Monday, 16 June 2008
The New Zealand Video Snowguide is the brainchild of 2 crazy French dudes, Hugo Bachelet and Julien Roland - 3 months filming in Winter 2007 driving the length and width of New Zealand, covering off both the North and South Islands. The boys have taken a great snapshot of ALL 23 resorts and clubfields across New Zealand...
Hugo joins BTW for a bit of chat about their NZ mission ...
Hey Hugo, welcome to BTW ..
Hi John, thanks for putting some exposure on our project through Board The World!
BTW - No problem at all, so what's the deal with 2 French guys, making a movie in New Zealand about ski resorts? Isn't that a bit odd when you come from a country that has a boggle load of resorts?
True, but the fact that we have loads of different ski areas in France also means that we are getting to know what to expect from a field when we travel overseas. And that's quite helpful when you want to make a guide about ski areas! It's like having 2 kiwi guys coming to France to make a film about rugby, obviously they'll know their stuff...
BTW - So how did Julien and yourself come to this inspiration about making a New Zealand Snow Resort Guide DVD?
Guide books are great on location, but quite hard to read when preparing a trip. There is always too much information to digest, and at the end you still don't really know what to expect from the place you're about to pay loads of money to travel to. Past winters, Julien and I experienced a few time this feeling of disappointment in Europe, after driving 5 hours to a ski area you finally get there and then suddenly realize it's not what you expected. Of course it's always too late to go back and you have to deal with it. So one day Julien came up with this idea: "Wouldn't it be great to be able to inspect every ski area of a country on film, to easily pick up the place that suits the most a particular aspect of skiing/boarding?" I just thought it was great, but I was not ready to undertake such a project in France as it could take a lifetime to achieve... And then we thought about New Zealand for many reasons. First it has a reasonable number of ski areas, they are small enough to be covered within a few days of filming each, and it's one of the only country you can ski at this time of the year so it gets more and more attractive to snow-addicts from all over the planet.
BTW - Do you think the DVD takes what Board the World does to another level with resort reviews?
Kind of, yep! What you guys do is great because it's free and global, so everyone can benefit from your reviews and prepare a trip overseas. With our DVD we have the same goal, but the tools are different because the videos and the interviews allow us to bring a new dimension to the guide : the viewer can now feel the atmosphere of the place, meet the staff, check out the facilities, have a few runs throughout the terrain... You can even have a look to what's on the menu at the café!
BTW - When did you spend the season NZ and how long did it take to knock over all the filming?
We filmed our NZ VIDEO SNOWGUIDE last winter (2007 season). It almost took us the whole season to tour all the ski areas, 3 months in total. We started the filming period with a very strict planning, but the third day it was already gone because the snow was late in some areas so we had to think about another route to keep on filming. We also had some problems with the van all along the way, which was really annoying, but at least we earned some mechanical skills! I remember when we drove back to the hostel after a night-skiing session at Coronet Peak, the battery of the van was flat and we had to drive without any light all the way home. There was no moon that night, we couldn't see anything, so we just kept honking each time we crossed another car, and we somehow managed to follow the white lines on the road to reach the hostel. It was pretty scary... This kind of stuff happened so often that Julien used to joke that we could have done a guide about NZ mechanical garages instead!
BTW - How was the support from the NZ resorts big resorts to the club fields?
All the ski areas were very supportive. We contacted the ski area managers prior to the filming, and they were all happy to show us around and to answer our interviews. But because we were undertaking the making of a guide, it was very important for us to stay independent from the resorts. We wanted to be able to rate the fields without any pressure from them, so that's why we didn't look for any sponsorship from the ski areas themselves. It made the funding of the project a bit harder, but it was really something important for us. Our DVD is not a 150 minute commercial for NZ ski areas, it's just a genuine guide made by two guys who love the mountains...
BTW - How did you find the Club Field experience compared the mega resorts you have in France?
Club fields rule, bro! That's just a true alpine experience you can't miss if you come to New Zealand to ski or board. People are so friendly up there, that's the main thing. Of course the terrain is smaller than most European areas, but it still has a lot of potential. If you're prepared to hike you can find some really challenging runs, and you don't need to fight for some powder turns because most of the time there is not a lot of people up there. I remember a day filming at Tukino, we were the only customers that day and the crew opened the lifts for us.
BTW - What did you think of the Nutcrackers? Awesome don't you think?
First time for us was at Hammer Springs Ski Area, once again the friendly crew was there helping us and showing us how to ride the tow. Later during the season we filmed a special feature at Broken River, for the extras of the DVD. It's called 'How to ride a rope tow', and it's a very cool piece of footage thanks to the 30 year club member who hosts the video. Anyway, that's great to still be able to ride the same lifts people used to ride 40 years ago. Rope tows are a good metaphor of the club fields : skiing as it used to be, away from the commercial concepts which rule snow sports today.
BTW- What can the public expect to get out of the DVD?
Our DVD is obviously a comprehensive tool to discover or learn more about NZ ski areas, but it's also a very entertaining program. Each clip features action footage and nice music which make it easy to watch, and we included an 'extras' section with heaps of different stuffs (Introduction to NZ ski areas, Best of freestyle, Best of scenery and freeriding, Additional info and links...) There is even a cool easter egg hidden somewhere in the DVD. But the main content is really the interactive guide itself, to easily find the place where you belong.
BTW - So after visiting and reviewing all of the Ski resorts which one ranks as your favorite?
I'm sorry bro, but you'll have to check out the DVD to know about that NZ jewel! ( Craigieburn and Broken River is the pick from the boys and I would have to agree..)
BTW - What do you like most about New Zealand ? Any crazy funny moments you would like to share?
I remember a funny crazy moment, it was just after the end of the season, when we took some time off to travel in the Northland. We saw these huge sand dunes, and of course we couldn't resist to ski them! So we opened the ski bags, took our gear up the hill and had a couple of runs while people with toboggans were staring at us! Let's be honest, it's not the ride of the lifetime, but it's still quite cool to be able to ski some sand dunes in t-shirt a few days after having skied powder snow on a volcano. That's the kind of stuff i like about New Zealand, you go from a native forest to the beach and then the mountains within the same day of traveling. The lifestyle is also very relaxed down there, and that makes it a really nice place to live.
BTW - Did you give the Kiwi's some shit about losing the Rugby World Cup?
We watched the game at a Maori dudes place, the guy was really into the game, doing the Haka and stuff, so at the end he was so pissed off that we really thought it was time to leave the house... It was a very strange moment to drive around Auckland just after the game, watching all these guys taking down the All Blacks flags from their cars. The whole city was silent, everyone was locked at home crying or so. I really thought I'll never be able to publish the DVD!!! Fortunately the kiwis got over it quite quickly and we never experienced any anger from them about that. Mostly congratulations actually! They just found it a shame that we then lost against the English, but i felt the same...
BTW - Good gear Hugo, so what' s next for the two of you? Which country is next on the hit list?
We've been kept so busy working on the NEW ZEALAND VIDEO SNOWGUIDE that we didn't think about the next destination yet. Maybe some Eastern-European country, I heard that girls are hot over there... Must be more than kiwi girls anyway!
BTW - That sounds good, thanks for you time Hugo. Hope the DVD goes great guns for you ...I'll catch you next time and from what I remember a few years ago the Romanian girls are smokin'..
That sound good, thanks Johno, see you on the lifts this season!
If your Interested in having a great look around NZ, without having to leave your lounge chair then pick up a copy of the DVD at the boys website... , but I'm sure you will be making plans to head to New Zealand pretty quickly..
A quick look at some teasers on You Tube..