So stoked that our full movie just dropped, get it here, just click on the link below!
Tag Archives: Whiteroom Productions
Yes you, Mr and Mrs reader, hey!
Wondering how a skier passes a summer in London? This is how...
Play chess against a chess master in a boxing ring with disco lights, (click pic for video)
Go to ski movie premiers with other pros that are in town
Bike 200km a week, on a 5 speed roadbike from 1965, until you finally admit that you're going to have to invest in something a little more modern.
Go to the indoor ski dome to jib
Sail from Portsmouth to Le Havre (France) with a crew of Swedish girls
Go to tower bridge, a festival and a football game
And get stoked for the release of Whiteroom Productions new movie, featuring yours truly and premiering in Innsbruck on October 22nd, check out the trailer that has already clocked up over 40,000 hits on the tube
When I watched ski movies growing up I always thought that it was some kind of magic. I thought that the guys and girls featured in them got magically transported to the sunniest spots with the best snow, a really talented filmer/editor and then stomped everything first time without fear or hesitance. Turns out it's not like that, a lot of luck and hard work have to come together to turn all the effort of getting there and timing it right into a usable shot. Only one thing needs to go wrong with the skiing, filming, snow conditions, timing, weather or light for the shot to be demoted to B roll status, where hopefully something about it will be funny and then it can roll with the credits. I know that this is a bit of a typical rant and I will end it with the sterotypical 'but getting the shot makes it all worthwhile' line, but I guess I'm writing it for people that ever wondered what actually goes on behind the scenes of ski movies, 'cause it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. So let me tell you a story about the last film trip of the year that I went on, to film for Whiteroom Productions next movie with Raphi Webhofer and filmer Jonas Abenstein.
So we were meant to be flying to Norway for a week of touring and a bit of heli time, but just before we were meant to go the weather forecast told us that it was going to be snowing for pretty much every day that we would be there. So last minute we grabbed the Whiteroom Productions camper van and headed over the border to St Moritz and the Engadin Valley. Raphi and I had already been there on separate trips during the season, but since they had had the biggest total snowfall in over 50 years and had mainly sun in the forecast for the next week it was an opportunity not to poke a ski stick at. The photo above is of us checking out the sunset on the first night after scoping some lines, glad that we had made the difficult call not to chase the expensive dragon to Norway. The photo below is the line that we had found and decided to ski together- an exposed shelf finishing in a compulsory air, that turned out to be bigger than it had looked through our binoculars, and with a rockier take-off and landing.
So where to from here? I wanted to ski more faces because I'm not as good at tricks as Raphi and he had been getting better shots than me. We met up with local friend Lukas Swieykowski to check out some new zones and I found a line that I have to ski one day, full on life goal. The light had run out by the time I saw it, but it will still be there next year.
Lukas put us up for a couple of days while he was showing us around, thanks buddy! We found this zone with him too, and salivated, all picking different lines off the bat.
My good ski buddy @raphaelwebhofer on top of a peak we toured near St Moritz in April, and on a better day this caption would've read something cheesy like 'the days we ski for'. We'd been living in a camper for a week looking for lines to film for #whiteroomproductions before finally finding this zone, but the variable snow sent Raphi to hospital with a broken hip after a scary fall. Shaken after helping the medics load him pale but smiling into the heli I was left contemplating what rewards we were looking for in return for these risks, and how I'll feel next time I stand on top of a serious line. Midsummer has been and gone since then without a conclusion reached, other than that the goddess of snow can be a feisty and unreasonable mistress, and it is something in that renders me helpless- unable not to heed her call when she beckons.
Here are a couple of magazine articles that got published recently, I got an interview in the Chill magazine about my season on the FWT, with photos by Tom Platts, Mickey Troja and Martin Erd, as well as an article that Tove Kockum and I wrote about our trip to South America last season, it'll be getting published online soon too! Grab a copy of the magazines of a ski selling shelf near you to check them out in full.
It's been an epic start to the season here in Innsbruck- I haven't skied a November in the Northern Hemisphere before and I didn't know it would be this good. The Austrian glaciers have been treating me really well, and I've been lucky enough to ski better-than-average conditions for this time of year. A big thanks to the Innsbruck crew, especially Fabi, Jochen, Julian and Lukas for giving me a place to stay and a ride to the mountains, as well as the rest of the crew for being so fun to shred with!
