Greg Epstein on TGR’s Almost Ablaze

TGR's nonstop travel, mic'ing athletes, and Italy's record deep winter

Expect to see more blower pow from Jackson in TGR's Almost Ablaze.

Expect to see more blower pow from Jackson in TGR’s Almost Ablaze.

TGR let winter keep them on their toes this year. With a crew of their standby athletes and a handful of talented newcomers, TGR put together a film focused on foot-powered trips and highlighting the challenges and fear that come with big-mountain skiing. We caught up with supervising producer Greg Epstein to learn a little more about their epic season.

We shot in Jackson, in Grand Teton National Park on Mount Moran. We shot in Sella Nevea, Italy, which had a record snow year, and that was insane. Chairlifts were buried. We shot in Revelstoke, BC, and we shot with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing. We did a night shoot with Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa] at Grand Targhee, and we shot in Juneau and Haines. We went to La Grave, France, as well. We really just played it by ear and waited until the last second before pulling the trigger.

Italy got to the point where they had almost too much snow. We were there and questioning if the avalanche danger was too high and went for it anyways, and in the last third of the trip the weather glassed off and avy conditions came down.

We mic’ed all of our athletes this year, which provided candid audio all winter that captures that feeling of being where they are, on the edge, before a run, even in the middle of a run. That sound is an added level for the audience that we’re really excited about.

We wanted to bring the ski movie back home a little bit, to what people classically think of with a ski movie. The underlying message may not be as much as in past films. Almost Ablaze is more about being in the moment and having a good time out there. You get to know the athletes as characters, through how they’re interacting with other athletes and Mother Nature.

We did a big Mount Moran camping trip, 20 people with loaded sleds, out there for four or five days. It’s a pretty big mission and it takes a lot of manpower to make that happen, but we’re willing to go the extra mile. We still depend a lot on helis but we’re moving away from heli-driven footage and more towards that foot-powered backcountry experience.

One of the big standouts this year is Nick McNutt. He got third in the CoLab 2013 contest, and we brought him on this year. He’s amazing, and has done a lot of really great stuff for us. Dane Tudor also came on this year, he’s another incredible skier that brings that high level that people expect from TGR, and then there’s Johnny Collinson, an amazing young skier that’s super fired up and has a long career ahead of him.

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