You may remember the Sherpas from such films as The Fine Line and the Salomon Freeski TV volcano episode. The Sherpas recently released the trailer for their latest two-year project, "All.I.Can," which will debut next fall. Since the trailer went online, it's had over 180,000 views. With a solid year of filming under their belt, we caught up with Sherpa cinematographer Dave Mossop to talk about the film, time lapses and skiing into volcanoes.
ESPN Freeskiing: So "All.I.Can" is an environmental film? Fill me in.
Dave Mossop: When it comes to the environment, there is a staggering population of people who want to help but don't know how. They feel disempowered, too small to make a difference or just confused and uneducated about the whole issue. We got into this project so we could learn from people who know what they're talking about. How we've arranged the film, at its most basic level, is: "All" opens the film and is a grand view of our global situation. "I" is a segment about people who all love to ski, which builds into a display of epic skiing that showcases what we are capable of when we put our minds to it. "Can" gives us the simple environmental tools we can use in everyday life, as well as enough stoke to spark a riot.
In the trailer, there are shots from a helicopter, which burns something like 45 gallons of jet fuel per hour. How do you justify the use of one in a film like this?
Good question. We have to consider what toll the film production takes on the environment versus what good it will create. We believe in the potential of cinema to affect and catalyze. A truly astounding film can be influential, but a mediocre film will do next to nothing and just add to the pile of media garbage we all wade through everyday. If we can change even one person's energy consumption for the next 50 years, doesn't that represent some amount of compensation?
It does. You call your film 100 percent carbon neutral, but you no doubt took planes and cars to get to some of the destinations.
We are purchasing carbon offsets to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is the same way the 2010 Vancouver Olympics achieved carbon neutrality. We are making a film about a reality where sustainable energy is possible, but for now we need to use the contemporary systems that are in place. Even though the majority of the skiing in our film is accessed by foot, our project, of course, has a carbon footprint.
You're a master of the time lapse. Can you explain the most technically ambitious shot we'll see in "All.I.Can?"
One shot we did the other day was a rising-out-from-underwater-diagonal-dollying-time lapse with stop-motion animation in the foreground. We used a lot of sweet new custom gear for that one. I'm also working on some panning/dollying seasonal time lapses that span about six-month periods. I love time lapses. It's become an unhealthy obsession.
How many different kinds of cameras will be used for this film?
Oh man, the list is long: RED cam, Arri SR2 Super 16, Cineflex HD giro stabilized heli system, Phantom HD Gold, Redlake Highspeed system, Canon 7D, Canon 5D, Canon 20, Panasonic P2, and about a dozen GoPro HD headcams. How many is that? Ridiculous. Oh, and I like to shoot iPhone video too and catch some candid moments.
This is a two-year project with one winter left to film. Where have you been and where are you going?
Last winter was crazy busy, one place to the next: BC, Chile, Argentina, Morocco and Alaska. This year, we want to try and keep things near home (BC) and work on some challenging camera movements and next level imagery. One major focus of the film is the global situation, but a huge focus is on the honest reality of mountain lifestyle. Staying here in BC gives us the chance to get to the roots of our passions.
What's been the most memorable part of this project so far?
Skiing the volcano crater of Volcan Puyehue in Chile comes to mind. I visited the volcano 10 years ago while traveling after high school. I remember cresting the summit, looking out over the crater and my jaw just dropping like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It had been a dream to go back and ski it ever since, and last year we formed the most epic posse, hooked up with the raddest local guides and lucked out with a weather window delivered straight from heaven.