For a start check this out, my FWT buddy Raphi Webhofer filmed me ranting about Komperdell poles and protectors while wearing my new Surfanic Hunter Jacket and Eaton Pant, I put an edit together and they put it on the front page of their website! I think they are the biggest pole company in the world so I'm stoked, check out the comedy edit- it includes unused helmet cam footage from the For a Few Lines More movie as well as super recent footage from the Innsbruck glaciers with me in the new Surfanic gears.
Also check this out, I got another poster from Fischer this year! Thanks for the pic Klaus P, Downdays.eu bossman.
Here's another few of my favourite instagram pics that I've got since I've been here, already captioned on the right side:
And check it out I got the cover image of the Planks team edit! Rocking out in my favourite Surfanic gears from last year- blue Blasted jacket and white Prime pants.
Can you handle more content? This is another video promo that I filmed and edited to help promote the launch of Dr Zipe's new goggle the Headmaster. It's got some of my favourite pow shots from South America, along with my Fischer teamate Niki Salencon. This is the last of my South America content really, but my love affair with that place is going to continue.
I'm here training for another week and then embarking on a trip that will take me Innsbruck-Stockholm-Christchurch-Vancouver-Revelstoke-Vancouver-Stockholm-Innsbruck before 2014 hits. On the way I will attend/organise the NZ Premier of 'For a Few Lines More' (check out the poster below), compete in the Freeride World Tour stop at Revelstoke, achieve frequent flier status and drive a car from Sweden back to Innsbruck with my beautiful girlfriend Tove. Gonna be a good one!
So I last left you in Portillo ski resort, having just crossed the border from Argentina, and had a couple of amazing days skiing powder to start off our Chilean experience. We followed it up another overnight drive, as was the theme of the roadtrip to avoid paying for hostels every night. Tove and I ended up on the sunrise shift again as we came through the green plains en route from Santiago to Pucon as the local scenery continued to impress. Chile is much greener than Argentina since the weather systems come from the west and lose most of their heavy moisture in the form of rain to enable themselves to rise above the mighty Andes. This is the same situation as exists on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand and the views felt closer to home than Europe, with the exception of the exclusively Spanish signs.
We arrived in Pucon 13 hours later in the morning of a beautiful sunny day and were immediately awestruck by the landscape dominating volcano the seemed to fill the sky of the ’Center of the south of Chile’. Skiing off the summit was the last of our main goals for the roadtrip, which the others at our cosy hostel seemed to think was a big deal- that had already or were planning to take a guided tour up there including renting an ice axe, crampons, a guide and a hilarious shovel-like apparatus to sit and slide down on. The fear of alpine conditions had been drilled into them from all angles, which I assumed to be partly justified and partly to convince them to pay for the expensive tour. They didn’t know what to make of us when we said that we were just going to ski tour up, and then went to bed nice and early since they had be up at 6 and leave by 7am in the guides van. We planned to leave at 9 but ended up getting up at that time, having a leisurely breakfast, sorting out our gear and eventually leaving the hostel at 11. This meant that by the time we arrived at the gate to the national park and tried to pay entry fee the park warden told us we were too late and not allowed to begin climbing.
Not discouraged we took the other fork of the road to the ski area carpark instead, which although lower meant that we were able to sneak onto the lifts and save about an hour of touring time, definite win and cheaper, thanks Mr Park Ranger. We enjoyed the sunny and windless day and commented more than once about how incredibly lucky we had been with the weather on this trip, along with everything else! Sometimes things just don’t go your way, but this week had definitely not been one of those times. Even the guys that had to skip the volcano to do some work during the day (who worked by distance and hadn’t told their boss that they were going on a road trip) enjoyed a beautiful day in the sun as they caught up on emails.
We eventually caught up with one of the guided tour groups, who eyed us warily as if we were an unpredictable foreign species with unfamiliar sticks on our feet instead of shovels under our bums. To be fair to them we had been lucky that it was one of the warmest days of the Spring so far, meaning that we were able to keep our skis on until about 50 metres short of the summit, where the icy moonscape finally forced us into bootpacking the last of the summit ridge. I’ve heard that luck favours the brave though, and that you make your own luck, two quotes that I assume came from inconceivably lucky people. Even so we were feeling so smiled upon by lady luck that day and week that we could probably have penned another few sayings about how luck comes to those who smile back, but we were too busy taking time lapses and getting sunburnt.
