Seeing Parallels: An Interview with Nicolas Teichrob of Dendrite Studios

I first heard of Nicolas Teichrob from a mutual friend that loves the outdoors. She had great things to say about him and even greater things of his creative abilities in both photography and film making. I was skeptical. This was probably just another guy making crappy head cam videos and shooting summit photos with his point and shoot. After getting to know Nicolas’ work, all I can say is he is far at the other end of the spectrum.

Nicolas currently resides on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.  As an artist, Nic draws his inspiration from the natural world and the beautiful moments in time that are everywhere.  His images and stories have been published in many international ski, bike, and surf magazines displaying his ability to create unique imagery in various environments.

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On the video side of things, Nicolas co-founded Dendrite Studios in 2009, a multi-award winning film production company focusing on outdoor adventure.  Most notable works with Dendrite include Out of the Shadows (feature) and Parallels (short).

Nic’s work in the mountain biking world continues to gain notoriety as well, having just completed his roles as Principal Cinematographer and Creative Advisor for Secondbase Films’ bike movie ‘From the Inside Out.’  Never tied to one medium, Nicolas brings a passionate and creative eye to every project he works on.Here’s his latest work with Dendrite called Parallels.

Now on to the interview with Nicolas.

Ross Collicutt: For those that haven’t seen the short film yet, what’s the intro? Where is it and what is it about?

Nicolas Teichrob: Parallels is a short film produced by Dendrite Studios in April of 2011. It was shot for the Telus Ski and Snowboard Festival’s new competition called Intersection. We had 7 days to produce, shoot, edit, a 5-7min short film. We had to operate under tight restrictions. We had to have at least 1 skier and 1 snowboarder, everything had to be shot within 100km radius of Whistler, at least 30 seconds of park footage, at least 30 seconds of inbounds Whistler-Blackcomb footage, and each invited team was given a $1000 budget (which we spent half of on music rights). Working within those restrictions, we wanted to take things out of the box, as we usually try to do. We shot some touring up the Duffy Lake Rd, some sled skiing up near Bralorne, park skiing in Vancouver, and then some Whistler-Blackcomb inbounds filming.

RC: Why did you call the film Parallels? Did it have anything to do with skiing on two parallel boards?

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NT: This is something that after the fact we realize didn’t really come across, but then again that is what happens when the box is opened up. The title Parallels is to symbolize the parallel situations that are experienced when playing in the mountains. If you are a skier or snowboarder, riding the park, backcountry, or inbounds, the experiences you go through are all similar and all with the same goal of having a good time. This concept of parallel ‘things’ is initiated with our intro or circles and flow. Throughout the film there are numerous times where parallels between the different types of mountain activities are shown, such as when the snowmobiler lays tracks in the fresh pow with his hand dragging, the rake leaves tracks on the lip of a park booter, and ski touring leaves skin tracks up the mountain. And thus, no, the title has nothing to do with parallel boards, and it never was intended to, but we can see how easily it is to come across the title in that way. Maybe a flaw of it.

RC: Did the snowboarder that joined you in a few scenes object to the name?

NT: We had two 3 snowboarders who joined us, 1 for park, 1 for inbounds and 1 for touring. We never heard anything negative about the title from them, and in reality the title was decided by Athan and I, the producers, and no other influence would change that.

RC: You mentioned how much work Parallels was because of the time frame. Can you expand on why you had to make it so fast and how long you spent doing each activity?

NT: Ok, so to produce a technically sound short film in 7 days was pretty intense. Actually, that is an understatement, it was a bit insane. Athan Merrick and I produced all aspects of the short, and thus we were pinned. The entire piece had about 280 total man hours between the two of us…that’s 20 hours per day for the first 6 days, and then no sleep at all on the last night. We felt like zombies. On day one, both Athan and I shot video on Whistler and Blackcomb. We split up and shot with different groups of riders. The next day Athan went to Backcountry Snowcats with Dave and Daryl Treadway to shoot sled skiing for 3 days. In the evenings he was editing his footage and shoot timelapses. during that same time, I went ski touring to a backcountry lodge with a couple skiers and a split-boarder. We went for 2 days, 1 night, to collect the touring side of things, ski pow and the hut scene was important to collect as well. On the 5 and 6th days we collected more inbounds Whistler-Blackcomb footage, timelapses, and produced the title shots with paint. Throughout this entire period I was editing the entire piece, usually working until around 3am and sleeping until 7…or work till 12am, then sleep until 2, then work until 4, sleep until 6am, and then get up and keep filming. Athan provided great feedback throughout the editing process and would take turns while I slept to pump out the timeline. One of the things that made this piece technically difficult to edit was the amount of syncing with the music that we chose to do. This really is the only way I edit, but it means things take a while…that and other artistic elements such as the intro circles and flow section. It was a serious mission.

RC: Would you do something like that again?

NT: Maybe, maybe not. After the event I had decided I’d never do it again. Quite frankly I felt pretty f$cked up after the 7 days of insanity. My body was hating me for the lack of sleep and proper nutrition and excessive backcountry exercise, and my mind was fried from staring at a computer so much. The zombie-like state we were in at the end was something I had never experienced. I have done many 3-4 day slideshow events and those are intense, but this was next level. Then again, maybe I would do it again, but with a different approach. We’re not sure.

RC: Did you learn anything that you’ll try again or that you’ll never do again?

NT: I don’t think there is anything that I wouldn’t try again, but definitely some stuff I would. Parallels was an expanding experience in terms of editing, as well as filming. We made some mistakes along the way (like freezing cameras during night timelapses), but mostly enforced our own ideas. On the event side of things I try to not let the fact that it is being judged to dictate how we shoot or edit, and that might be my/our downfall to some degree. What we want to do is push the artistic boundaries of ski film and in order to do that you go out on a limb, often down a road some people won’t like, but hopefully down one that open minded people will enjoy.

RC: The still image in video effects I saw a couple times throughout the film were really cool, was that a first time doing that?

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NT: Thanks! This was the second film that I used both stills and videos intermixed. The first was Zero Degrees, which was produced for the Kootenay Mountain Culture Coldsmoke Festival in February of 2011. I was stoked on how that work out, and so we tried it again with some of Parallells. This mixing of media is a way to creatively push our own way of filmmaking and I think of the idea of filmmaking in general and blending the gap between stills, videos and timelapses. Bringing a lot of timelapses into the mix is key to our work as well, which of course are just a whole bunch of stills placed together and sped up. (Sidenote: Zero Degrees has been accepted to the Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011. Stoked on that).

RC: Congrats on that!

RC: What’s your next project shaping up as? Will you be working on another feature-length film?

NT: Next project…well, we do not really have one right now. Another full length is not in the works due to a lack of funding. Out of the Shadows was produced entirely out of pockets and we have only just now recovered the costs of the production, nevermind paying ourselves a dime. Simply put, we can’t do that again, and the ski industry doesn’t have deep enough pockets to support what we want to do. It’s a tough game. We hope to produce some short films for various clients this winter, but time will tell as to how those shorts will take shape. Currently I am helping The Coastal Crew finish up a biking film called “From the Inside Out” which is produced by SecondBase Films (The Coastal Crew + Anthill Films). This film is going to be kick ass and everyone should see it. I also have some longer term art projects under works, but nothing in the full length spectrum…..yet.

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Follow Nicolas’ amazing work on his personal site

NicolasTeichrob.com or at DendriteStudios.com

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