Entrevista a Sweetgrass Productions


Nick Waggoner es el director del documental  “Signatures”, y uno de los colaboradores detrás de “Sweetgrass productions“. Hace poco, Niseko Tourism nos presentaba una entrevista con él, para hablar de este documental gravado en Niseko. Él y su equipo estuvieron gravando allí todo el invierno pasado, cosa que, por supuesto, merceció la pena, dando como resultado un magnífico reportaje con “sello Sweetgrass”.

signatures

Debajo la entrevista haciendo hincapié en la elección de Hokkaido y sus desafios a la hora de trabajar en este excelente paraje.

Michael Brown

1) Why Hokkaido?

1) Hokkaido’s been on our radar for years as a powder mecca. Beyond snow there’s the cultural element, the onsens, the food– there are too many reasons to list. The more we discovered about Japanese culture and the connection to the seasons, the more it meshed with our desire to make a film based in one location. The unique culture gave us the framework for telling a story, and sharing our art. Hokkaido is a fascinating place on so many levels– the proximity and influence of the ocean, the distinct seasons all under the shadow of Yotei. I’ve heard a couple people refer to it as a “power spot” and the idea that Yotei has a large impact on the local energy and people.

2) What is your filming set up?

2) We had three Panasonic HVX 200 cameras, which are ultra-delicious true HD cameras. It weighs in at about 6 pounds, plus a 8 lb tripod, plus batteries, walkie talkies, and the usual backcountry gear brings our pack weight to an awkward 25 lbs. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re hiking for every shot, it destroys your back and your soul.

3)What is the best thing about filming here?

3) The best part about Hokkaido is the consistency and quality of snow, for sure. As filmmakers, it’s a crucial part of the equation, and that and the people shape their lives around it are our currency. Likewise, in Hokkaido the mountains are friendly compared to our mountains in Colorado. It takes an hour to get on top of a peak rather than 3 or 4, and the snow is 100 times more stable avalanche-wise.

Umm, the onsens? Hokkaido was designed for backcountry skiing– good water, good snow, and relaxing onsens.

4) What are some challenges?

4) When it snows every day, flakes on the camera lens get old real fast. We just get destroyed by snow on a daily basis– we were literally drowning in it, and it’s hard on the mind and body to be that consistently challenged.

Likewise, making a film is like an endurance race fueled by ramen. 4 hours of sleep is sometimes a good night, and the work rarely lets up from December to April. 6 days a week, 7 days a week, 4am to 10pm. Exhausting, and definitely trying on relationships in and outside of Sweetgrass.
There’s so much that goes into a film that people don’t realize. We are doing it so much, that it consumes or life– there is nothing else but, ski, film, eat, sleep. In the heart of winter, it’s 100%, full commitment.

Signatures Premiere in Niseko Opening Day Niseko Village.

Michael Brown

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Expongo también otra entrevista que viene a complementar a la anterior, y lo hago para destacar la otra visión que Nick Waggoner ya tenia en mente cuando salió licenciado en 2008, con ganas de crear su propia compañia de documentales de esquí. Su receta incluia menos “hip-hop”, menos presencia exlusiva del elemento deportivo en si,  y mas un toque  enraizado en la cultura de los lugares, con su gente,  con sus historias, con sus detalles, … dando un punto artístico único “made in Swettgrass”.

Michael Brown


When Nick Waggoner graduated from Colorado College in 2008 with a documentary film degree, he had big dreams to start a ski film company. But his vision was different than the typical ski porn—less hip-hop and rail sliding, and more deep-country blues and face shots. Sweetgrass films leave a different kind of impression on the audience—and Nick is quickly discovering what that is. Sally Francklyn caught up with Nick on the road to talk about Emmy Awards, sushi, and a technicolor school bus.

Tell me about the recent award Sweetgrass Productions received.

We were in Montreal for the International Freeski Film Festival, or IF3. The audience is packed with a ton of 15 to 16-year-old jibbers—definitely not our typical audience, but these kids are the heart of the industry—that younger, urban crowd. We ended up winning Best Cinematography—we essentially won an Emmy for a ski movie. It was a total surprise.

Why were you surprised? The shots look pretty great to me.

It was a surprise because our film was so different. The cinematography, the music—everything was a totally different experience for the audience. It was so hard for me as the filmmaker to sit there, anxiously thinking “I don’t even want to be here. Nobody likes it.” I was totally bummed out. I skipped the awards ceremony and went out in Montreal with some friends. The next morning, I checked my email in the airport, and found out we had won for best cinematography. I was blown away. We won, but not only that, we beat out the best in the industry—Matchstick, Rage, everybody.

Was there a panel of judges, or did the audience vote American Idol style?

There was a panel of judges—J.F. Cusson, Eric Iberg, and Guillaume Lahure. Each of these guys represent athletes, the film community, and the ski industry. We were also given the judges score cards, so to see that we received 29 out of 30 points was pretty cool. It’s crazy to think that I was watching J.F. Cusson throw Japan airs in movies when I was a kid, and having him judge my film was an awesome experience.

What’s it like traveling the country in a fixed-up short bus?

I live in that thing with my four best friends—it’s like a little family. We’ve been on tour since September 17, and every day has been an adventure. It’s like summer camp—we sleep in the same space, and play jokes on each other all day long. Being on tour is definitely tiring, but bringing the film across the country allows us to receive so much feedback. And, the rainbow-bus is such a huge icebreaker—six-year-old kids and 60-year old hippies want to come up and talk about the bus and the film. It’s really cool to connect with our audience like that.

What’s your favorite Japanese treat?

Salmon roe, or Ikura-yum.

Michael Brown

Niseko Tourism

Skiing magazine

Michael Brown

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