Pulse-pounding music, non-stop action, little-to-no context—these are the hallmarks of many ski movies. Photographer and videographer Jordan Manley wanted to do things a little differently when he embarked on a project four years ago titled "A Skier’s Journey." The results are nine episodes of ten- to fifteen-minute videos featuring various skiers shared on Manley’s Vimeo channel. The videos take viewers on a global adventure from classic skiing hot-spots like British Columbia to unlikely places like Dubai. "A Skier’s Journey" is a new style of ski movie: Manley’s shorts are released frequently throughout the year instead of annually. This approach satisfies the Web-surfer’s desire for immediate gratification but, markedly unlike many other skiing ‘webisodes,’ the production values and story-telling are high quality. Manley’s "Journey" is a sign of good things to come.
Each episode is a meditation on a location’s nuances—the community, culture, and landscape are all portrayed to give the viewer a cohesive picture of each place Manley and his team document. “The aim is always to paint a portrait of whatever location we're visiting … showcasing the unique landscape, culture, or skiing there,” says Manley.
This approach shines through in Friends of Shames, a chronicle of Terrace, B.C.’s struggling ski area and the community’s attempt to turn it into a co-op. Where other filmmakers focus on abundant snowfall and untracked runs in- or out-of-bounds, Manley conducts in-depth interviews with residents about the crippling effects the loss of Shames Mountain would have on the community, providing meaningful insight into the local culture.
“I have certain preconceptions about a place before showing up," Manley says about choosing a new film location. "Inevitably those are always either thrown away or rearranged based on the experience of being there. Going in with an idea is good, but being open to capturing what we encounter is the most important part.”
Manley’s team is made up of skiers who are also co-producers. “Chad Sayers has been a central part of the series right from the beginning,” Manley says, "but we aren't always on the same page with things. Wwe both experience each place we visit uniquely.” For Manley this tension helps him view the details of a location through another’s eyes. Ultimately, "Journey's" goal is to portray a place as accurately and beautifully as possible, not to glorify a particular person, action, storm, or line.