We recently had a chance to catch up with Ben Zeimet from Hi-Line films. The guys are hard at working filming for their Fall 2013 release, “The Simple Side.”
Tell me more about the simple side. What is the premise behind the film?
“The Simple Side” follows a group of friends traveling and exploring the back country terrain Montana has to offer. Everything from 10,000 foot peaks, massive pillow lines, endless back country pow, and everything in between. Needless to say there will be no terrain parks or urban segments in this film. Many skiers and snowboarders wonder what Montana has to offer and their curiosity stops there. The lack of blue bird days, easy access, and variable weather keeps most winter enthusiasts away. That is the reason locals, like this crew, have stayed here to enjoy no lift lines and endless back country access with the guarantee of seeing more wildlife than people on any given day. That being said the level of riding in Montana is phenomenal. With no scene to speak of, the locals are left to their own devices without the encroachment of outside involvement. Nobody cares about your style or outfit. You will see a guy in blue jeans drop a 40 foot cliff and even make a lap in the park before stopping in for a tasty beverage, which is probably brewed in the closest town. To put it plainly, the Montana ski/snowboard culture is self sufficient and we hope to keep it that way. While making my first documentary “Why We Ride” I met an amazing group of riders who could hang with some of the best in the world. There answer to why they have never filmed anything before was simple: ”None of our friends owned a nice camera.” That is the reason we are making this film. To show the ski world that that there is still a simple side to the ski lifestyle. It doesn’t have to revolve around the newest gear, the biggest resorts, or the most expensive lattes. If you have a pair of skis or a board and a lift to the mountains, truth be told, that is all you need. I know most of the mountains we are attacking have never been filmed, most of these riders have never been seen, and that’s just how we like it. To us this is our home and we will continue to ride with the confidence that it is ours to keep. The other amazing part of this film is that all the riders will be riding everything from back country kickers to the big lines. We don’t have our freestyle guys and our big mountain guys. They all ride everything, and do so with the style that shows they don’t care what others think. That is “The Simple Side.”
Where is the simple side being filmed?
“The Simple Side” will be filmed in Montana. A small travel trip up to Revelstoke might be in order just for the sake of our love for the Canadians and their amazing terrain. The point of the movie is to show riders and terrain that the world has never seen before. That being said, a short sled ride or skin track is all we need to access world class terrain.
How many riders will you be filming with for this project? Where are the riders from?
The film follows T.J. Andrews and his group of friends. All of us live in Montana with the exception of a new addition, Danny Arnold, which rides for the same ski company (Epic Planks) as one of our riders, Jake Fagrelius. Danny lives in Whistler. The full line up is as follows: T.J. Andrews, Jake Fagrelius, Thomas Vincent, Garrett Umphress, Sam Arroues, Joel Anderson, Riley Johnson, Evan Kreps, and other groups of friends that will be with us on select trips. Filming will be done by myself, Will Freihofer, Bobby Jahrig, and Garrett Umphress. Our good friend Craig Moore from glacierworld.com will be doing some photo work with us.
What are some of the highlights from the first season of filming?
A couple nice highlights were climbing and skiing some of the tallest peaks in Northwestern Montana and finding some of the biggest pillow lines I’ve skied anywhere. The overnight winter camping involved with these trips has made for some of my best memories. Spending multiple nights in a snow cave really lets you what’s important in life. The snow in Montana bonds well to rocks, bushes, and trees, making for some of the most amazing back country freestyle terrain. With that we have multiple 10,000 foot peaks where the base elevation starts at 3,000 feet. That meaning longer hikes but some extremely long and rewarding lines. I guarantee when the film releases people will be saying “I can’t believe that is in Montana.”
What are your plans for the second season of filming?
Our plan is to film more. Last year we probably only got about 20-30 days in. That is just not enough. We all took four complete months off this year to devote to making this film. This might be the only full length winter action film we make, so we want to put everything into it. There are so many big lines right out our back door, but the weather is at times trying in Montana. Patience is the key to success. When conditions are right, we must attack. That is just what we plan to do.
What makes the simple side different than other ski and snowboard films?
What makes this film different is our approach. We aren’t trying to one up the film from the last year or find things that resemble what we love in other films. We are trying to show what we love about our home terrain and the lifestyle that goes with it. Since we haven’t taken on any main sponsors for this film, we have the ability to show the sport just how we see it. There is no expectation, we are definitely rookies in the film game. That is a great feeling. Anything we do will be a first for us and that will come across in the film. It truly is the journey that is important.