Man or Moose?
The Tourism Timmins Video Shoot
Or … How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Winter
It was as cold as the Hand of Death, and although the sun was shining brightly in the cloudless sky overhead, we were freezing and common sense was evaporating like steam. I turned to Peter, our cameraman (who had at one time worked with Peter Ustinov) and in a moment of weakness said “I think the shot’s fine. That’ll be fine. It’s fine. Let’s just head back to the lodge now.” Fortunately, Peter knew better. And so we did a third and final take, and that’s the one that wound up on the DVD …
What the hell am I talking about?
In January of 2009, we went to Timmins, Ontario with a film crew from Southern Ontario to shoot a video for Tourism Timmins, celebrating the city’s winter activities.
Our mission was to film skiers (both cross country and downhill), dog sledders, snowmobilers, and various other celebrations of winter including a wildlife petting zoo!
As fate would have it, Timmins was in the middle of an incredible cold snap with temperatures hitting below minus 40 degrees with the wind chill. We thought about rescheduling but instead decided, just a few days before, to go anyways, even though we were not sure that the equipment (or ourselves) would survive temperatures that low.
There were five of us on the mission (and yes, we all survived). From Lucidia, JR Pierman (Partner and Client Strategist) and myself went to oversee things, meet with the client, and to direct the video. Our main film crew were Val Blokowski (whose film company Vertical Line Media is based out of Toronto) and Peter McCubbin (our cameraman from Peterborough). Additionally, we brought outdoor photographer/writer/celebrity James Smedley from Wawa with us to pick up some secondary, or B-roll video.
We met up at our hotel on a cold Thursday night (wrongly thinking it could not possibly get any colder) and planned the work. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we would shoot footage of everything from a bison named Elvis to Northern Ontario as seen from a huge tower on top of a ski hill.
To survive working outdoors for hours at a time we had all bought, borrowed, or stole the heaviest and warmest clothes we could find. I myself had a down-filled jacket, long underwear, ski pants, boots that were so big and heavy that I was sure they were leftovers from the Apollo Program, mitts, a strange and silly hat that covered my ears and buckled under my chin, a balaclava, and sunglasses; in other words … a space suit!
My memories are a strange mix of things. Such as Cedar Meadows Resort, one part hotel/resort, and one part safari/petting zoo that felt kind of like Jurassic Park Timmins. Kamiskotia Ski Resort, going up and down the chairlift (for what felt like forever) trying to get the perfect shot of skiers heading up the lift. Night falling on us as we filmed the Porcupine Ski Runners Cross Country Trail System and Peter intent on capturing “magic hour”, and last but not least, dog sledding, which is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in winter. Dogs are cool. Sleds are cool. Speed is cool. You do the math!
What did I learn from Timmins? Many things. First, that I can indeed survive a real Canadian winter. Also, that moose are really, really big animals, James Smedley really was identified in a bar as “some kind of outdoors celebrity” (and consequently fed free drinks and mussels), that almost everyone in Timmins is friendly and will bend over backwards for you, that drunk college students can easily survive snowtubing at night, and that despite the fact that the winter in Northern Ontario can truly be lethally cold, you can indeed have an amazing time outdoors in the snow. And one other thing … snowmobiles really are @#$ing fast!
Craig West, Creative Director