As skiers, we collect our most electric and treasured memories in the mountains. And when we reflect back on these moments, ones that define chapters in our lives, our thoughts often drift towards a desire for the next experience. But as we age and become more limited in the ability to push our limits, are these past moments a burden, or a gift?
These are questions that Nightcrawlers, a short backcountry film by Eddie Foster and Kieran Nikula, seeks to explore. The talented filmer-skier duo—who made their debut with last year’s critically acclaimed film Frames—attribute their unique concept to their partnership, which started with an instant connection when they first met. Through engaging in deeper philosophical conversation, it became clear they wanted their collaborative work to address larger existential questions, and to tell stories grounded in universal realities we are all confronted with.
Kieran Nikula flying blind.
Their previous film, Frames, dealt with heritage, following Foster’s journey from his home in Hong Kong, China, to Sun Peaks, British Columbia, contrasting it to Nikula’s B.C. upbringing and lifestyle.
“After Frames,” says Foster, “we knew we had to come up with another film that drew its inspiration from outside of conventional ski films.”
The two brainstormed a handful of ideas and settled on an all-backcountry concept with the skiing filmed at night. The snow-sliding talents of Nikula himself, along with Stan Rey, Bryce Barker and Jarred Martin, play front and centre, with support from Sun Peaks Resort-based skiers Jan Glowczynski, Andrew Helton and Cole Belland rounding out the illuminated crew. Using snowmobiles with small trailers, they hauled generators, lights, electrical cords and tools—along with the standard ski, camera and safety equipment—into the backcountry to bring the film together.
Similar to Frames, Nightcrawlers uses an ethereal style, only this time following the lucid dream of an older man no longer able to ski, now using his imagination to reminisce on previous experiences. Through the story of an elderly character who had dedicated his entire life to the sport, the filmmakers’ goal was to explore the difficult emotions that we all experience when we have to give something up that is a huge part of our identity. For young people, it also highlights a topic many don’t think about.
Jarred Martin dancing in the dark.
Nikula describes the project as “a portrait of a skier that everyone recognizes from their own ski town. The main character is the older skier you see in the lift line on every powder day. You may not know much about him, but you know that he has had some serious time in the mountains.”
Filming in various sled-access zones around B.C., the skiers would tour up to their lines with a deep-cycle battery in tow. Lit by LED, they would then hit pillows, jumps and natural features in the middle of the night in total seclusion. Sometimes the crew would include a roster of friends helping out by carrying equipment, but many nights it was just the two-person team of Nikula and Foster out in the dark with the lion’s share of the work. The stakes were high, and logistics had the potential to become challenging, but as a testament to their dedication to pursuing their initial vision, the film lands right where they intended.
All in a night’s work.
Nikula hopes that, in the end, viewers see the main character as “an unapologetic person that has truly lived his own way.” And while assembling a skier lineup of this level could’ve carried the film in and of itself, Foster’s treatment of the bigger question is what will ultimately resonate with anyone who has strapped on a pair of skis.
See the culmination of their long nights in the backcountry for yourself below…