The other day, The Ski Channel sat down with Co-Director/Producer Athan Merrick of the short film, “Parallels,” which was first shown as part of the Intersection compettion at the Telus Ski and Board Festival in Whistler, B.C. this past April. Now, the masterful short has been released publicly for your eager eyes to feast upon. Simply, it’s colorful images of wheels, Connect Four play and mountain play make you wanting more and more.
“Parallels” is not the first film by Merrick and his fellow Director/Producer Nicolas Teichrob. Last year they made their feature ski film debut of “Out of the Shadows,” which was the 2010 Best Big Mountain Film winner at IF3 and the Sierra Nevada Award for Action Sports Films at The Mountain Film Festival.
Their short was completed in seven days – from start to finish. An amazing feat for anything, including a short film of this outstanding caliber. They had a pre-production meeting on April 12, 2011 and by April 19, 2011, they delivered the finish project with about ten minutes to spare. The last day was spent in the editing room, editing for 27 hours straight.
Born with “Out of the Shadows” in 2009 was Dendrite Studios, Merrick and Teichrob’s production company. Besides helping to harvest their own ideas, Dendrite helps other realize their production dreams and offers freelance assistance. The guys are a perfect team exuding smarts and creative talent. Teichrob was primarily a photographer and Merrick was an athlete, and began shooting together in the winter producing majestic published shots.
Teichrob is originally from the Vancouver area (pictured on the left) and Merrick (pictured on the right) went to The University of British Columbia for their film production program from Sante Fe, New Mexico. Merrick has been up there ever since. He’s been skiing since he was 5 and also making movies, ski themed in particular since he was a teenager. His aspirations go beyond just the ski industry and is pursuing the path of further perfecting his directing skills.
(The top three production photos are by Nicolas Teichrob. See more of his photos at: www.nicolasteichrob.com. Picture of Merrick and Teichrob, at IF3.)
The Ski Channel (TSC): How did the idea for “Parallels” come about?
Athan Merrick (AM): “When we were invited to compete in Intersection we brainstormed. We came up with two ideas. One was more music/winter sound heavy and that was scrapped for various reasons. The other evolved from watching films for years and years and evolving the creative vision and process that myself and business partner Nicolas Teichrob go through. We felt how powerful similar images can be that happen back to back or are scattered throughout a film. So Nic was really the one who pushed us to go with the idea of Parallels. Parallels stems from the different mountain experiences and how they all interrelate, whether you are snowboarding or skiing, hiking, skinning, or using a snowmobile to get to the top, skiing pow or hitting a park jump. We all beat to the same drum. We all breathe and flow, just like water, and sluff, and steam from your bowl of oatmeal in a hut. That circle from the bowl is seen on the cars we drive to the mountains, on lift bull wheels, on nalgene tops, on sled tracks, and the list goes on and on. We are here to create art.”
TSC: Where did you shoot, specially?
AM: “We shot everything for Parallels within 100 kilometres of Whistler, BC as the crow fly, as that was one of the rules of the intersection event. The other rules were the piece had to be completed from start to finish in only 7 days. It had to include 30 seconds of inbounds footage from Whistler Blackcomb, 30 seconds of park footage, and skiers and snowboarders.”
TSC: What camera(s) did you use?
AM: “We shot everything on 2 Canon 7d’s and some of the timelapses were done on Nic’s old Pentax’s.”
TSC: Was it difficult getting the skier/riders, or do you have personal relationships with many of them/have worked with them before?
AM: “It was difficult getting the snowboarders because we primarily film skiing, so we don’t have any relationships with “pro” snowboarders. They came together last minute and helped us out tremendously. The skiers we all have personal relationships with and have filmed with in the past so that was very easy and they worked super hard for us.”
TSC: What was most challenging part of making “Parallels?”
AM: “The most challenging part was by far the time constraint and not sleeping. Nic and I both acknowledge we have never been so mentally and physically drained.”
TSC: Are you a skier, boarder, or both?
AM: “Both Nic and I are skiers, but if I wasn’t a skier, I would be a snowboarder in a heartbeat. Sliding down snow is rad, no matter how its done.”
TSC: If you could ski anywhere, where would you?
AM: “Well the number one ski trip for me would be heli skiing in AK. As a former big mountain competitor I think that is every skier’s dream and should be the number one dream. 2nd place would be a trip with buddies to Japan just to ski neck deep pow for a couple weeks. But we are based out of Vancouver, Whistler, and the Sunshine Coast of BC, and there is no better place for a home base for filming and participating in mountain adventures.”
TSC: What’s next on your To Do List?
AM: “Freelance mode. Hire us! But if funding came in the door I know Nic and I would drop everything to make another full length ski film, or almost any film in the outdoor adventure realm. We would really like to do another full length ski film, but at this point in time we cannot get any funding. We would really like to do another full length ski film, but at this point in time we cannot get any funding. We have great ideas, but getting sponsors is very difficult. The process of making a full length film and the joy and energy you see on viewer’s faces when they leave the theatre after a premiere is what makes the film making journey so special. We thrive on selfish sports that are inherently hedonistic, so to put smiles and stoke on thousands of individuals you have never met, who will then put that energy out into the world is extremely gratifying, even if the net positive change is very little. I want to give back a lot in my life for all the great times I’ve had pursuing personal pleasure in the mountains. A film is very small compared to the influence of many great people on this planet, but that impact is there, and to feel it live in a theatre and after the show is truly magical.”
All your Dendrite Studios filming needs and to purchase DVDs of their films can be done at their website at: http://dendritestudios.com/.
You can check out “Parallels” below now!