Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Reprint: My SportsFanLive Blog Post

March 15, 2010

On the heels of my trip to the Vancouver Olympics with the APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER “crew” (aka Seth Caplan, producer, and Mo Grosser, music sup), I was approached about writing a blog post about the experience for SportsFanLive.

So I did. Chance to gush about my film AND score free PR? Yes, please.

The post is still available here, BUT because I’m cranking out another draft of the book adaptation* today (a pass on the bad girl character… making her badder), and a shiny, new draft of LOSERS was delivered yesterday, I don’t have time to do a fresh blog post. I believe in recycling in real life and in blog life so… I’m publishing my SportsFanLive post here for those who missed it the first time and for those who were to lazy to click this time.

Bonus! I’ll include more pics from the trip than the SportsFanLive people did. Yeah, I got your back.

Director Anna Christopher was in Vancouver to follow skier Casey Puckett, the subject of her documentary, Appointment In Vancouver. The film focuses on Puckett’s life as a world-class athlete, father of two and hometown hero, who was preparing for his fifth Olympic appearance. Here is Christopher’s account Puckett’s latest Olympic experience:

The girls of team AIV got lots of attention for our gear and not being disgusting looking.

We made awesome signs. Amazing signs. Signs that deserved to be on TV. Which was exactly the intention.

After camera-tailing four-time Olympian Casey Puckett for three years and making an applauded documentary about him, my producer, music supervisor, brother (who is in the film) and I scrapped our way to the Olympic Games. With our signs in hand, we were determined to get our film,Appointment In Vancouver, and our favorite skier cross racer, Casey Puckett, some network coverage.

Appointment In Vancouver documents Casey’s dramatic/thrilling/gut-wrenching/inspiring journey to the Games. We capture the challenges Casey faces as an elite athlete competing on the world’s stage and as a father juggling gold-medal dreams while raising kids. The film offers audiences a rare, exclusive glimpse of the mental, emotional and physical trials of a retired Olympic athlete making a comeback at age 37.

Me, our tickets, Mo.

The film was born the moment I met Casey. The IOC had recently named Skier Cross as the “new” Olympic sport to debut in Vancouver. Casey said then that he “had an appointment in Vancouver.” His unwavering faith and determination to compete in the 21st Winter Olympics hooked me. He’d competed on the U.S. Ski team since he was 19, raced in Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City. Never medaled. He retired after his final Olympics. Final? Actually, not so much. That’s one of the reasons his story is so inspiring.

Through a mix of chance, fate, and itch of “unfinished business,” Casey fell in love with the emerging sport of Skier Cross. Before he knew it, he was back on the slopes and dominating the field unlike he’d ever done as an Alpine racer. He’d found his cup of tea, and he was guzzling it down. EvenDaron Rahlves, Casey’s teammate, Alpine racing legend, and co-star of Appointment In Vancouver, admits that Casey was better at Skier Cross than he ever was in Alpine. In the film, Daron says, “My heart pumps a little harder when I line up against Casey because I know what he can do.”

"O Canada" you love red. And Chris Del Bosco.

As the Appointment In Vancouver crew climbed the million stairs to the grandstand on February 21, 2010, we wondered what Casey would do that day. The crowd seemed to be pondering the same thing of all the athletes. An excited but serious vibe emanated from the grandstand as the first heats began. Every race of four-on-four skiers was enthralling but the crashes were brutal, which I think caused the pensive energy in the stands. There was no doubt — this sport was way more electrifying than curling.

Friends have told me the TV coverage made the course appear easy. From our vantage point, it was not. The crowd gave every race its entire attention because if you looked away for a second, you may miss something unbelievable. This universal focus gave bonded all of us in the crowd without words. We were all there for the love of this new sport and the fearless racers who tried to conquer it.

Monster jump after "trouble alley" at the end of the SX course.

