Featured image credit: Jérôme Tanon
This article first appeared in Issue 3 of the Mpora print magazine.
It’s not new information, but filmmakers looking for a big blank canvas to paint huge cinematic brushstrokes on can do a lot worse than Alaska. Sparsely populated and home to some properly massive terrain, the state offers the kind of space that allows visionaries to come and really lay down a marker. For creative-types like snowboard photographer and documentary director Jérôme Tanon, the brain behind instant classic ‘The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding’ and the equally excellent ‘Zabardast’ (check them out immediately, if you haven’t seen them already), the potential is palpable.
“When I get in, I get in 100%. Full creative freedom”
Here, after all, is an artist adept at celebrating the ‘epic-ness’ of snowsports while simultaneously poking affectionate fun at the human side of the scenes that fuel them. Where some make the mistake of focusing too much on the mountains at the expense of the personal journeys occurring within them, JT has a track-record of getting the balance right; putting together films that make you laugh out loud one moment and knock you for six the next. It might seem like an easy trick to pull off, it’s anything but. At multiple times during our call, Jérôme reiterates that while drones have been “game changers” it’s important not to overuse them to the detriment of insightfulness and entertainment. ‘Everything in perfect harmony’ seems to be the Frenchman’s mantra.
“When I get in, I get in 100%. Full creative freedom,” he tells me at one point. It’s a statement with an air of the ‘Stanley Kubricks’ about it, but it’s one delivered with enough of a knowing-smile to ensure it sheds any of its pretentiousness. Speaking on a day when chaotic queues are engulfing Dover, and heatwave-induced fires in the UK are on the news, he’d opened things up by comedically turning the spotlight on me and my British passport Tanon-style with the words: “How’s Brexit going?”
Jérôme is keen not to give away too many details around the Alaska filming project, relishing the chance to keep some cards close to his chest like France’s most ice-in-the-veins poker player. He is, however, happy to reveal that the action takes place in the Haines-wide area; an extreme skiing paradise where the steep snow-covered mountains undulate wildly and the terrain has an almost extraterrestrial quality. “We don’t want to be more specific, as it’s a bit of a secret spot,” he later tells me over email.