really good opportunities. He’s also a really refreshing new guy to come up because he’s not focused on the competition circuit. He is also a really, really, really well-rounded skier. I think he is probably the most well-rounded we’ve worked with. He can like rip lines, shred urban and is also really good at park and all that. On top of that his whole attitude is rad. He will be a stand out as far as new blood is concerned. Ahmet Dadali also had a really good season; those two are probably the most stand outs. Then we had Adam Dellorme and Wiley Miller and guys like that who are always solid. We also had Mike Hornbeck, Chris Logan, Alex Bellemare. We just had a ton of guys who are solid rippers.
What was your favorite story from filming ‘After Dark’?
FC: On a personal level my most unique trip was going to Alaska in December. It’s not necessarily a story but it was cool not going up to Alaska specifically just to big mountain stuff or anything like that. It’s really a dark, limited sunlight time. Which is kind of a cool to have with an urban shoot. That was with Will Wesson and Logan Imlach and those guys are always pretty creative to work around and with.
Was that hard to get the shots you wanted with limited light?
FC: Yeah, it would get light out at 10 a.m. and then dark at 4 p.m., so it was kind of tricky. But when the sun was out, it was super low on the horizon, and it was like a permanent sunset the whole day. We had to film more at night too.
Did Josh Bibby wax someone with that axe?
FC: Josh filmed that at this lodge in B.C. I don’t think there have been any reported homicides.
What was your favorite story from filming ‘After Dark’?
KYLE DECKER: I would say my most memeroble one was when cops in Russia came up to us with AK 47s to try to kick us out of a rail, but we didn’t speak Russian.
Where did the inspiration for the theme of ‘After Dark’ come from?
FC:It came from still photographers and how they are capturing light at night and creating their own images. That’s kind of been a renaissance and there has been bigger and more opportunities to do that at night in video in a more controlled situation. As far as cinematography, it’s been creating cool moods at night with skiing. It was something we were inspired to do. We did it in powder in the middle of nowhere in Montana at night in these pillow fields. We did it in B.C. and did it of course for urban and park as well. The second part of that would be more the dream state, just experimenting with dream states and the unconscious ideas and spectrums and all that, and using that as a theme as a base for a ski movie.
How will your shots from Russia tie into the theme?
KD: Besides that they are ski shots, they won’t really. We shot a separate intro for it to tie into the whole dream sequence thing this weekend actually.
Are a majority of the shots at night?
FC: No, nothing like that. After Dark is just the premise. Yeah, there will be more night shots than usual, but the only part that is similar to our teaser is the intro.
What was the worst thing that went wrong while filming last season?
FC: Thankfully, very little. Liam Downey— who has been a long time veteran—got caught by a car towing rope in Minnesota and it flipped him and took the feet out of underneath him and blew his knee out. That was in December and was just a freaky weird accident.
How much say do you guys have on the different shots?
FC: We’re all sort of on our own missions as far as the main cinematographers—Josh [Berman], Kyle [Decker] and myself, and this year we also had Drew Lederer as a fourth guy. We don’t have the flexibility to be working with one another except at the spring park shoots. So we are kind of on our own programs, so we try to capitalize on doing as many different things with many different people as we can. It’s still a small crew for the movie we make. So, I have a lot of say on what I film. But we try to balance that with what our crew of skiers wants in the shot as well. But we definitely have full creative control.
There’s a lot of urban in the trailer. What’s the breakdown going to look like in the film?
FC: It will be similar to the last two or three movies; probably 40 percent pow, 40 percent urban, and the rest park. Maybe there’s more park than that. Probably an equal amount of powder and urban. I feel very confident about the urban we filmed this year; especially Decker and Drew had really nice stuff and it’s more exciting stuff to watch. Our cover is Alex Bellemare jumping over a pedestrian walkway in Edmonton, Alberta, which is different than normal. I would say it’s urban heavy but we have great powder skiing as well. We spent a lot of time in B.C., Colorado and Utah filming all that stuff, and Montana as well.
Who were the fresh faces filming with you this season?
FC: Well, they’re not fresh entirely but Parker White and Chris Logan. They were rookies last year and now they’re pretty full time. Totally fresh is Alex Bellemare, a little up and comer from Quebec. He’s a cool kid and he’s got a good style.
How did you get in touch with Alex?
FC: He was actually one of our Super Unknown runners up two years ago, behind Logan Imlach. He got a little travel budget with Armada so I think his first trip was to Edmonton, and he met up with Kyle Decker and Parker White, Ian Compton. Oh, Ian Compton he was new, too, he had more of a cameo roll. But he got his chance and totally killed it.
Which type of shoots do you prefer more?
FC: I really like watching it all. I still like watching urban as much as I did ten years ago. I love the rawness of it. But I don’t prefer that anymore than powder. I actually filmed far more powder type stuff. But if you can combine a good line with freestyle, to me, it’s the best shot you can watch. I think anyone can be stoked on that, even a kid from the East Coast can be stoked on a really creative nice powder shot, as opposed to someone skiing bottomless powder or a big line. I think that’s the ultimate.
What was the hardest place you had to get to this season?
FC: I think I would go back to Russia on that. They had to get visas and it all had to be very premeditated. It’s also in Moscow, one of the biggest cities in the world so the traffic and navigating was really bad. Also the language barrier was really hard; I mean they had guides but that was the biggest mission we undertook this year. So big props to Kyle for undertaking that one.
When and where is the world premiere?
FC: September 9th in Denver at Cervantes Ballroom. You can find all the information online at level1productions.com under calendar.