It was a beautiful sunny April day – the second to last day of the season at Revelstoke Mountain Resort – Kaleb Weston and some his friends were just outside the resort boundaries building a 100-foot jump.
Revelstoke’s Cam Kaegi was the first to hit the jump. Coming at high speed, he soared through the air at high-speed, rotating several times and overshooting the landing by 50-60 feet.
“It was actually one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen,” said Weston, who was filming the proceedings. “I honestly thought I’d just watched Cam die.
“He went so big.”
Amazingly, Kaegi landed the jump and rode away unscathed. He climbed back up the top, hit the jump again and threw down a double back-flip.
A few other skiers performed similarly impressive feats that day and Weston was there to capture it all on film for his first real film production, Self Taught, which is showing at the C3 Church on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
As the title implies, Weston, 19, has taught himself his craft. It started with simply filming his friends when they went skiing and mountain biking. He learned how to edit by watching tutorials on YouTube and would put together segments for the annual Christmas follies at Revelstoke Secondary School.
In 2010, he and Kaegi created All Things Go, their first attempt at a film. They called themselves Inflik Media and their 24-minute production featured them and their friends tearing it up around RMR.
This year, with Kaegi deciding to focus on skiing, Weston took up the sole filmmaking responsibilities, with photographer Royce Sihlis capturing stills from the shoots.
“Last winter, I decided I wanted to pursue my filming career and go for gold,” said Weston.
With that in mind, he spent $2,800 on a high-end video camera he bought second hand from ski film company Poor Boyz Productions. He also bought himself a Canon 60D.
And then he went and criss-crossed B.C., filming some of the provinces best young skiers. First he filmed in Revelstoke. Then he went to Invermere to film friend Michael Brush at Panorama. He also filmed at Silver Star, Big White, Sun Peaks and Whistler, as well as urban segments in Salmon Arm. “It was a lot of crashing on friends’ couches,” said Weston.
He spent his work experience alongside veteran ski filmmaker Vance Shaw (he edited Shaw’s movie The Powder Highway, though he did not enjoy working with Shaw), and only had one course in his final semester of high school, allowing him time to hit the road and pursue his dream. “How I graduated high school was very, very lucky,” he said.
His teachers’ were understanding and knew what he was up to.”It wasn’t a secret to anybody.”
The skiers Weston filmed were like him – looking to get exposure in the skiing world. He estimates their average age to be about 16- to 17-years-old. He filmed segments with Revelstoke locals Kaegi, Rylan Keppler and Jake Teuton. He also met up with young skiers at other resorts, crashing on their couches or sleeping in his car; as well as making use of all his connections to get free lift tickets.
I asked Weston the difference between Self Taught and All Things Go. “Not even comparable,” he replied. The latter, he said, was something fun to do with friends. The former: “Filming this was a way of life.”
Weston’s goal is to become a professional filmmaker. This winter he has moved to Kamloops where he is working at Future Shop. He has filmed several segments with skier Kieran Nikula and his aim is to build a portfolio in order to be accepted to film school.
Self Taught will be showing with LSL Production’s Can’t Not Be Feeling This at the C3 Church on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. There will be DVDs for sale, prize giveaways, and all proceeds from concession sales will go to the Haiti Relief Fund. Tickets are $10.