INQUIRY – GINNY WHITE
Words by Dani Baker As a freeskier whose style juxtaposes grace with aggression, aspiring guide who’s palpable bond with the mountains speaks...
Kindred, a new film produced by Revelstoke locals Zoya and Izzy Lynch, is the story of a family’s unlikely journey to becoming backcountry lodge owners and how it has transformed their lives for generations to come.
Filmed last winter, it showcases how and why the Lynch sisters’ parents, at the age of 40, were convinced to become part owners of the yet-to-be-built Amiskwi Lodge. Following a backcountry ski trip to the site, they plunged straight into the deep-end of the pool, taking their kids along for the ride.
Izzy, a professional skier and new mom, produced the film while juggling her career and seven-month-old son, Knox, who makes some gorgeous cameos throughout. Zoya, an award-winning lifestyle and adventure photographer and now up-and-coming filmmaker, took on the challenge of not only directing, but also editing the film.
Recently, I sat down with Izzy and Zoya Lynch to chat about Kindred, which premiered at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. During our discussion, we delve into some of the challenges that surrounded making their first film together, the importance of taking risks, and why having a baby doesn’t end your life. —NAT SEGAL
What was the inspiration for Kindred?
Izzy: I just really wanted to make a film, and I’ve always thought the story of how our parents came to buy a share in Amiskwi was interesting and unique. It was mostly an opportunity to do a project with Zoya in our favorite place and have family involved. Knox was only six or seven months old when we started filming, so for me, it was special to have a project that I could do with him while he was still a baby.
Izzy Lynch with her son Knox. Photo by Zoya Lynch
How did you first get the ball rolling, and what were some of the challenges in making the film?
Izzy: We had to nail down our concept, which was the hardest part, because we kept getting pulled in all sorts of different directions. The first thing I did was write a pitch to my sponsors to see if they were even interested in the story. When they were, we were like, “Oh shit. Now we have to actually do this.” We decided that due to the story being so close to us, we wanted to have complete creative control. I wrote Zoya into the film because I knew that she would share the same creative vision that I did, since she sees Amiskwi the same way. We were super lucky, because Arc’teryx not only supported the film, but also trusted us enough to let us take control over our own project.
The film is a real family affair. Was it difficult working with your family, directing them, telling them what to do, etc.?
Zoya: Izzy and I have worked together for years on many projects. We’ve travelled all over the place and developed a pretty good professional working relationship where we trust each other’s abilities and work super well together. But getting our family involved was pretty funny, because they had never done anything like this before.
Izzy: Getting my brother to slow down and shoot skiing and not just go shredding was so hard. He was like, “This sucks, why are we stopping?” Our dad too. They both really wanted to be a part of it, but were so annoyed with the process.
Zoya: [laughs] I would constantly have to say, “Dad! Stop looking at the camera.” There were so many little frustrating things like that. Overall though, it turned out really well. We brought our other sister into the editing process and she gave us some pretty harsh but critical feedback, which was really important to hear.
Izzy Lynch. Photo by Zoya Lynch
In a nutshell, the film is about your parents taking big risks and the outcome of them jumping in feet first. Is this something you both live by?
Zoya: I think we both pretty much jump in feet first, in a calculated way, and maybe a little bit more informed than our parents. But nowadays, with the Internet, you can research things a lot easier. In the 90s, to learn about the backcountry, our mom had to go to the library and borrow a book to learn how to put skins on. It was ironic, because we kept saying how funny it was that we were making a film about our parents doing something they had no idea about, but we had no idea what we were doing while making this film. I guess we always thought we were so different than our parents, and what we realized is that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
My favourite part of the film is a quote about your parents not thinking about what could go wrong. Is that how you grew up, with the glass always half-full?
Izzy: Our mom is the most optimistic, starry-eyed person ever. The glass is definitely always half-full for her, and they looked at the opportunity to bring us into the mountains as an awesome adventure. They didn’t think about the physical and financial risks, or what could go wrong. They were just so pumped to get their kids outside.
Amiskwi Lodge. Photo by Zoya Lynch
It’s challenging talking about your personal and family life on camera. Kindred shows a positive take on your childhood at Amiskwi, but what was it like being kids up there? Did you always want to go, and was it always fun?
Izzy: I definitely went through a phase where I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home and have parties when my parents went out of town to the cabin.
Zoya: And we didn’t want to leave things like cable TV and MSN Messenger. You go through a phase, when you’re 13, 14, where there’s nothing up there for you. Or so you think. We never had devices up there, but they always let us bring friends, which is what made it the most fun.
Izzy Lynch: Making this film made us look back on a lot of good times and a lot of bad times, and we kind of unraveled our entire childhood, which was a pretty crazy experience.
Zoya Lynch: As a filmmaker, it’s hard to know how much to disclose, because I wondered what the story was all about. Was it about the inner workings of our family, or taking a leap of faith?
Zoya, you’ve dabbled in filmmaking before, but this is your first major project. What has going from photography to filmmaking been like? What are some of the main obstacles that you had to overcome to make that shift?
Zoya: It’s completely different. Everyone says filmmaking and photography are the same, but they’re not. Izzy was an amazing producer, because she took care of all the logistics. But I had to teach myself how to use Adobe Premiere, so I basically made this film by watching YouTube tutorials and reading articles. I had so many filmmaker friends on the line all the time, yelling at them, “How do you do this?” In the end, David Peacock helped me wrangle everything together.
What message are you hoping to share through the film?
Izzy: We’re all faced with opportunities or decisions in life where it’s easy to find reasons not to do things if we let our rational brain take over too much. But sometimes, it’s important to just go for it, and know that it’s going to work out.
Zoya: Also, life isn’t over when you get older. Our parents were 40, and they had four young kids and jobs in the city. But so what? Life doesn’t just end.
Izzy Lynch: There is this perception that when you have kids you can’t do anything cool anymore. But, that thought has never even crossed my mind because our parents did such a good job adventuring with four kids. They made it seem completely normal. You just have to make it happen. Yeah, it’s really hard work getting out there, but it’s super fun and rewarding to watch your kids experience all these things for the first time too.
Photo by Zoya Lynch
To see the film for yourself, Kindred will be screening over the next month at events across B.C. and Alberta on the Into The Hills Film Tour, which consists of stops in Calgary, Canmore, Revelstoke, Golden, Nelson, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and Rossland Mountain Film Festival.