Released today is another in our film series with Luxury outerwear brand Moncler. “Passion for Sport: The Ski Jumping” is a short film, directed by Allday director Jake Sumner and shot on the snowy hills of Lake Placid—with former US ski team member Taylor Hoffman. We ask Jake about the challenging conditions on set and the unique location; formerly the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics—as he shares some BTS below.
What drew you to making a film about ski jumping?
I didn’t really know much, so that’s what drew me to it. But I like Olympic architecture and that’s what initially got me interested. I find it crazy that these giant structures are made to honor these games that happen every 4 years. It’s really just a huge tower with a giant slide attached to it to see who can jump the furthest. I liked that idea and just wanted to do something that would allow me to make a film at the Lake Placid ski jumps.
How did you cast the ski jumper Taylor Hoffman? And why was it important to you to include his coach in the film?
Taylor is from Lake Placid and grew up near those jumps and that’s what got him into the sport, he then went on to be selected for the US Ski Team. That was pretty interesting to me as I imagine that is how most kids get into something like ski jumping, which is a fringe sport at this point. If you grew up having to drive by these towers everyday you would probably be tempted to try jumping off them.
What are the constraints of filming a ski jumper in action and how did you approach filming? It looks like you had cameras at the top of the drop in ramp?
It’s extremely difficult to shoot. First of all, conditions have to be perfect for jumps so our whole schedule was determined by when was optimal jumping time, which wasn’t much time at all. Then shooting is really hard because it’s hard to anticipate the height of his jump and therefore framing is difficult as he’s going extremely fast. A lot of times we would set up for a shot and he’d fly 10 feet above our frame. Also, the facility is huge and there’s only stairs so working with 2 heavy cameras plus all the other gear in below freezing conditions got tricky.
It’s funny how this discipline is at the same time extreme and old school (the wood board to practice muscle memory, the shoes). It seems like a very humble sport. Do you agree?
I think maybe in the US it is a humble sport. In Europe, particularly in Scandinavian countries and Switzerland, it’s much bigger and there’s a lot more money in it. It is an extreme sport but it’s also largely been replaced by things like snowboarding and snow cross. It's actually a huge mental game and more comparable to golf or something similar. Part of what was attractive to us was that the facility and the sport itself have this very classic feel that looks to be from another time. Nothings really changed with that facility since the 1980 Olympics. That’s also why I think a brand like Moncler is so suited to it as I think of them as having this very time honored history in winter sports.
The original score is paired with the visuals in such a careful and unique way that you don’t usually see with in extreme sports. Could you tell us a little bit about the music? It sounds very Vangelis-esque.
I like Chariots of Fire and I’m a fan of a lot of epic synth music like Vangelis’ and Tangerine Dream’s films scores. My friend Drazen Bosnjak from Q Department composed the music and also loves this type of music, so we thought it was a good fit.
Lake Placid exudes such a nostalgic aesthetic. Did the location inspire your use of archival footage?
I think that archival footage helped me appreciate how weird something like ski jumping really is and maybe how it’s fulfilling the childish fantasy of flying for both the people doing it and watching.
“Ski jumpers share a common bond in this crazy thing they do that probably few of us can understand.”
Tell us what it was to collaborate with Moncler on this project?
It was really great to work with Moncler on this. They gave us a lot of creative freedom with the idea as well as being great collaborators. It was important to all of us that the clothing used felt like a natural part of the whole thing. I think Moncler have such a classic and timeless aesthetic that the world of ski jumping is a perfect fit, everyone was really on the same page about how the video should be.
We understand Taylor donated his fee to a fellow American Ski Jumper, Nick Fairall, who recently suffered a tragic ski jumping accident and is currently in recovery (and whom lent production his skis for use in our shoot)? Can you touch on your impression of the somewhat small ski jumping community in the USA and worldwide?
From my knowledge of ski jumping it’s a small tight knit community where everyone kind of knows each other. Also what these athletes do is obviously very dangerous, and they risk alot by doing it. I think Taylor doing that says alot about him and maybe the community he’s part of. I imagine ski jumpers share a common bond in this crazy thing they do that probably few of us can understand.