By Will Eginton
Teton Gravity Research has established itself as one of the premier production companies in the industry. Todd Jones, one of TGR's founders and producers, talks to Powder.com about building park features deep in the backcountry, an epic Alaska trip in a new location, and an unprecedented trip to Iceland—all in the making of TGR’s latest and forthcoming film, One for the Road. Despite some setbacks due to snowpack, the TGR crew kept truckin' on in true road-warrior fashion.
POWDER.COM: Why did you choose ‘One for the Road’ for the name of the film? And, why do you choose the name before the season even begins?
TODD JONES: We picked the name One for the Road so we could focus on all the different experiences the athletes have along the road. Creatively for the intro, we wanted to demonstrate the wisdom of a road warrior that has been bestowed upon the athlete. We like to pin the name and the general scope of the project before the year starts. We do this so that when we go into post-production, we have the shots we need to carry an actual theme throughout the film.
How was Alaska this year? Did the poor snow affect the trip? Well, the place we were originally planning on going to had terrible reports, so we had to go back to the drawing board. Four or five months of planning went down the drain. We had to redo our entire plan in the span of about three weeks. We tracked storms and snow, and honed in on an area that we didn't think of going to in years past, outside of Juneau. It has seen very little traffic, and as we flew in, we got a huge storm. There was a good base, and everything cleared up. It went really well for us. We had Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ian McIntosh, and Daron Rahlves. Seth even came out for a bit, but he was pretty busy working on his movie. Griffin Post and Todd Ligare came out as well.
Is that where that gnarly crash in your trailer came from? Yeah, that was Mac [Ian McIntosh]. He broke his femur.
TGR brought in Nick Martini, Tom Wallisch and Mike Riddle, among others. What made you decide to bring in more park oriented skiers this year? We've always worked with park heavy skiers. You know, we've filmed with Tanner, Candide, CR, Jon, Sammy, and the list goes on. It is just an extension of what we've always done. I did a trip with them last year to New Zealand with The North Face. We hit it off, and they fit in to the TGR DNA, and so we did a little bit more with them.
What sort of trips did they do? We filmed Nick Martini here in Jackson, and then did a trip to Iceland. We had Rory Bushfield, Andreas Hatviet, Byron Wells, and Nick. Then I did a trip with Riddle, Martini, and Wallisch up in British Columbia as well. We are actually on our way out to Mt. Hood to shoot Nick and a young kid named Willie Borm.
So you haven't finished filming yet? No, we have just one last trip. We wanted a few more shots, so we're going to film for one last week.
What was it like shooting and skiing in Iceland? Iceland is a really cool place. It is a beautiful country with really cool people. We ended up doing a lot of urban, just because we had a lot of bad weather in the alpine terrain. They really rolled out the red carpet for us. We could hit any feature in town whenever we wanted. It was really cool from an urban perspective, considering that things like that are usually night assault missions. They really allowed us to do whatever we wanted.
Was it strictly urban, or did you get out and ski some backcountry? Yeah, we did a little bit of backcountry. We filmed some cool stuff: Riding down to the ocean and hitting some cliffs and natural features. Beyond that, we built a huge jump in the middle of nowhere.
How did the trip to Macedonia, eastern Europe trip? I wasn't on that trip. A lot of those eastern European exploratory trips have a bunch of different challenges and variables. I think in the end it turned out to be a fruitful, productive trip, but there were definitely some challenges with the snow.
Were you involved in the Baldface trip filmed by ziplines from above? That was actually the earlier one, and I wasn't on that trip. We did a second trip later in the year, and built a bunch of park features. We built a bunch of stuff that no one has ever done. We had a Phantom Flex, a RED Camera, and all of these cool production tools. While we were there, we ended up getting two feet of snow. We were able to film both powder and park features. We were also shooting The North Face ad for the X Games. It was a great trip—really unique park trip. We built a park where there really never was one.
How was Japan? Was TGR there before or after the tsunami? Well, we had so-so snow when we were there; it was before the tsunami. We got a few shots with Benchetler, Dana Flahr, and Daron Rahlves. I don't know if they will be in the movie or not, but that's how it goes. That trip was actually a diversion. We were supposed to do a trip in Europe, but with the snow being as bad as it was, we made a last minute change. The snow was OK. It wasn't epic Japan, though.
What can we expect from Benchetler this year? He filmed with us in Jackson, and Japan primarily. He hit Jackson at a good time, and definitely has some good shots from there. We worked with him last year, and we had a great time working with him. He is an amazing skier, and super good at getting shots. He definitely knows what he's doing. It definitely was a good experience last year, and it was something that both TGR and Chris pursued for this year. I think we'll do a lot more this coming year as well.
Who do you think will stand out in this year's movie? Sage, McIntosh, and Daron had a great trip to Alaska. Todd Ligare's stuff was great; he has a breakout segment for sure. We've been working with him for a few years, but he really put it together this year. Callum and Rory had good stuff. We started working with Griffin Post—he lives in Jackson now—and he is pretty amazing. Martini and Wallisch got great stuff with us this year.