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Behind the Camera - ESK's Nicolas Asselin
| By: Pippin Lee|
| Ski The East Contributor|
photos courtesy of Jason Mousseau and ESK
IF3 took place several weeks ago, and along with several other Ontarians we booked it on the highway to Montreal to see what this hoot was about. For the past three years now, the International Freeski Film Festival has taken place in the heart of Quebec, with visitors coming from around the world. It is a great place to meet people that share the same passion as you, enjoy some stellar poutine, and get your pre-season stoke on as winter nears. Over the four day festival, I was privileged to meet many people I had worked with over the past year but had yet to meet, as well as many others in the industry. I listened intently, hearing claims of epic powder days to life on the road as an athlete. But, the following interview did not come to fruition by a simple hello and shake of the hand.
Hey Nick, so how is life after IF3 going?
Pretty good, I am busy with a lot of school but it’s all right!
So first off, can you describe what ESK Media is and how it came about? And who else is on the ESK crew, filming and producing?
Well ESK started like every AM company, with some friends filming in our home mountain and trying to get enough footage together in order to make a little movie. We are now three [people] instead of two dealing with the whole production; Phil Dionne and Tony Verge, and I.
How did the slogan "ESK" come to fruition and what is its meaning?
Haha, well it meant, "East Side Killaz" at first and we just kept the three letters because it sounds good.
Nice, so you if you started just shredding the mountain as a skier, how did you end up behind the camera shooting the exploits of other skiers?
Well, I blew my ACL so I couldn’t ride for a while so I started editing and then filming. But now I have got back into skiing a bit and I will definitely have some shots in our next movie.
You also go to school in Quebec. How do you handle creating a full length movie while balancing school work and how does that affect your traveling to shoot throughout the winter months?
Well I think that's the hardest thing to manage, and that’s why we are now 3 [people] making the movie. I think school is important and I won’t drop it for making ski movies. But it’s possible to mix both, proof is when we made “The Affiliates” and it worked out well. We are not travelling that much, and next year we want to make a movie focused on Quebec and its history.
You film predominantly Quebec athletes. What makes Quebec and east coast skiers in general, unique, as opposed to the rest of the skiers in North America?
Well we're not that different but I think the fact that we are riding icy snow 75% of our winters helps east coast riders not being afraid of concrete landings.
You have traveled around shooting quite a bit, do you have a preference to whether you enjoy shooting on the east coast or west?
Both have their good side. What I like about the east coast is that we don't have many "all-ready-made" set ups - like huge jumps or insane park features - so we work with what we have to find and create the sickest urban set ups. But the west coast has those perfect big jumps, sunny summer camps, good vibes, and amazing lifestyle.
As one of the few outlets for upcoming skier in Canada, how do you take it upon yourself to display the rising stars in Canada and more specifically, the Quebec region?
Everything comes together as the winter arrives. I mean, there are some skiers I expect a lot from this winter but who knows what is going to happen next winter. For example, last winter I met this true slayer kid, Stef Curtis, near the end of the winter in Stoneham. I had never heard about him before and I have never seen someone kill the park like him. And now he's moving into Quebec City in November and filming with us and traveling to all the competitions.
How has creating ESK and filming and producing one of the biggest ski films in Canada changed your life?
Haha, first I would like to say that if Plehouse, Theory 3, and Mystic Land Productions were still around, it wouldn't be the same. But all in all, it doesn't change much. We're all the same, still in school, and doing our own thing. We're just having fun, shredding and filming. The day I start taking my role as a filmmaker too seriously will mean it is time to quit.
How do you feel about the general lack of major ski movies being produced in Canada and do you think this will change in the future?
I sincerely hope! There is such a large pool of talented kids everywhere and I’m sure next year some will pop out of the mass. I'm just thinking of those guys making “CASG Sundays” edits. Maybe they're not doing a typical movie but they make some sick web stuff and that's what's nice.
It's not really my goal. I want to make the best of what we have here, and wherever it brings us, I'll be super stoked.
Over the past couple years your films have been gathering in popularity and have even claimed a few NS Awards at the International Freeski Film Festival. What do you accredit this success to?
Ahh, I hate answering that question. I guess it's our overall style (skiing, filming, editing, etc) because obviously that's what they deem. Now what makes us different from any other AM companies like NSF or Chaoz? Maybe it was the vibe of the movie? We do our best to have a mellow and light vibe and I think that's what helped us a bit.
I dream of both, although it's hard to manage but like I said earlier, I'll definitely try to put a couple shots together this year, mostly half-pipe and BC if I can.
What advice would you give for aspiring filmers looking to put more of Canada on the map in the freeskiing industry?
Take it step by step, it's impossible to please everyone so just love what you are doing and keep doing it the way you like it.
But don't just sit there. You can grab a drink and see The Affilliates for yourself in the following towns in the near future :
Whistler, British Columbia: November 5th 2009
Magog, Quebec: November 7th 2009
Qubec City, Quebec: October 16th 2009
Check out to see other towns