"Extreme" film making courses offered
By David Burke
Award-winning filmmaker Peter Chrzanowski — a.k.a. Peter Peru — is inviting those proficient in backcountry skiing or snowboarding the chance to learn the tricks of the "extreme" filmmaking trade from one of the best.
Explorex, Peter Peru's Extreme Film and Expedition School, offers intensive, one-week extreme filmmaking workshops this winter beginning Feb. 17 in Golden, B.C. Beginning April 14, he also plans to offer six one-week sessions in Whistler.
Chrzanowski, 45, is known was a pioneer in "extreme" mountaineering and filmmaking even before the term "extreme" was popularized. Beginning in the late 1970s with a film shot in Peru (hence the nickname Peter Peru), he produced and directed well-known videos including Into the Powder, featuring the likes of well-known Whistlerites Rob Boyd and Trevor Petersen. He is currently finishing up a documentary film called Goldenrush: The Birth of A Ski Resort, about the transformation of the town of Golden.
His films also include The Spirit, which is de dicated to Petersen, the internationally acclaimed extreme skier who died on an expedition in the French Alps. The Spirit was named best documentary at the Sea to Sky Film Festival.
Chrzanowski, who lived in Whistler full-time from 1979 to '85 and part-time until 1992, is a full member of the Directors Guild of Canada and well-known adventurer. He also owns property near Ivey Lake in the Pemberton Valley where he said he would like to start a film school.
Now living in the Lower Mainland, Chrzanowski said he decided to start his intensive "extreme" filmmaking courses in Golden and Whistler because of people's enthusiasm for the mountains in the two communities.
"I expect a lot of my students to come from smaller towns, where a lot of people are knowledgeable about the backcountry," he said.
While he expects his "core audience" to be skilled skiers/snowboarders aged 19 to 35, Chrzanowski said those of sufficient skills of any age will be accepted.
Safety is one of the courses' points of emphasis, said Chrzanowski, who has lost a couple of good friends in mountain mishaps, including Petersen.
The filmmaking aspects of the courses will emphasize storytelling, he said.
Chrzanowski and Pembertonian Nigel Protter started up Extreme Explorations several years ago. The company's 14 films include both documentaries and mountain action films.
While it's possible to make money on such films, it takes a lot of promotion work just to make them pay for themselves, he said.
"Documentaries are pretty hard to make money on. Those were $150,000 to $500,000 productions, and to recoup that it just takes a long time," he said.
"Our films are all done in a very independent style with few government grants or anything. They were real lifestyle, labour-of-love type of projects. It's been a very long and arduous road. I'm 45, I don't have any kids, and my films are kind of like my babies."
The one-week extreme filmmaking workshops cost $2,150 per person, which includes meals, lift passes and accommodation. For information see Extreme Exploration's website at www.explorex.net or phone (604) 813-2200.