Skiing on all twelve peaks over 2000 meters in Sweden is a great achievement to achieve in a lifetime, but doing them all in a continuous push without snowmobiles or helicopters is a completely different best. This was the mission that Jackie Paaso and her crew embarked on last winter. An extraordinary expedition that goes beyond most other tasks done in Sweden in recent times.
Do not want to read the story but watch the movie instead? Scroll to the bottom!
We all know that the athletes in front of the lens need to perform, but what about the filmmaker? In a case like this, the filmmaker must carry all the equipment that the others must take while taking with him all the tools needed to capture and film the story. In other words, the filmmaker must be a sharp winter athlete to keep up with the group as he pulls sledges in the valley, climbs sketchy ridges up the mountains or descends into steep and icy couloirs. Not only does he have to make them, he also has to film them.
Martin Olson is a photographer and filmmaker based in the heart of the Swedish ski scene, Åre.
With a background in catalog and image production in Stockholm, it can be said with certainty that these assignments are a bit of a career change.
We sat down with him to get an insight into how he copes with a normal day at the office, or should we say in the mountains?
How did you prepare for the expedition?
You know, I should have trained more before I went on this expedition. Learning the life of a father with a newborn while trying to get in shape for an assignment like this was no easy task. Luckily, I live right at the foot of the mountain, and that has allowed me to sneak away to train late at night. However, I should have spent more hours preparing my body. But it’s easy to say afterwards.
Was there ever during the expedition where you felt you should have had more time on skis or climbing?
Haha, all the time. You compare yourself with the elite here.
What is the most challenging thing about filming a story like this?
I can tell you so much: It’s tricky!
The film describes many of the struggles we face in our daily lives. How do you capture this as a filmmaker?
My job as a filmmaker is to be a neutral observer and document the group’s journey throughout this expedition. I simply focused on my work while trying to capture this story to the best of my ability. In some sense, it was good to leave the decision-making process to the team, and thus not add my voice to issues other than directly film-related. This took me out of the picture per design and gave me time to focus on the film.
So you completely trusted that the team took care of the security and planning?
I trusted them regarding safety, such as technical climbing, route selection and snow conditions. They all have excellent mountain knowledge and experience. I needed to be involved in some parts of the overall planning to be sure I would get the shots I needed.
I felt very comfortable with them regarding safety decisions and saw it as an opportunity to teach me how they think. After all, the characters in this movie are literally working to keep people safe in the mountains.
Any advice for filmmakers who want to follow in your footsteps?
It’s pretty easy to end up in a spiral where you only do the same job for customers. I have discovered that I need to do a passion project from time to time where I focus on doing something that I want to work towards in the future. One such project, a portrait of Reine Barkered, actually laid the foundation for this project.
Essentially, you need to work on your craft in a way that takes you toward your ultimate goal. Sometimes it is through paid work with customers, and other times pure passion projects where you set the direction.
Thank you for chatting with us. Looking forward to seeing what the future has to offer for you
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And last but certainly not least: the movie.
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