In the first couple heats, scary pile-ups unfolded right before our eyes in the last turn to the final obstacle — a monster jump. We started calling that toilet-bowl turn “trouble alley” and worried about how Casey would handle it. I remembered Casey’s perseverance. He fought through seven surgeries to be here. His most recent injury happened in January when on the way to his first World Cup victory. He fell a mere six seconds from the finish and separated his shoulder. In that moment, even he thought the ride was over. However, he pushed through, rehabbed the injury in six weeks, and was here in Cypress on the day Skier Cross was debuting at the Games. No matter what Casey would be a part of history.

And he was. Not with a medal or a massive crash but by laying down a solid race. Because of his

Daron, on the other hand, did crash.

injured shoulder, he came out of the gates slower than he’d like and found himself in fourth place. Despite his best efforts, he stayed in fourth for the whole race.

Casey and I texted after the event. What did I say? I’m not sure. There’s not a go-to phrase for “I’m sorry you didn’t achieve your dream and our dream for you.” I know he was disappointed. So was I. But he gave the race everything he had and that’s all you can ask. The Appointment In Vancouver team remained in the stands until the end of the event, enjoying the spectacle of the sport but without the gusto with which we began. We left our signs in the stands.

The funny thing is that when I returned to Los Angeles, I screened Appointment In Vancouver for a few friends. The film ends just before Casey goes to the Olympics. My friends knew the outcome of the Games, yet they loved the film. Even I still loved it. I realized that Casey didn’t win a medal on February 21, 2010, but the journey that got him to that historic day, his Appointment In Vancouver,was pure gold.

— ANNA CHRISTOPHER

*When am I going to announce the book and the subsequent project news!?!?!?! I’m waiting on a few possible press opps to either play out or to die a cold, ignored death to determine when I sing the news from the blogsphere mountain tops.

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In Shaun White’s Company

March 2, 2010

Look what Seth (producer on APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER) spotted on Amazon.com today!

According to Amazon, we’re #22 on their “Movies – Sports – Skiing & Snow Sports” sales list and ranked #68 on their “Olympics” sales roundup.

Not bad, especially since we encourage everyone to buy AIV at IndieFlix instead of Amazon because we get a better cut of the purchase price! It’s showBUSINESS, folks.

Fresh Site, Sale Price, Finale

March 1, 2010

Now that we are “post-Olympic” and AIV is ON SALE for $12.99, I updated the APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER website. I wish I could have revised it with news of Casey winning a medal rather than a sale price. I’m sure Casey wishes the same. Despite this wish, I am moving forward and am grateful for the tremendous experience and excellent film that came out of knowing, following and believing in Casey. I hope Casey’s doing the same.

Since the Games, Casey and I have only been able to text and email. However, I basically run his Facebook Fan Page, so I’m privy to the outpouring of love and support Casey’s fans have been sending him. He’s an inspiration to a lot of people. Hopefully, he’s checking their posts.

Besides that icy-cool sale price, the new AIV site now includes:

  • pictures of me, Seth and Mo (Music Supervisor) on our trip to Vancouver to cheer Casey on in his 5th Olympic Games
  • soundtrack information (band, song, website, picture cue)
  • an updated Casey bio
  • new photos and newspaper clippings from Casey’s youth and early ski career

I removed the calendar page because we’re not sure what’s next for AIV. We’re crossing our fingers on a couple great film fests this Spring and also waiting to hear from Casey about his plans for after this season.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sending in a blog post for SportsFanLive about APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER and our trip to the Games. They work with AOL Sports and have promised that their “module” with AOL will feature the my post. Maybe we’ll get some traffic and sales from the exposure!

Now I must prep for the finale of THE BACHELOR. As Vice Commissioner of Here For the Right Reasons: The Bachelor Fantasy League, I’m hosting a screening/finale party for all the LA league members. Everyone’s bringing a snack inspired by their favorite bachelorette. This idea, ordained by me, is particularly troublesome for me. I’m on a cleanse which means no glutens, refined sugar, red meat, booze or dairy in my snack. I want to think up something clever and funny for my contribution like my friend who is bringing shrimp cakes in honor of Tenley aka “The Little Mermaid: Ariel.”  Good one, huh?

