Snow Days: Just Walk Like a Penguin January 29, 2018

Snow Days: Just Walk Like a Penguin

Before I even had the chance to start my internship in the office, I met the Hidden Woods crew in a deserted ski parking lot in Morrison, Colorado at 5:45 to transfer into two cars to head to a shoot at Copper Mountain. When I arrived the sky was still pitch black, and I was also noting that it felt eerily like a thriller horror movie with the wind howling and the towering lamp posts which only had flickering lights. Either way, I was excited and ready for the day ahead.

On the long drive up where I rode shotgun, I had the opportunity to get to know Patrick, aka the Director extraordinaire, and as we discussed life, school, film, and the day ahead, I knew this internship would be a wonderful experience.

Making a pit-stop at Starbucks in Silverthorne, the crew — six of us — piled out of Pat and Dave’s cars to grab anything that could warm us up before the day ahead. As the coffee kicked in with the sun finally appearing on the horizon, everyone in the car made a comment about the breathtaking sunrise and scenery. And right on cue, the phone rang with Dave and Aidan asking if we could stop to get some b-roll footage. After a short back and forth between protest and reasoning with something along the lines of “the set up would take too much time” and “no, because we can’t be late,” we continued our trek up i-70 until we reached our destination. As we once again piled out of the cars a second time, more thoroughly bundled up in our winter gear, we hauled all of the equipment to the media/staging room.

That said, there were some items left in the car that warranted three or four more trips once everything was brought in, and an hour later, with everything set up, Pat and Dave made a game plan. Needing to get certain footage from both half pipe and big air events, Aidan and Diego split up while I went with Dave, Pat, and Cody.

To clarify, the half pipe doesn’t seem daunting, or like much of a walk until you’re hiking up that steep slope with a tripod, praying that you’re not going to slide back down. Somewhere in the process of traversing up and down the half pipe walkway, I definitely thought to myself: “I could really benefit from investing in a new pair of snow boots.” In a matter of a few hours, I became familiar with quickly setting up and breaking down the camera’s tripod, changing lenses, and penguin walking down the slippery, slushy walkway.

The morning consisted of watching some of the world’s best skiers take on the halfpipe and I recall the thought of being incredibly grateful that this is what I get to do, with these wonderful guys that were making jokes about their own skiing abilities. Those hours, while cold and slightly chaotic, still flew by. Watching competitor after competitor fly high above my head, doing flips, rotations, and other moves that I don’t know what to call, there were several cinematic shots to head back to the base of the mountain with.

We had made it halfway through the day and my mind was already awed with how much I had learned. Even from observation there were small details between various interactions that couldn’t be replicated in any staged setting. Needing to improvise on the fly and witnessing how to change tactics at the last minute to get the right shot already grew my understanding of film production.

Cut to lunch where everyone downed warm food — with the exception of Aidan who admitted his wrong choice of salad when everyone else joined him at the table. Over lunch, we had discussed a game plan for the second half of the day. After going up and down the half pipe so many times, Dave took the big air event which let us remain at the base of the mountain. Aidan then went to half pipe instead. By the time I was finally able to wiggle my cold stiff toes in my snow boots, we were ready to trek back outside.

I would be a liar if I said I was disappointed that I didn’t have to hike up that half pipe with the tripod again. I was delighted to be standing on some flat ground after lunch. Those hours switching lenses, changing angles, and transporting the tripod and taking in all of the surrounding activity seems like a blur. The ability to be so in the moment, to watch these beautiful scenes unfold with the camera rolling, and the rejoicing athletes at the bottom of the hill was exhilarating.

Truly, there was never a dull moment. And just when things started to slow down at the base, we found ourselves hiking up the mountain. Again. Admittedly, I focused on my steps not sliding back down in the soft snow. And just in the last few yards, I found the snow particularly uncooperative and as much as I desperately wanted to help get the tripod to the camera, my boots couldn’t get traction in the snow and there I was, sliding backwards once again. It felt like a Monty Python scene when the music is dramatically playing and even with someone running, they seem to just keep running forever and never make it any closer to their destination.

It was worth a good laugh though, when I finally made it up to meet the camera on that slope. It was perfect for the last few competitors of the day for the big air event on the mountain.

Rejoicing, we wrapped the day of filming. Standing on that slope, I was thrilled. Joining Hidden Woods, was no doubt, going to mean great things and good times. Throughout the course of the day, I had learned so much that could never be replicated in a class room. Beyond that, everyone begun to seem like sort of a family, in comparison to the relative strangers that I had met that morning.

And as all these thoughts and feelings ran through my head, I promptly lost my footing and fell over… and again, I recognized that “I should really invest in a new pair of snow boots.” But everyone laughed it off, with Dave also sympathizing as his shoes had completely soaked through from the snow.

Since this first experience with Hidden Woods, I have continued to learn even more in pre production, production, and post production. I look forward to every day I get to come into the office, and I look forward to every shoot I get to work on. I’ve become more proficient in several things since that shoot, but it was that day that I knew I had chosen the right company for my internship. While it’s not always setting up tripods, changing lenses, and moving c stands, they’ve allowed me to find my footing in this crazy world of film, and become a better person for it.