By Tim Jones
I would say that the most difficult part of production for our Epic TV series “Quest for the Best” was the planning. Not only getting in touch with all these different ski resorts to get the clearance to come shoot there, but lining up athletes (who we often didn’t know personally) and trying to schedule everything to work within a tight shooting schedule. It was tough.
During this daunting phase, when we often were nervous if we could pull it off, we knew one thing: one of the best terrain parks in the country (if not the world) was only thirty minutes from our office: Park City. That was going to be stop number 1. Luckily, we knew plenty of awesome skiers who were more than willing to join us for the two days of shooting. We ended up with a huge crew of diverse park skiers. At this point, we knew that the skiing talent would sell itself in episode 1. That’s always nice.
Next came contacting the resort. After getting put in touch through a few friends, we successfully contacted Jeremy Cooper, overseer of all things terrain park at Park City. He was more than accommodating—and after some juggling of dates, we figured out a Tuesday/Wednesday between two big competitions that would work.
When the shoot finally came around, everything went flawlessly. We had perfect weather, big jumps, and a huge crew of skiers. We were able to work with the resort to get an hour of “sled laps” before the resort opened. With multiple snowmobiles quickly bringing the skiers back up to the drop in point, sled laps are the most efficient way to film park skiing. For our sled lap session we focused on the biggest jump at Park City, the last jump in their Kings Crown park. Most of the skiers hadn’t even hit this jump yet this year, so Jon and I could tell nerves were high. After all of them straight-aired it a few times, Giray Dadali stepped up to show everyone how manly he is by airing a big, perfect, switch 9. After that, it was on. Everyone was stoked and throwing their biggest tricks.
Once they got into their groove, I was staying mostly in one place shooting the FS700 on a tripod. Jon would run the 5D Mark III on the Glidecam and do follow-shots with the skiers and then take the snowmobile up. We’ve found that shooting this way gets a good variety of shots to cut together in the edit. We also had Tara Roberts acting as our assistant for the day, which was a huge help getting all of our gear around the mountain.
After the morning session, the resort opened and we started picking individual rails and jumps to shoot on. At this point, Jon and I were set up at each location and the skiers would either stay and hike (the more ambitious ones who wanted lots of shots) or just take laps on the chairlift. In day one, we got a lot of quality content, and pretty much filmed every worthwhile feature in Kings Crown. We definitely could have made an episode just out of that day, but wanted to come back the next day to finish our interviews, and get some shots in the other terrain parks at the resort.
Our skiing crew was much smaller on day two, with just Giray Dadali, Tosh Peters, and Tim Gage. We started the day off interviewing Jeremy Cooper (who was great to work with). After that, we went up and filmed in Park City’s “Neff Land” a small terrain park with unique features such as candy cane shaped rails. After that we rounded out the day in Park City’s most popular and medium-sized park, “3 Kings”.
Looking back on the whole series, I think that the Park City shoot went the best out of all of them. Although it got the second-least amount of views, I think it’s still my favorite episode of the series (except maybe Aspen). Even though we lucked out with weather, we could have easily re-scheduled if we got snowed out…a luxury we didn’t have at the other resorts. At Copper, for example, we only had two days to shoot and the weather was completely socked in. The biggest take-away from the production side of things is that the more planning you do for shoots like this the better they come out. The one-hour of sled laps we had with beautiful morning light is what really made the Park City video pop. Generally by the time ski resorts open, the good light is already gone. And they usually close or are in the shade before the evening light.
All in all we had a great time shooting at Park City. A huge thanks to all the skiers who came out. Giray Dadali, Tosh Peters, Tim Gage, John Kutcher, Etienne Merel (who is from France but just happened to be staying with John at the time of the shoot), Trevor Akimoto (who flew into Salt Lake the morning of day one and was on the hill filming with us by 1PM), Luke Perin, and Cody Perin. Also a big thanks to Tara Roberts for being our assistant for the day. Finally, Jeremy Cooper and Park City were great hosts.
Without further ado, here is the Park City episode: