With UnReal’s Dirt Blizzard segment being released in-full online today, partners Teton Gravity Research and Anthill Films reimagine the ultimate skier’s dream—a powder day—in mountain biking terms. Dirt falls from the sky like powder snow, while ecstatic riders play across a magical landscape. Behind the scenes however, production of this memorable dream was no small feat, as it required significant coordination from all involved.
The filming of Dirt Blizzard can be described as a true climax in the history of action-sports cinematography. In order to mimic the sensation of an epic powder day, peat moss—totaling thousands of pounds—was dispersed or shot into the air using the elegantly simple Toro Super leaf blower. Drifts of dirt blanketed the trails, trees, and landscape, leaving Vancouver hardware stores sold out of peat moss for weeks.
Production of the Dirt Blizzard segment took place late last fall, as the bike park season was winding down. Preparations for the shoot began on a cold morning with the masses of peat moss being dumped in front of Whistler Blackcomb’s Administration building. Small dirt movers, or “park-rats”, transported the brown pow up Whistler Mountain to the top of the Fitzsimmons Express chairlift. The project required so much peat moss, companies in Vancouver eventually would no longer sell to the Anthill production crew, as they were depleting the coastal inventory. The team was obligated to enlist nondescript friends in order to acquire the hoards of peat necessary for creating the Dirt Blizzard.
“The energy was truly epic,” describes Chris McLeod, Whistler’s supervisor of industry, film, and communications. “It really felt like a powder day at Whistler. You could feel the athletes’ anticipation of laying fresh tire tracks in the deep dirt.”
One of the largest challenges TGR and Anthill faced while filming the Dirt Blizzard segment was veiling the deep piles of peat and production equipment from public view, so as to avoid spoiling the UnReal biker’s dream. In addition, to avoid disturbing the regular 10a.m. bike park opening and lift operations, everything had to be cleaned and moved away from the mountain’s base area by 9:30am each morning. For three consecutive days, the production crew began blowing dirt across the bike park, trees, and lift towers at first light. Once the cinematographers were one-hundred percent, the athletes had minimal time to nail their lines.
Combining forty years of experience in action sports, powerhouse producers TGR and Anthill Films have become the benchmark of inspired outdoor filmmaking. Today’s DVD/Blu-Ray release of UnReal, the duo’s recent mountain-bike masterpiece, demonstrates this perfect union. UnReal is being called the ultimate conjunction of athletic prowess and jaw-dropping cinematography, and no segment of the film highlights this better than “Dirt Blizzard”, a visual feast at the film’s end.
“When the credits rolled, I was disappointed. I wanted to spend more time in the unreal world savoring some truly creative riding and filmmaking,” claims Scott Secco, editor from Pinkbike.com.
UnReal, the film, is being released globally today on DVD and Blu-Ray and is available through online retailers Tetongravity.com, Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, and iTunes.
The film was co-produced by Teton Gravity Research and Anthill Films, and was written, directed, and edited by Anthill Films. Art direction and additional writing were provided by Good Fortune Collective. The film is presented by Sony in association with Shimano and Trek. Additional support for the film comes from Bike Magazine, Evoc, Knolly, Pinkbike.com, Rocky Mountain, Western Digital, and Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
About Teton Gravity Research
Since 1996, TGR has worked with the top athletes in their respective disciplines to capture, celebrate, and bring to life the passion and enthusiasm associated with action sports. Known for its media and lifestyle products, TGR has significant production experience on all seven continents, including commercial work, branded entertainment, original television programming, and 35 award-winning feature films. TGR is a proud member of 1% For The Planet, BICEP, Surfrider Foundation, and Protect Our Winters. For more information on TGR, visit TetonGravity.com.
About Anthill Films
Anthill Films is a group of award-winning action sport storytellers who are constantly pushing visual, technical, and creative boundaries. More than anything, Anthill Films aims to create work that inspires a way of life. Born out of mountain biking, but influenced by all action sports, Anthill Films lives to play in British Columbia’s mountains, oceans, and rivers. This lifestyle makes them who they are and shapes what they do. For more information on Anthill Films, visit AnthillFilms.com.