The wind cuts straight to the bone. It could not give two shits about our PrimaLoft® GORE-TEX® or long underwear. It just rips through it all with a quirky, edge-of-the-continent benevolence. Canada’s most eastern province, Newfoundland and Labrador, is starkly beautiful, but on a grey, mid-February, wind-blown day, not so comfortable. We’re standing in what’s known as the Battery, a small collection of pastel-painted homes affectionately called ‘Jellybean Row’, at the edge of the capital city St. John’s harbor. Eighty kilometre per hour winds scream in from the North Atlantic. At -13 C, it’s the definition of cold. I just want to get back in the car. So does Dave.
Sherpas Cinema director Dave Mossop and I are location scouting. You’re right to guess it’s not for a sun screen commercial. Mossop is the visionary behind the now infamous JP Auclair street skiing segment from the movie All.I.Can, a film shot entirely in the West Kootenay cities of Trail, Nelson and Rossland, wants to make a sequel to the segment. For reasons of geographical grandeur, he wants to do it here, through the declivitous streets of downtown St. John’s. The city sees an average of 335 centimetres of snow every winter, is quaint and charming, with a litany of steep streets, rails and stair sets, everything you need for a great urban ski segment.
But that wind. “A seal would lose her pups out here,” quips our location manager, back inside her idling Volvo, she herself wearing a sealskin jacket and matching hat. In the three days of scouting, the weather goes from -13 C and blowing sideways, to -6 C and 25 centimetres of fresh snow—blowing the other sideways, to +8 C and raining upside down.
We leave Newfoundland feeling nervous and excited. If we pull it off, the piece has major potential. If we don’t, well, we might soon learn why no one has done a high- profile, ski segment in St. John’s before.
The world of the internet video short is a gladiator pit. Views being the metaphorical kills. And views are the metrics the purse string holders, titled as marketing directors or executive producers, Not so long ago—even four or five years—all you needed was an original idea and good execution. The landscape was relatively unoccupied. Today, however, the game is entirely different. Thousands of sport oriented videos are uploaded every month—everything from genius Nike commercials featuring famous athletes, through to Jerry of the Day compilations with views well into the tens of millions. YouTube alone sees 300 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day. Standing out not only takes extremely strong creative, but more and more, you need big budgets.
Back in the spring of 2011, when Dave Mossop and JP Auclair filmed their Kootenay street skiing segment, they didn’t have a huge budget, and just the two of them as crew. Regardless, they managed to hit the sweet spot
—that perfect confluence of cinematography, story and action. The five-minute piece has well over two million views and, perhaps more that that, serious acclaim as one of the best action sports segments ever filmed.