Friday, February 07, 2014

The Winter Olympics are more personal for me this year.

I think this was in Utah? Bu I'm not sure. Our shoots were a whirlwind of activity.
The Winter Olympics kick off tonight and I admit I feel a closeness to them I haven't in the past. Last year I had the incredible pleasure of visiting a number of Olympians and Olympic hopefuls to shoot mini-documentaries, their "Start Stories" for my client at the time. It was a massive project and I am extremely proud of the results. It's not often one gets the opportunity to meet amazing people and weave a story around their accomplishments that are a step away from the usual sports profiles. And on top of it, every single athlete was so generous with their time and welcoming of me and the entire film crew I was traveling with.

Many of the folks we interviewed will be in the opening parade in Sochi tonight, so I thought I'd post some pictures of all (almost) everyone we did films about. The only one not pictured below is the amazing Amy Purdy, but that's because she was my very first shoot of the series and I was still pretty shy about being a geek and asking her to take a photo with me. What can I say, I'm an idiot. Also, in my defense, I was suffering from severe altitude sickness from being 10,000 feet up. And I almost killed myself. I know: excuses, excuses!

Anyway, let's look at some photos and take a trip down memory lane.

I did work up the courage to ask Charlie White and Meryl Davis for a photo though. They are two of the nice, sweeter, funnier people I've met in recent years. For a while Meryl was even following me on Twitter! But I assume that since I tweet more than some novelists write she decided I was probably not right for her feed and stopped following me a few months ago. Oh well!

This was the first crew shot of the series. I worked with the guys at Plan A, and we grew an excellent partnership as the shoot went on. I still miss those guys almost every day and hope to get a chance to work with them again. Or at least hang to with them if I'm ever in L.A. or North Carolina (where the core crew is based).

Noelle Pikus-Pace does the skeleton. And she's a mom. And she has the most energy of just about any human being I've ever met. She was so outgoing and nice, and her family was so awesome, I was really sad to end that shoot. Also, she brought me to Del Taco for my first time ever!

Spending two days with Heath Calhoun was an absolute blast. And it happened during a particularly stressful time in my life so I drew great inspiration from his incredible drive and determination.

Here's another crew shot. The crepes place we went to had no tables so we offered to sit on the patio if they'd serve us out there in the ice and snow. They did. The crepes were delicious.

Gretchen Bleiler was a hoot. Sunny, positive, and genuinely kind. Also, she introduced us to an incredible sushi restaurant in Aspen. Good to know.

Torin Yater-Wallace had just gotten back from skiing overseas yet he still managed to blow our minds in the half-pipe and show us incredible hospitality back at his apartment during his interview. The dud'e a trooper and I bet he's going to be a household name very soon.

I almost didn't get to meet Sarah Hendrickson but I'm glad I did because once you see a ski jumper fly through the air in real life you realize just how insane a sport it is and this was made all the more intense because Sarah is such a normal, cool, teenager. I got a chance to stand at the top of the jump and watch her go down and it made me dizzy.

Me, mid-shoot.
Actually, that's the thing about all these athletes; when you get a chance to see what they do, up close, it blows your mind. the television saps so much of the power—and danger— of what their doing. Ski jumping the length of a football field, dancing with knives on your feet, skiing or snowboarding down a mountain faster than a sports car, sliding down an icy track on something the size of a lunch tray, skiing or snowboarding high above an already unbelievably massive half-pipe … words fail to accurately describe the experience and television cameras are absolutely unable to capture it either.

I was handed a gift with this project, and I will cherish the opportunity forever after. But for now I need to grab a cowbell and prepare to cheer on some outstanding athletes as they reach to conquer the dream they've been striving towards for most of their lives.

No comments: