After The Sky Falls Masters the Art of Ski Films

Webisode makers graduate to stunning filmmakers

Susan couldn’t help herself. Plane propriety be damned. With a James Bond-like title and stunning editing, After The Sky Falls by Nimbus Independent is a downloadable joy. So much so, in fact, an elderly woman, Susan, the 4A to my 4B assigned seat, leaned on my shoulder for a better view. The film’s colors flashing on screen were too exciting for her to abide by common airplane etiquette. And yet, together, awkwardly, we watched Pep Fujas humbly carve a mountain face like a longtime culinary master. It’s all right, Susan. You’re excused. I was quite taken by the film, too. “What show is that?” you ask?

Describing a ski film to non-skiers sounds somewhat psychotic and a bit childish.

Yes. That’s skiing, a ski movie. Well, they travel the world, skiing in cool places and documenting it for an annual fall release. Sometimes the films go online. There are quite a few of them. Yes, like a highlight video, sort of. No, they’re not crazy. Uh. Ha. Yes. I am a man in his late-20s watching other grown men and women perform stunts on their skis.

Seriously. Who’s the real kook? I digress.

Nimbus was one of the first to the web game, dropping mini-series like Point and Shoot, En Route, and Raw. Their webisodes and films typically featured a similar cast of characters doing similar rodeos, switch powder landings, and butters to impossibly good music and feelings-based voice-over. In five years, the ski world perhaps got a little desensitized to the whole Nimbus aesthetic. We called it art, sometimes mockingly. Our attention spans so short we forgot Idea, the Eric Iberg-directed film and such a ground-breaking moment for the genre, happened all the way back in 2007. A ski film will never be perfect, but they can always get better.

Where the Hood at? Photo Courtesy of Nimbus
Where the Hood at? PHOTO: Courtesy of Nimbus

With two-years of production padding and welcoming cinematography veterans Jeff Wright of Standard Films fame and Tyler Hamlet, a director of Poor Boyz films past, After The Sky Falls is the most cinematic, beautifully shot ski film by Nimbus to date. The editing is deeply personal. Brief scenes of the skiers’ wives and children riding and skiing alongside fit nicely with the winding journey across Japan or hometown Mount Hood in Oregon. This is no gimmick. There are no talking heads for the sake of talking heads. This is a film about human beings utilizing the good fortune of skiing, friendship, family, and travel to make a harmonious life in the mountains. The Nimbus Family Band. It’s beautiful.

Chris Benchetler nose butters a powdery slope in After The Sky Falls Photo Courtesy of Nimbus
Chris Benchetler nose butters a powdery slope in After The Sky Falls PHOTO: Courtesy of Nimbus

Make no mistake, Eric Pollard is no slouch—filming, editing, producing, and skiing for the film—and this is certainly not a vanity home-movie project. The crew, including Chris Benchetler and Pep Fujas, a new father himself, has grown up in the five years we’ve known them as Nimbus. Not that they needed to—they’re three of the most respected skiers in the game—but it’s good to see as people mature, so too does their skiing and filmmaking. A good amount of work went into making this film, as evident by the seamless transitions and excellent sound and color design that’s all tucked up neatly in an easy-to-watch (again and again) 29-minute and 56-second download. Yes, for the time it takes to watch one crappy television show on Hulu, Susan, viewers can spend two years with Nimbus.

Susan looked at my screen, visions of Pep flashing in her gray eyes, and, fully cognizant of sounding cliché, I thought, “If this ski film thing really is art, this may be a masterpiece.”