The clouds began to roll in as we admired the view from the summit but this only provided an even more spectacular backdrop for the skiing pics that we snapped on the way down, and we were nearly back to the carpark by the time they actually enveloped us more the mystical looking short walk back to the car. That night we rewarded ourselves with a restaurant meal (and personally an 800 gram steak), followed by a visit to the local natural thermal springs and a swim in the neighbouring snowmelt river. Chile you are amazing.
The next day we drove back to Bariloche, across a Chilean-Argentinean border that turned out to be a gravel road. We got thoroughly lost, to the growing distress of the two crew that were trying to get back to work, and the growing enjoyment of us that had nowhere to be and got to see traditional farming villages, wild animals swimming and a pair of Condors playing together in the wind. We saw the local Gauchos (Argentinean cowboys with traditional bright clothing and berets) rounding up cows with their horses, open farming houses brimming with chickens and turkeys, waited out a wild sheep roadblock and eventually had to ask directions in our limited Spanish before giving the Kangoo a push to get it up the last hill back to the road to civilisation. This was one of my favourite parts of my whole trip for sure, a paradise for us tourists in a place that tourists never seem to go, given the way the farmer looked at us when we asked him for directions.
Once we made it back to a sealed road we were also treated to the 7 lakes road back to Bariloche which is the more well known beautiful drive in the area. Cruising the smoother road in the warm afternoon sunrays gave us some time to think and talk about the amazing experiences and luck that we had had over the past week, filling our bellies with the warm contented feeling of chances taken and gambles paid off.
The next few days in Bariloche felt mellow in comparison, spring conditions had set in and we enjoyed some casual laps in the park, hitting some rails felt nice but also weird after spending most of the last 3 weeks in the backcountry! Niki lent me his Big Stix 100 to ski park which still felt pretty small after so long on my 192cm Big Stix 122, the only ski I took to South America J He also showed us a follow cam video of what he had been up to in the Van Titter valley (between Cerro Catedral resort and the Refugio Frey valley), scoring the same storm that we had got in Portillo, check it out here!
And suddenly it was time to get the bus back to Buenos Aires for our flight, which this time we took with the American crew that we had done the road trip with. Another 22 hour ride in first class bus comfort, check my earlier blog for pics to see what I mean. The Americans also invited to stay at their place in the city where they live when they’re not in Bariloche and it turned out to be a bit of a mansion, even city rent is cheap in Argentina! As long as you take cash to exchange at the black market rate kiddies, remember that. We enjoyed a night out partying the night before we left too, even though it was a Monday, and still managed to get kicked out of a club. I feel like we fitted as much as possible into the month we had there, but there is still so much to see and do and I already can’t wait to go back!
We weren’t quite as lucky with our airport check in on the way back to Europe and had to pay for our obscenely heavy ski bags, but I figured out that I’m going to get frequent flier status on Star Alliance by the end of this year too so that put me in a better mood, airport lounges and a free ski luggage for me next year! We got to Munich and took an airport transfer to Innsbruck, gaping at the first world and how unfamiliar and unnecessarily over-developed and clean it was in comparison. It was Oktoberfest too which added an even weirder element of drunker tourists that seemed over ready to throw their money at anything vaguely amusing, and we hoped that we hadn’t resembled them in South America.
Our stoke began growing again soon though because we were on our way to Innsbruck for the premier of ‘For a Few Lines More’ at IF3 (the International Freeski Film Festival), the ski movie that I am in courtesy of Whiteroom Productions and Fischer. We arrived in time to hang out and catch up with the crew, drink beers and smile before heading to the cinema together. The movie theatre was the biggest one they had and sold out which felt really good after all the effort that we put into the film, and I was stoked to see myself on a proper bigscreen for the first time. We got up on stage with the producers and director to talk about our parts in the film and the trips we went on before it showed too and it really seemed like people cared about what we had to say, or maybe it was just because we were about to throw a bunch of free stuff off the stage at them.
