They were supposed to shoot in Newfoundland.
Sherpas Cinema was all set for a winter ski shoot in St. John’s earlier this year when a torrential downpour deprived them of a vital element: snow.
That’s when they decided, last minute, to film in Nelson instead.
“Looking back on it now, in St. John’s we couldn’t have done it to the level we ended doing it here, because we had so much community support,” producer Mitch Scott told the Star.
“We didn’t come across one person who wasn’t stoked on the idea or who wasn’t whole-heartedly behind it being successful.”
The film, tentatively titled Imagination, recreates a memorable ski segment starring JP Auclair that was released shortly before he passed away in an avalanche in 2014. And though they figured most locals wouldn’t be familiar with it, turns out they were surrounded by fans.
“One woman in her mid-50s was walking up the street, saw us filming, and she asked, ‘What are you doing?’ When we told her we were filming the sequel to the JP Auclair segment and asked if she’d seen it she said, ‘Duh, of course,’ then she stayed to watch.”
The film follows a young boy riding in a car with his parents, played by local actors Lucas Myers and Sydney Black, while they drive him to school instead of the ski hill.
“As they’re driving him into town, and he’s playing with his fingers out the window, he keeps saying stuff to his family but they’re not hearing or seeing him.”
Meanwhile, out the window, freeskier Tom Wallisch busts out his best tricks — bringing the boy’s imagination to life. At one point he skis from one roof to the next.
“The director, Dave Mossop, he put a lot of pressure on himself and that translated to pressure on his crew. He said if we’re going to do this, we have to go very deep and make it as good as we possibly can.”
So rather than just completing a wall ride, like in the original, Wallisch included a 360-spin at the end.
“Tom and JP had a pretty cool relationship. There was a lot of pressure to do an amazing job on this piece, because it was one of JP’s last ideas before he passed.”
Imagination is set for release in September or October, with a pre-release screening for Nelsonites in the early fall — potentially at the Civic Theatre.
“It’s definitely one of the hardest stretches of work I’ve ever done. We were working sun up to sun down, and there were so many moving parts.”
That being said, he couldn’t believe how cooperative the community was.
“This couldn’t have been done in a bigger city. We slowed down some major streets for periods of time. South Nelson School, they were amazing to work with and helpful. Dino with Nelson Police, Karen at public works, everyone was really great because they knew we were doing things last minute.”
One element that will be sticking around: a colourful avian mural on Gordon Road, which was a visual reference to a piece of artwork by Auclair. The mural was rush-approved by the city so that it could serve as a backdrop.
The way he sees it?
“It really resonated with me what a cool community we live in that’s letting people do crazy stuff and be creative. I knew Nelson was cool but I didn’t know the depths of how cool Nelson really is.”