Stories

Starting the season : Les Aravis

06. February 2016

The first shoot for La Nuit de la Glisse 2016. A ski segment featuring a star from the previous edition.

 

Athletes: Loic Collomb-Patton – Wille Lindberg - Matt Annetts

 

Travel Diary- Nuit de la Glisse film shoot

Les Aravis

 

Point of view of Thierry Donard, Director of the Nuit de la Glisse films.

Athletes:

Loic Collomb-Patton – Newly-crowned world freeride ski champion, the French rider from La Clusaz is back in front of the Nuit de la Glisse cameras for his comeback after an injury that cut his season short last year

Wille Lindberg - Known in the freeride world for his aggressive style, Wille is featuring in Nuit de la Glisse for the 2nd time

Matt Annetts – Nuit de la Glisse ambassador for many years, this snowboarder has not lost any of his feel for the snow and is back with even more drive!

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In January, I was just about to make one of my dreams come true: to start making my new film right at the start of the year.

It was a risky gamble; I hadn’t finished signing the sponsorship contracts, finalising the equipment partnerships or the completing the film’s pre-order contracts as I threw myself into this new adventure with a tiny budget. It’s impossible not to take risks in this business though…

Assigning myself so many different roles is not because I want to do everything my own way but because I don’t have a choice. I am the producer, director and chief operator and I have no one to complain to when I don’t get paid at the end of the month!

Anyway, I had already received the cameras that Sony were lending us to make the film- unreleased models for us to test out in extreme conditions- so I was armed and ready to start shooting. I just couldn’t wait any longer for the next adventure: a 30-minute drive to the Aravis mountain range! People sometimes criticize me for using helicopters to get the best shots and I admit that helicopters are not the most environmentally-friendly means of transport but wouldn’t shooting movies at the ends of the earth instead of in your backyard be even less eco?

This shoot in the Aravis would prove to be a special adventure in itself. As a Chamoniard more used to faces approaching the 4000m-mark, I discovered that the Aravis, at no more than 2800m, are a wonderful natural playground. At the start of the season, way more snow had accumulated in the Aravis range than on the Mont Blanc where I live.

Right from the first recon mission we found varied landscapes, faces littered with cliff bands, couloirs and big, untouched pillows.

It was also a challenge to kick off my new film with Loïc Collomb-Patton on his home turf…While filming with us last year he rode for just 23 seconds before being taken down by his own sluff and earning a one way ticket to hospital where they found he’d fractured his sacrum, costing him months of rehabilitation.

There we were in his hometown of La Clusaz, a resort in the heart of the Aravis. We opted to stay in a chalet only accessible on foot or by sled, perched high up in the mountains. As we set our cameras down inside we knew this was the perfect base for our shoot.

We learned at that point that we would have a particularly good weather window so we'd have three days in front of us to get the action shots in the bag. There were three athletes taking part in the shoot, all friends from last year’s film shoot: Loïc Collomb-Patton, Wille Lindberg and Matt Annetts.

The lines the riders chose quickly set the tone- full throttle- meaning we were able to make the most out of the favourable filming conditions. Our team of guides had to make some tough choices to ensure that we were always one step ahead of the risks. That's where the experience of the Nuit de la Glisse crew comes into its own: making the right calls, being able to back down from overly dangerous lines without retreating too far into the comfort zone either.

The first session went off without a hitch and we came away with some great shots in the bag. This consolidated the already strong bonds between the members of a team that I would call on for many more shoots to come. We were also able to capture the good atmosphere surrounding these riders and friends as they stayed together in a mountain hut tucked away from the rest of the world at the start of winter. Adventure was literally on our doorstep.

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