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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
An urban segment like no other

By Olivia Dwyer
ESPN.com

If you're a skier and you've been online recently, JP Auclair needs no introduction. When his urban segment from Sherpas Cinemas' film "All.I.Can" hit cyberspace, it garnered 124,000 views its first day live. Auclair is living in Switzerland this winter, where the Canadian spoke to ESPN about making that segment last winter in BC.

What did you set out to do in your "All.I.Can" segment?
I was expecting to show up to something pre-planned, and Dave [Mossop, cinematographer and co-director of "All.I.Can"] was under the impression that I was going to show up and start doing things right on the spot. When we realized we were both counting on each other and neither of us had anything really tangible planned, we panicked for a bit. We just figured we would get the ball rolling. The first shot we got was the super long shot down Cedar Street in Nelson. The whole location was the idea of [co-director] Eric Crosland, who lives in Nelson. He was always saying there are opportunities to do long skiing-down-the-streets shots. After we got that we decided to really commit to the whole long run concept.

Dave Mossop filming JP Auclair in BC.

How did you try to work the climate change theme in?
We'd shoot something and not realize the different layers of messaging that were there. We started editing the segment as we were filming. When we saw that there was a real theme of snow melting and missing snow, then we started paying more attention to those opportunities as well and planning the whole shot and putting it together with that whole concept in mind.

Was it hard shooting with just the two of you?
There was one shot in particular that was incredibly hard for Dave to get. His camera was on a big mount like a swinging arm -- usually you have two people operating it, but he was by himself. He would be swinging the arm and doing a focus pull on this little water drop, and he would try to trigger it himself off the roof while I would ski down below through some leaves. It was pretty tricky and techy and geeky. I'd have to hike up literally 40 times so that he could do the right pan. He asked, 'Do you actually enjoy this stuff?' And I'm like, 'I love it, I totally see what you're going for.' He'd be like, 'Man, I can't believe I met a skier who's willing to geek out like that.'

How did people react to seeing you out filming in their town?
Each town was really different from one another. The coolest interactions were mostly kids who'd stumble upon the shoots. Once they figured out what we were up to they were super happy to lend a hand, get the whole run prepped and ready for the shot, and then they stayed and helped us make sure the streets were clear -- they were our spotters on the shoot. The people in Trail brought us smokies and chips one day to tell us to take a break because we'd been going a long time.

Any trouble?
We actually got busted. We got told to stop by police and the kids were like, 'Bummer, I guess you guys are taking off.' And I said, 'No, we've got to take it all down, we've got to take all the snow off the sidewalk and make it like it was before.' You're more likely to be able to shoot more if you leave everything like it was before. So they ran home and got their shovels, and helped us clean up the sidewalks and get it ready for pedestrians.

"All.I.Can" is being called a different kind of ski film. Did filming it feel that way?
With a lot of reviews from "All.I.Can," people are kind of ragging on ski porn, saying ski porn is nothing and the Sherpas are bringing story elements and other compelling aspects to the movie. It's true, but at the same time I just want to stress the fact that I totally enjoy ski porn and I believe it has its place in the whole industry. That's why I made my career out of it for 12 years. But now I kind of need a little more to be inspired than just shooting random shots for the entire winter. I think the Sherpas definitely had that different intention right from the get go.

"The big yellow bird -- Dave and I put it up," says Auclair. "We were all nervous about it, like, I hope they either don't mind or don't know it's us. The next day people walking by were like, 'Nice bird, guys.'"