WATCH: ‘Book of Pow’ showcases what is possible in Colorado, independent filmmaking
FRISCO – After seeing the short film “The Book of Pow,” which claims to be shot 100% in Colorado last season, some might be tempted to accuse its creators of filming in other locations, such as British Columbia or Alaska.
They have good alibis, though. Local freeskier John Spriggs and his videographer, Edward Clem, worked full time jobs at Podium Sports in Summit County throughout the season. Living in Frisco, they could film only in areas within shooting distance, and they spent all their free time creating “The Book of Pow.”
Avon local Taylor Seaton got involved with the project later in the season, eventually working his way up to a starring role. Seaton said it was obvious that Spriggs and Clem were on a mission to create something special, and he wanted to get involved.
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“You could tell they were onto something,” Seaton said. “The conditions were right, Ed was capturing some amazing shots, and Spriggs was skiing with intensity.”
Spriggs, a Battle Mountain graduate, said that while they didn’t have the budget you’ll see in big ski films, they did have the talent and the locations.
“We were going to zones we already knew, but we were seeing all new lines last season, stuff we had never seen before,” Spriggs said. “Ed was out there getting multiple angles, making it look like we had a whole team.”
The never-been-done lines seen in the film are never-been-done runs for a reason. Avalanche danger can be especially evident in Colorado – safer conditions have small windows of availability – and Colorado usually doesn’t see the accumulation of snow that other popular ski film locations have. The team ran into numerous roadblocks from all of the above.
Dedicated to Bindu
The project was beset by tragedy early on. While filming with Clem and Spriggs, backcountry snowboarder Bindu Sky Pomeroy died attempting an inverted maneuver off a set of cliffs in East Vail. Pomeroy underrotated and landed headfirst in deep snow, and was unable to self rescue while Spriggs and Clem rushed to his assistance.
Spriggs, who was first to reach Pomeroy and performed CPR on him, went through the full range of emotion following the incident.
Ultimately, though, he said Pomeroy’s death made him even more motivated to see the project through.
“We were going hard after that,” Spriggs said, “in honor of Bindu and everyone else we’ve lost doing this.”
“The Book of Pow” is dedicated to Pomeroy and contains the last shot of the man known as the “Mayor of East Vail” landing a nice cliff drop in the area over which he presided.
From Colorado with love
“The Book of Pow” debuted at the High Five Film Festival in Annecy, France, on Oct. 4.
Seaton attended the premiere and said it was well received by the mostly European audience.
“It was awesome to get it in front of 800 people at one of Europe’s biggest ski film festivals,” Seaton said. “Just getting it into this festival showed us the appeal Colorado skiing has around the world.”
The film has also been accepted into the International Freeski Film Festival, known as IF3.
Spriggs, Seaton and Clem say they plan to continue working the festival circuit as a showcase of what’s possible in independent filmmaking.
“In some ways doing this totally independently made it easier. It gave us more freedom, more opportunity to get creative,” Spriggs said. “But it can definitely make it harder, too. A bigger budget can open some doors and get you to some destinations that are harder to get to.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.