I was stoked on the film, here are the tour dates and trailer, then it’s dropping online for free in spring! I’m already motivated for an even better part next year and we’re looking at trips to Canada, Iran and Norway to try and be a bit more organised than the pre-heli library session that Fabi and I had to do in Canada last year :-P
Tour dates: http://www.alp-con.net/alp-con-cinematour-2013/tourplan.html Plus I'm trying to organise one at Winnie Bagoes in Christchurch, NZ on the 5th of December too. Here's the trailer, check my facebook page to see what shots are of me at facebook.com/NeilWillimanskiinghuman
So then it was time to be one of the tourists and check out Oktoberfest on the way home, it was a cool thing to do once, but be warned that the 1 litre handles of beer are also 7% because it got the best of me and I missed the last train back to Innsbruck, now I owe Fabi a big favour for picking me up from the Germany/Austria border.
I got back to Sweden in time to make the most of the warmest Autumn that Tove has seen in a long time and had to spend a lot of time on the computer organising the season and updating my website etc. But now it’s done, I’m now skiing for Dr Zipe, Komperdell, Pieps and Quiver Killer Inserts as well as my long time sponsors of Fischer, Surfanic, Planks and Incline, so stoked! And as I write this I’m on way back to Austria to meet Pieps and get free avalanche training with the team, a perfect pre-season session. Check out the Skiers Left foundation if you want to know more about freeride specific avalanche safety. So I’ll be skiing again in a few days on Sölden glacier and then staying in Innsbruck for the rest of the season! With the exception of competition and filming travels that I’m equally excited about J Bring on the good times! To all of you out there about to head off on a season as well- have fun and stay safe, hope to see you out there!
This is what the trailer looks like! It got released recently, and I'm pretty stoked. Check it out below, as well as the wee montage I made of which shots are me. Enjoy!
And this is how it felt to help make it:
This was my first season filming with a pro ski movie company. I always thought that the film trips would be entertaining; an easily captured adventure with ups and downs, crazy characters met along the way, a lot of laughs and everything always working out in the end, like an episode of 'Family Guy'.
It turns out that they are difficult to plan, hard work and sometimes just don’t turn out how you want no matter how hard you try. Like trying to get laid. But this just means that it feels even sweeter when it works out and you get the moneyshot.
‘Whiteroom Productions‘ is the film company, named after their successful debut movie 'Time for the Whiteroom' from last season. The man behind the camera and in the editing suite for both movies is Simon Platzer of SP Films. They are Austrian based and film mostly with Austrian skiers (and sometimes snowboarders), but I was lucky enough to get the invite this season after meeting them when they visited New Zealand, thanks in large part to my Austrian based ski sponsor Fischer.
After seeing their first movie I was really impressed at what they were achieving on a pretty limited budget, and they took it to the next level this year, turning up in New Zealand and camping on the Tasman Glacier below Mt Cook (NZ’s highest mountain) for a week and touring/climbing to all the lines that they shot. The weather forecast was pretty unfriendly but they stayed anyway and it turned out they were just high enough that it snowed there while it rained on all the ski resorts in the country- and then went unexpectedly bluebird. I was pretty inspired by their get-it-done attitude and thanks to the financial nod from Fischer I found myself on a plane with them on the way to Canada to film for a couple of weeks.
First sights of Canada
The reputed new powder haven of Canada was our first stop. Fabi (Fabian Lentsch) and I were pretty happy to finally arrive after the 9 hour Greyhound bus ride from Vancouver. We were actually a day late as well, as we had been denied boarding on our flight from Barcelona when we arrived 55mins before departure (instead of an hour), resulting in a day long man-date in the city. This was just after a 4* FWQ competition in Andorra including an afterparty where my wallet was stolen, preceded by a 14 drive from Innsbruck. So we were happiest to see the hostel beds for a night, to prepare for the upcoming week of solid film days.
The experience of the others having been there for a couple of days already meant we knew exactly where to go though, Dani (Daniel Regensburger), Jochen (Mesle) and Simon (Platzer, of Simon Platzer films) took us directly to the Cat Skiing area which borders Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The avalanche danger was high and there had been a recent death in the backcountry so we were confined to the trees for the first few days, but they provided the pillow powder goodness of my Canadian dry dreams in abundance.
