With the autumn rain rolling in, most of us turn to immersing ourselves in footage from last winter. Beer in hand, it’s time to bulk up for the incoming drifts and storms… In this respect, Dendrite’s offerings in ski film and outdoor documentary are inspiring as well as sophisticated doses of much-needed stoke. Working with a zero frills budget (if it can called be even that), their debut flick Out of the Shadows made dramatic use of innovative camera angles, with multiple mount points cut to produce footage previously unthinkable without big budgets for chopper fuel. Though the opportunities afforded by the likes of GoPro cameras had been made use of before, it was Dendrite that elevated it to the next level by mounting cameras on skis and backpacks, and using this three-dimensionality to craft segments in ways that accented the flow of skiing.
Dendrite’s work is cinematic, which is to say that it has a particularly meditative quality. The lens often dwells upon precise actions and subjects with such detail—such as a late night session spent waxing skis, or a chef plating dishes—that one sinks into the elegance of the moment. In the end it is this quality of letting time pass, and of allowing the scene to unfold, that sets Dendrite apart from the attention-deficit disorder editing that pervades the big glut of action sports flicks. The inattentive nature of hypermodern media often neglects to tell a simple story, leaving most film meaningless fodder. All the Adobe After Effects and agitated jump cutting in the world won’t make up for lack of a story. Why do we care what we are watching? (Indeed, this is why Signatures remains one of the most treasured ski films of all time; and why Blizzard of AAhhh’s is still the benchmark in ski storytelling.)
Now not everyone in this film jumps off cliffs… but everyone in this film has a story to be told.
—Greg Stump, Blizzard of AAhhh’s
So when watching this heli-skiing short, take note of Nicolas Teichrob’s eye for framing shots as a photographer; his stills are often worked into the film itself as a montage. Likewise, check out the footage as it flows with well-chosen music… rather than forcing the scenes to cut to the music, a balance is found between image and screen. This is in part because with Dendrite, electronic music holds court, as it should; without distracting lyrics and ego imprints from aggro boy bands, the complex beauty of skiing in the big mountains comes to the fore. Along with Nicolas’ talent, these efforts are thanks to Athan Merrick’s talent in post-producting editing (including smart colour balancing) and behind the camera himself. Together they make quite the unstoppable force, and the two more interesting filmmakers to watch out for. My guess is, ski filmmaking is but a stepping stone for these two.