At last year’s High Five film festival in Annecy, France (this year’s edition coming up this weekend) Downdays editor David Malacrida watched a few movies that inspired him to start a project he’d been thinking about for a while. He set up a camera and a mic and started logging interviews with some of of his skiing heroes: Pep Fujas, Henrik Harlaut, Phil Casabon, JF Houle.
“I wanted to make a documentary about freeskiing,” David says. “I wanted to hear what people who ski had to say.”
David had been particularly impressed by the storytelling in Nimbus Independent’s “After the Sky Falls” and Clayton Vila’s “For Lack Of Better” — movies that ventured beyond the ski action to explore the context behind it.
“After seeing these movies, I was more confident to do my project,” he says. He wanted to film interviews with some of freeskiing’s biggest influencers, then capture some action shots over the winter to add to the movie—which is sort of the reverse of the usual formula for a ski movie (film a bunch of action, then get some interviews as filler). But David wanted to do things a different way, and focus on the stories that skiers had to tell.
“In the movies you usually hear, ‘We’re so stoked, we’re living the dream, we’re having fun,'” David says. “I wanted to go deeper than that.”
He didn’t end up bagging the action shots he wanted, but David did add interviews with two behind-the-scenes workhorses in the ski industry, Rafael Ragezzoni and Eric Iberg, as well as freeski filmer Emil Granöö. With High Five coming around again this week, David decided to release his interview footage in a documentary format, called “Let’s Talk About Freeskiing.”
David edited the interviews to create a free-flowing narrative, which ranges from how Pep Fujas got into freeskiing, to behind-the-scenes mover and shaker Raf Regazzoni breaking down today’s trends in the industry. Legendary filmmaker Eric Iberg describes how he got his start together with Tanner Hall, and JF Houle (who probably lost his voice at the party the night before) shares some of the hard realities behind his self-produced movie “Houligan.” Emil Granöö, B&E’s irreplaceable filmer, caps it off with some pure ski-bum stoke.
“I picked riders I really like,” says David. “Pep is one of the best riders of all time. Everyone watched Session 1242 and said, “Wow, freeskiing is so cool.’ It was cool to go from Pep to Henrik and Phil. JF was interesting with all the tricky aspects behind the scene.”
“You watch a movie and say, wow these guys have the perfect life. But some guys have no ski sponsor and are in the X Games or in a Level 1 movie. But they still continue to do it, and work in the summer just to make it happen. Showing all these aspects was part of this movie. It’s a choice — they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make them happy.”