One of the sick pillow zones
A blunt and to the point Canadian sign
Jochen walking the pillow talk
Fabi's turn to go big on the pillows
I was struggling to get used to my new touring setup at first, and since touring to film lines means only 3 or 4 get done a day it took a couple of days to start feeling it. Dani got unlucky and landed on a tree so hard that it broke the heelpiece of his boot, meaning he had to ski rentals for the rest of the trip but Jochen style-mastered off everything and Fabi started getting ridiculous, picking and stomping some of the rowdiest tree/pillow lines I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. After 3 days in this zone the filmable lines were becoming sparse, and we were creeping closer and closer to the terrain that cat skiing clients were paying to ride. The cat skiing groomer drivers and guides that had turned a blind eye to us until now eventually gave us a pretty clear indication that they wanted us to move on, which Fabi bore the brunt of pretty well. A new adventure was needed.
The friendly ex-patriot German who ran the hostel we were staying in in Revelstoke knew a guy who had built his own mini snow cat, which he called his ‘kitty’. Just over half an hour drive from Revelstoke is a snowmobile-permitted, easy access backcountry area that the locals politely asked us not to name here. The guy with the kitty also had a snowmobile (‘sled’ in Canadian) and a big tent and would take us all to the top for a price. It was a match made in Canadian heaven and our new adventure was found.
Dani Following the sleds
Our entourage with all the kit
This mystery mountain wasn’t one to put out one the first date though, and she made us work for it big time. The kitty and the sled both broke down at some point on the first day and there was so much snow from the last storm that it was difficult to get around on them even when they were going, or even to ski tour instead. The first zone we got to looked good but all the landings were flat as a car park and confiscated our skis more than once. Pitching the tent that would be our home for the next few days in the near-dark wasn’t easy either, and the cooker that we had didn’t do much to heat the inside, meaning that any wet clothes not worn in the sleeping bag froze solid overnight. There wasn’t a lot of talk over breakfast and our boots were about as easy to put on as a straightjacket.
Camo-Jeremy fixing the kitty, tent in the background
Nightlife in the tent
Once we got out and about though we realised that we had made the right choice. Rising majestically above a sea of valley fog the sail shaped peak we beheld wouldn’t have taken a ship anywhere on the calm, sunny day that greeted us. Better zones were found, friendly locals with sleds were met (as we could only afford the kitty and sled for the first day of our 3 day tent-venture) and the snow stayed cold even though it was sunny. One of my favourite moments was taking a photo of Jochen where he is barely visible, choked and blinded by the powder at the very top of his line. It didn’t really matter what you did here- a turn was a faceshot, or pointing it through the pillows caused powder explosions every landing. It was lucky that the lines up here were too short to present any serious exposure, lines could be scoped and sent with a ‘hold on through the powder blindness’ attitude, followed by hoots, hollers and high fives.
Neil discovering the morning man in himself
The ultra zone
Neil's last line of the trip
And then it was all over. We were packing up the tent and skiing back down to the road, which was one of the longest runs of my life. I knew I was touring fit by then because I could still enjoy the heavy snow at the bottom of the run with a heavy pack on. We had scored.
The long trudge out
A collage of memories form the trip, get at me on instagram, instagram.com/neilwilliman
Jochen stoked on the whole trip
The next film trip would be to the Whistler backcountry, with even more ups and downs than I could have imagined on the way. Our organisational skills and luck would be tested even more rigorously by my new acquaintance, the rough loving snow goddess of ski film trips. And for that story kiddies, you will have to wait until next time, because that’s enough excitement for one night.
These words were by me, Neil, and the pics by me, Jochen Mesle, Fabi Lentsch, Dani Regensburger and Simon Platzer.
So I got an iPhone and instagram...
For those of you who know me well you may be surprised. So I thought I would post this video to make fun of myself. And I guess I'm now an Instagram likes whore as well so if you enjoy these words or video get at me with a follow http://instagram.com/neilwilliman
Or click this picture to get there, it's one of my favourite lines that I skied on our film trip in the Whistler backcountry for Whiteroom's new movie 'For a Few More Lines', and was generously donated from my freeski and film buddy Pete Oswald's website, which is also worth a look, peteoswald.co.nz
The trailer for the movie comes out in the next few days so you'll get to see a bit more of this shot in it, but you'll have to wait till the premier in September to see if I stomp it...
But for now you can read all about the Revelstoke film trip that we did in the article of mine that NZSkier just posted, check it out at http://www.nzskier.com/new-zealand-skier-features/neil-williman-canada-film-trip-blog/
Stay tuned for the 'For a Few More Lines Trailer'!