The new ski flick Halcyon Days from LORE Agency is an unexpected gift to the European freeski scene: 26 minutes of unadulterated shred with some of the continent’s steeziest individuals.
Last February, Seattle-based filmmaker Nick Meilleur of LORE Agency took a month-long trip through Europe, stopping at several of freeskiing’s local hot spots. After a frigid visit to Levi, Finland and a quick stop at Oslo’s Vinterpark, Meilleur made his way to the Alps to scope the scene in Innsbruck and finished the tour in Laax. Along the way, he logged more than his fair share of some of the snappier park skiing you’ll see this year from cats like Jacob Hyllengren Larsson, Joona Kangas, Eirik Moberg, Kai Mahler and more.
It’s obvious that Meilleur put some love into this project, so I gave him a ring to find out how Halcyon Days came into being.
Ethan Stone: Hey Nick! Can you tell us a bit about your background in filming skiing?
Nick Meilleur: It basically started at the Summit at Snoqualmie, which is a small resort in Washington near Seattle. I grew up skiing there with my buddies and started filming for fun, like we all did: making edits, posting them on Newschoolers, trying to make something cool for the community. I have family in France and I spent a lot of time there growing up, and after my undergrad I got into an masters degree in audio-visual communication in Grenoble, France, which helped me solidify some of the skills that I’d been building over the years and gave me a good foundation to keep moving forward. I kept filming skiing, got a job at K2, and worked there for two years making videos and social media content for them. About six months after I quit K2 I created LORE, a content marketing agency in Seattle. I partnered with my girlfriend on that. What she does is totally different, it’s food photography and stuff like that. The ski stuff I continued to do on the side, because it’s what I get super fired up about.
What was the genesis of Halcyon Days?
I’ve been planning it for around two years. After I left K2 I wanted to make a web series, so the four segments of the film would have each been a four or five-minute webisode type of thing. I couldn’t really find any sponsors, so I said fuck it, I’ll do it on my own dime. Torge Nagel, the K2 team manager in Europe, was super stoked on the project; he hooked me up with a hotel for a week in Innsbruck, and helped in a ton of ways so that I wasn’t producing the movie completely out of my own pocket. So he was a big part of the genesis, opening doors and bringing the budget down on my end. Same with Jiberish, they were super stoked on the project idea. That’s sort of how it went down, but it was pretty much a no-budget project that was on my own dime. Luckily I had a bunch of airline miles that allowed me to travel pretty cheap. I stayed with homies whenever I could, and just kind of made it on the cheap.
Tell us a bit about the spots you visited during your trip.
After getting to know Joona Kangas while I was working at K2, my original plan was to make a segment in Levi. That’s where Joona grew up, and I was always stoked on his skiing and his approach. He’s got such a unique style, and he’s such a fun skier to watch. The Oslo segment was tagged on kind of last minute when Jacob Hyllengren Larson invited me to come hang out for a bit. As far as Innsbruck, I knew that was a must-do. Joona, Anttu and some of the other Keeshlife guys go there for a month or two every winter, and I knew Torge and another friend, Lucas Mangold, are so hyped on Innsbruck. There’s so many cool resorts and sidecountry and backcountry spots there. Even though we didn’t get the best of snow, we made it work. It ended being more park than backcountry, although originally I was hoping for more backcountry. After filming with Kai in Innsbruck, he invited me to Laax for a few days of shredding around. It was a full month of filming overall. I don’t think we ever really took any days off, except one or two. It was pretty jam-packed, but it was a ton of fun.
Describe your filming style. What do you want your shots to say?
Good question. Ever since I’ve been filming skiing and producing content in general, I’ve always found it really important for there to be some good context and holistic perspectives into the people that you’re filming. Ski porn is good and it’s necessary, but I’ve always wanted to go deeper and learn more about the people and how the skiing fits into their lifestyle. That was a big aspect of this production. I tried to have a bit of a story line and some background on these people that I’m documenting. So I approached as more of a documentary with some ski filming.
Each rider has their unique style, but each location also has its unique flow. I love doing follow-cam gimbal shots, but even more than that I like shooting hand-held, kind of vérité style. I feel that is what gives it more of that gritty feel of being there in the scene, versus it being a perfectly robotic gimbal movement, where everything is super Mega Mo and crispy. Id’ rather have a more organic, soulful feel, where you actually feel like you’re visiting some of these places, or getting to know these people.
Will you be filming more skiing this winter?
I’d love to. Things are crazy because of the virus, but everyone knows that. This week I’ll be chatting with Torge and we’ll start looking around at what’s possible for next year. I’d love to make another one, I just need to find the right support in the industry, see who’s ready, and go from there.
Any Final thoughts?
Thanks for the interview! I was real stoked that a lot of folks seemed to like the film. I had a ton of fun making it, and I’d like to make some more!