On ‘Attack of La Niña’

Executive producer Murray Wais discusses MSP's latest film in the offing

By Will Eginton

What can we expect from Matchstick’s forthcoming film, Attack of La Niña? The same thing, it seems, as every year: unique settings, big mountain lines, crazy park jumps, and interesting backstories. Sprinkle in some of the best skiers in the world and stunning cinematography, and you’ve got yourself one damn good ski movie. Here, we talk with Murray Wais, executive producer/co-founder of Matchstick Productions—which just dropped the trailer for the new film, yesterday—about the latest production in the offing.

POWDER.COM: One of the segments in ‘The Way I See It’ focused on Bralorne, British Columbia, which was pretty much was a completely new experience for all involved. Did you take any trips like that this season?

Murray Wais, co-founder/executive producer of Matchstick Productions. Photo: Scott Markewitz
Murray Wais, co-founder/executive producer of Matchstick Productions. Photo: Scott Markewitz

MURRAY WAIS: The closest thing I could compare to it would be what we did in Silverton, Colorado, but not so much this year. When we were in Silverton, we didn’t take out the heli at all. We were skiing and hiking off of the lift. We built a lot of kickers off of western face of the mountain, and brought in Alex Schlopy to film out there.

Is he the only fresh face in the new movie? Besides Alex, we brought in Torin Yater-Wallace. We brought him in to shoot some park things. He is a really cool kid. He is super mature and on it. He was really excited for the opportunity, and he worked really hard to get shots. He has a positive attitude, and it really showed when we had to work super late into the night. I’m sure he was super cold and bored, but he was super keen to get the shot, and he skied super well. I like Torin. He’s a good guy.

Speaking of young guys, how prominent will Sean Pettit be in this year’s film? Sean logged a lot of footage. He stuck around B.C. for most of the year because the season was so good up there. He is going to have another banger segment, like last year; maybe even better than last year.

Last year your movie had an interesting format: Abma and Pettit had true-to-form segments, while other segments were location-based. What sort of format can we expect this year? The movies are absolutely athlete driven. The athletes are by far the stars of the film. While some segments are based around skiers, others will be based off of locations or stories. It is going to be a mix of the three, if that makes any sense. It is not one way or another.

Last year’s movie had an insane jump session in Alaska. Did you guys go back to Alyeska this season? We actually did a lot of park shooting this year. We had a jump shoot in Breckenridge that went really well, and we had another one in Aspen. We even went back to Alyeska, but we shot in a different location with a different backdrop, and we shot some really cool extra slow-mo stuff. Bobby threw down some unbelievable tricks. We jumped for two days, with a crew of Jacob Wester, Russ Henshaw, Richard Permin, and Colby West.

Did Jacob Wester come out to shoot powder and backcountry? Yeah, he filmed quite of pow. He’s all about it. We probably shot four different weeks that were all in the backcountry, hitting backcountry jumps and just skiing.

How big of a presence can we expect from Richard Permin? He’ll have some good shots. He filmed from January through the end of May, so he will have a lot of shots. Last year, he only spent three weeks filming with us. So he has logged a large amount of footage. He definitely will be standout this year with us. … He was based in British Columbia, and he skied with Sean Pettit pretty much the entire season.

Sounds like a lot of the movie was shot in British Columbia. Basically, the entire movie is shot in British Columbia, except for Aspen, Silverton and Breckenridge. We ventured out to interior and northern B.C., as well as spending a little bit of time in the Whistler/Pemberton area. We were pretty much all over British Columbia.

Despite logging a pretty impressive segment, Mark Abma’s season was cut short by a knee injury. How did he fare this season? He was really able to bounce back. He shredded in full effect. He charged and got some really good shots this year. He actually ended up hurting his other knee at the very end of the year. It may have been hurt earlier, but he skied all season, and then got it fixed at the end of the year.

Did Abma and Eric Hjorleifson venture out and film another skinning trip for the movie this year? Yeah, they did, actually. They went to a little bit different place than last year, but those guys love that so much. They had to do that again. They actually went to a different lodge in the same region as last year.

How much did Hjorleifson film with you otherwise? He did that skinning trip with Abma for three weeks, and a six-week heli trip as well. He was just on fire, skiing super aggressive. He skied really, well; I’m pumped on what he did.

Last year you had an awesome Tahoe segment. Did you return this season? We didn’t film anything in Tahoe… unbelievably. It has to be the first time in ten or 15 years that we didn’t.

How about the skiers that are based out of Tahoe? Cody Townsend, Timy Dutton, and Ingrid Backstrom? Cody spent some time going to interior and northern B.C. Ingrid did film quite a bit. She came with us when we camped at a hot spring for a month near Meager. These natural hot springs are up in the mountains and only accessible by helicopter in the winter. Ingrid came with us, and she did really well. She skied with a lot of confidence and got a ton of good shots. We came out with some of the best footage I think she’s logged with us. She is stoked to be out there, and her confidence is really high.

So Alaska. The only thing we shot in Alaska was park. … A main reason why people want to go to Alaska is to ski spines, and a lot of the spines in Alaska weren’t filled in.

Is this the first time Matchstick hasn’t gone heliskiing in AK? You know, it must be. Besides our very first movie, a long, long time ago, I can’t remember a year we didn’t. I don’t know for sure, because we’ve made like twenty-five movies, but I can’t think of another year where we didn’t. Crazy isn’t it?

Enter British Columbia then? There were some great spines and more snow in BC. Everything is a little cheaper, you know? The operations in Alaska are some of the most expensive out there. I think we definitely found what we were looking for, and we didn’t have to spend as much to do it.

Which athletes are going to stand out this year? You know what? I think it is really tough to say. Everybody really killed it. The people who put in more time did better, but everyone skied really well this year. Specifically, I’d say Sean Pettit, Eric Hjorleifson, James Heim, and Bobby Brown put in quite a bit of time. Jacob Wester put in quite a bit more time than he had in the past, and Colby West put in a lot of work for his segment. I don’t think one person will really jump out, because everyone skied so well and put in so much effort.

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