Following three tedious years of toiling and tinkering, Switchback Entertainment’s first feature-length motion picture, Snowman, has triumphantly arrived.
Snowman is a passion project of the revered Mike Douglas, founder of Switchback Entertainment, known for producing the highly popular web series Salomon Freeski TV.
“Making a feature was so much harder than I anticipated; I was definitely in way over my head,” says Douglas. “When we’d finished our first draft, we did a test screening and the reviews were not that good. That sent us back to the drawing board, and we pretty much rebuilt the film from scratch. It’s been a very humbling experience.”
The Godfather of Freeskiing’s labour of love eloquently tells the story of his childhood best friend Kevin Fogolin, an avalanche consultant who works in some of beautiful British Columbia’s most treacherous mountains, alongside Douglas’ well-documented rise to ski superstardom.
Snowman begins by recounting the duo’s humble beginnings in Campbell River, B.C., where the pull of the mountains steered them away from a life of manual labour at the local mill. Amidst some of the most jaw-dropping avalanche footage ever caught on film, the centrepiece of the story is a glimpse through the looking glass at the unique life of an avalanche expert, while examining Fogolin’s and Douglas’ diverging yet intertwining paths and the inherent risks that come with their respective professions. The latter is put on powerful display via Douglas’ emotional reaction to the death of Shane McConkey, followed by Fogolin surviving a deadly helicopter crash and subsequent avalanche (which is marvellously and tensely recreated in the film with miniatures) just two weeks later, and how the two came together to cope with the reality that living your dream is not without its nightmares.
“Once I’d digested the aftermath of the accident, I told Kevin that if he was ever willing to tell the story publicly, I’d love to be the one to document it,” says Douglas. “The helicopter crash sequence was the catalyst that launched this film, and it’s still my favourite part. Considering the budget restrictions and challenges we faced, I think it worked out quite well and audiences have really responded to it.”
While Snowman made its worldwide debut last winter at the Whistler Film Festival, where it was awarded Best Mountain Culture Film, it’s now available on digital platforms worldwide. —JEFF SCHMUCK
To purchase Snowman online, click on your link of choice below, and be sure to visit snowmanfilm.com for more info.