Winter Project mixes high-octane action with vivid storytelling
Last year was a bad snow year for Alaska, and this year isn’t off to a good start either.
But however badly the lack of snow last winter cramped your style, imagine raising more than $156,000 to finally make the full-length film of your dreams about extreme snowmachine riding in Alaska, only to have Mother Nature try and stop you.
This scenario sets the opening scene of the film Winter Project, which will have its world premiere this week at the Bear Tooth. Hybrid Color Films, who brought you the snowmachine short Black Sunday, presents their first feature-length film that has come a long way from the Kickstarter campaign it was born from. If you have been around Anchorage since 2013, you may remember it.
From October 31 to November 30 last year, the film’s crew and stars rallied the support of 1,031 backers to fund the making of Winter Project. They proposed an estimated goal of $140,000 and ended up raising $156,501.
The film’s director, Kyle Aramburo, explained that it’s harder than it sounds to raise money to make a film like Winter Project. The film’s star, extreme snowmachiner Cory Davis, is arguably famous in his own right as a decorated X Games athlete. But even with his notoriety, the two said they struggled to find sponsors to help foot the bill to make the film. So they turned to their fans—fans who’d been asking them to make a full-length film for years.
Aramburo met Davis five years ago. From then on, they always talked about making a documentary that told the real story about backcountry snowmobiling and paid homage to the Alaskan filmmakers that shaped the sport.
“It’s basically the story of Alaska backcountry snowmachining and the progression of this sport over time,” Aramburo said.
Advertisement The story follows a ragtag group of guys—only one female rider is featured in the documentary—who almost all started as snowboarders and became the creative minds of the Alaskan film companies Turnagain Hardcore and Frontier Films, as well as the daredevils that starred in the them. Featuring exclusive interview with legends of the sport, twins Sebastian and Giles Landry, the film relives the highs of the past and present, and witnesses the lows—injuries, accidents, avalanches—that shook the tight-knit community to its core.
Davis said if it had been a normal snow year that they would have filmed everything last winter right out of their backdoors at Turnagain Pass, but because Mother Nature is such a capricious lady, they were forced to travel to Eureka, Valdez, and other points around the state. The lack of nearby snow became a plot a twist.
“If it would have been a different year, it would have been an entirely different film,” said Aramburo. “It became a part of the story we told. The story changed, but they say that you come up with one concept, you shoot a different movie, and you edit a different one.”
Even though they raised a large chunk of change, Aramburo said they invested their own money to make the film—and it looks like it.
There was way more than $156,501 put into this film, and all of my prying about the actual budget was met by a sly smile from Aramburo, who said he was glad it looked that way because that is how he wanted it to look.
Trust me when I say that your Kickstarter dollars were put to good use, from the money spent renting helicopters, to the slow-motion action shots, to the access to vintage footage from the beginning days of the sport. Plus, every single Kickstarter backer is listed in the credits. Winter Project glorifies everything that made me want to move to Alaska in the first place including epic views and mountains that dwarf my beloved Rocky Mountains in Montana.
If you’ve got a ticket to either of the Thursday night showings, hold on to them tight—both of the premieres sold out. Luckily the nice folks over at the Bear Tooth have added two extra showings Friday and Saturday at 10:30 p.m. (Yeah, it’s late, but it’s the weekend and you’d be out anyway. Don’t lie.) Tickets are on sale now for $12, but you’d better act quickly or you’ll have to wait until it’s released on iTunes later this year.
Winter Project shows at Bear Tooth on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 8 and 10 p.m. (sold out) and on Friday and Saturday (Nov. 21 and 22) at10:30 p.m.