Video: extreme steep skiing in the Alps

You haven't seen true steep skiing until you've seen this new clip from Sebastien Montaz.
By Andy Pag

Watch the trailer above – and then hear from Award-winning filmmaker Sébastien Montaz-Rosset on his latest movie and the future of extreme films, as told to Andy Pag. Find the entire movie here.

Tell me about Downside Up, your latest release.
It's about Vivian Bruchez. You won't have heard of him but he's the best of a generation of steep skiers. Steep skiing is an alpine discipline like no other, combining climbing and a deep understanding of the snow and mountain faces. The film chronicles him pioneering five precipitous descents which have never been skied before because they are so steep. Visually I don't know if it's as dramatic as the BASE jumps in I Believe I Can Fly, or solo skylining in Little Red Bus, but steep skiing is as committing as than anything in those films. Hopefully I've been able to capture that for the audience.

DownSide Up is all about vertical terrain. © Seb Montaz

Why you make films
My aim is always to tell an engaging story that even someone who's never seen snow, can relate to. Really, my films are about the person behind the performance. That's why instead of working with established pro-athletes I find people who are achieving something amazing, but not for a sponsor or for recognition, just for themselves.

How you work
I consider it a good day if I haven't spoken with the people I'm filming. I want them to forget about me, and by being quiet and ever present, they don't play up for the camera, so what the audience sees has a truth to it. Fear, courage, jubilation, none of it is constructed. I don't story board, or direct scenes.

Young audiences recognise when they're seeing artifice. I carry the lightest kit possible, and my physical training enables me to keep up. My athleticism is an essential part of the process behind my films.

Filmmaker and alpine guide Seb Montaz © Seb Montaz

The future of adventure films
I think we're on the verge of seeing a new breed of filmmaker. The border between director and athlete is disappearing. We're not quite there yet, but Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin are good examples of what I mean: Athletes who can recognise the story and have the skills to tell it with visuals.

I was a ski guide for 15 years, but I struggle to balance my time between the edit suite and training so I'm never satisfied with my editing skills or athleticism. To get the shots, you have to know what's coming and be there first. That's hard when you are filming these amazing athletes.

A precarious position © Seb Montaz

The people you film
All the people I film have a deep personal story. Some event in their life forged their character, and they express that through their commitment to their sport. It's not necessarily conscious, like a painter may not know or care why he paints. It's that personal story that makes champions, more so than DNA. They have an inner reason to push further.

Your time off work
If I go out without my camera, I miss it. That's my personal story.

Visit Seb Montaz's website to see 'DownSide Up' in it's full glory.

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