Seth Morrison Filming in Alaska
Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. Time for filming in Haines, Alaska that is. This year I am filming as a Stunt Skier in a Hollywood film called "Deep Winter". The footage from this film will also be used in our usual ski film format, so its a double dip you could say. We have an A-Star B2 that has been flown from it’s base in New Orleans to the Salt Lake City Area where the acting portion of the film was shot, which took a month and a half to shoot. Then for continuity reasons the Heli was flown up to Haines. This model Heli is what we skiers are used to using, and the pilot is experienced with flying in the Alaskan mountains. Riding with me is a snowboarder named Shin Campos, he is a Whistler, BC local and snowboard film star. The rest of the crew is Tom Burt another accomplished snowboarder whom is our guide, Tom Ericson a long time friend who I have traveled and filmed the world of skiing with over the years of my career. We have also had a still photographer along with us as well; we started off with Flip McCririck as well as a fill in. That would be one load to head out into the field with. Then there are 2 other cameras in the next load as well as another guide and 2 camera assistants. So there are many people to wait for while they get set up and into position. Weird to work with part of a crew that has not been in this environment. Trying to keep the flow of your normal procedure out there has been a test of patience. Yet another learning experience.
A typical day starts off with a 5am wake up to check the weather. If its good, breakfast by 6am and then trying to take off out of the airport by 7am. The best times of day for filming are 7am to Noon, then 2pm to 7pm. This is when the light is on the good snow as aspects, which are northeast facing in the morning and northwest in the afternoon. In the Middle of the day the sun is straight up and the aspects with good snow have no light on them. So we wait in the field or down at 33 mile (small restaurant near the Canadian border) or where ever is close by. On our first run we would normally do a snow check, where the guide digs a pit and checks on the snow stability, this could even be on a few runs and a few aspects when we have not been out for a while due to new snow. This year we have had 2 long 3 to 4 down day sessions where it has snowed over 3 feet per down time. This has made stability very bad due to non binding lower layers, and the fact that we have not had many blue days in a row to help the snow pack heal up. Basically it has been very sketchy and after each storm it just gets worse and deep amounts of snow sliding down. In these situations you try to find something that is safe to do, or you can work your way up from smaller to bigger, but sometimes that’s not the case. On our down days there is not much to do, we have internet so that helps kill time. Along with playing frisbee, golf, run, drink, play poker, small room work outs, etc. Being in a fishing village doesn’t leave many options for much else even when it’s raining.
The days towards the end of the trip have been worse weather and a never ending panic of trying to get something done. Snow stability has proven to be the biggest challenge. Many film crews have had their fair share of avalanche close calls. Even I took a ride on Easter Sunday; others were buried or took some sort of ride as well. This has made many pull back the reins for sure, reality check!! With increasingly deeper snow fall just making the situation worse and even larger slides on parts of the mountains never imaginable of sliding. Thus causing many crews to leave when they were supposed to. One day you were thinking you were staying an extra week and then the next your leaving on you original day of intended departure. All decided with in a 20-hour period. Nice to know that everyone up here has made it through the season, especially with all the bad things that have happen to fellow skiers and snowboarders this season. What a 05/06 season it has been. Thoughts go out to those that will not be part of the ones to come. Have a great summer everyone!