My  brain is so fried from all the writing I’ve been doing on my latest project (haven’t announced it) that all I can think of is mini hot dogs inspired by Gia because she looks like a sad puppy. Pitiful idea. Even if I were to try and swing that snack with the league, I couldn’t even eat it because of the cleanse restrictions.

Vudu? You Do. Do What?

February 24, 2010

Despite Casey’s disappointing showing at the Olympics — which sounds harsh but I can’t think of any other way of describing it … more on this in a post later this week — there is good news for AIV:

APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER will be available on Vudu and Hulu soon.

I’m particularly excited about our inclusion on Vudu considering the online movie service was recently purchased by Wal-mart. The digital provider is being built into more and more TVs and Blu-ray players. Analysts are predicting that over 60 percent of HD televisions will connect to the Internet by 2013. From a NYT article about the acquisition:

Now, however, the idea of an Internet-ready home entertainment setup has a powerful new backer: Wal-Mart

Movie stores like Vudu’s also compete directly with the video-on-demand services of the cable companies, and generally have better selection, more high-definition content, friendlier menus and fuller descriptions of the programs.

More immediate, if Wal-Mart puts its marketing power behind the Vudu service, it could give a lift to sales of Internet-ready televisions and disc players, which generally cost a few hundred dollars more than devices without such capabilities…

Panasonic and Sony are the only major manufacturers that have not yet added the Vudu service to their devices. With Wal-Mart, one of their biggest retailers, taking it over, manufacturers will now have another reason to include Vudu.

It’s very cool that our is being added to Vudu’s library on the heels of Wal-mart’s purchase of the company.  I’m told AIV will probably become Vudu-available when they launch their sports collection with Teton Gravity and Video Action Sports. Stay tuned.

Likewise, when the film is available Hulu, I’ll make an announcement. I can’t wait to direct fans and friends to AIV on Hulu because it’s free, BUT we get a share of the commercial revenue. For inquiring minds, it’s about a penny per person per commercial. Who knows, we might make 10’s of dollars!

In Vancouver to see Casey race for Gold

February 20, 2010

In Vancouver to see Casey race for Gold in Skier Cross on Sunday. Having super fun and Will blog all about it next week!

First Interview with Casey Since His Surgery

January 19, 2010

On Saturday, Seth and I interviewed with Lois Fein, host of IndieFlix’s Play It Again Podcasts.  Lois had done her research and asked some great questions about APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER.

My favorite discussion topics strayed from the obvious questions (how’d we meet Casey, what the story is about).  I liked discussing why Casey was a good subject for a documentary, how our film differs from the traditional sports doc, what we would consider a “gold medal” in our own lives/careers, and what we personally took away from our time with Casey and his story.

See how I did that? Got you wanting to listen to the podcast. Clever girl.

Before we called Casey midway through the session, Lois let us suggest questions to ask him.  These questions resulted in some great soundbytes from Casey.  What can I say? We know how to ask Casey questions.  A particularly fun answer came from Casey when asked about the scene in the Olympic village.  Let’s just say that ‘meat market’ was part off his response.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the whole interview was talking to Casey.  As far as I know, this is the first interview he’s given since his crash in Les Contamines and subsequent shoulder surgery.  Finally, we had the answers to the extent of his injury and surgery, his emotional state, and what exactly happened in the race.  I urged Lois to recognize the value of the interview (exclusive, with Casey, only one out there) and encouraged her to capitalize on it. It could really spike her traffic if she shared it with other media sources.

It was painful listening to Casey admit that he was six seconds away from winning his first World Cup – something I know is incredibly important to him, something that he feels separates him from the greats, something that his teammates hold over his head – and one second later he’s in incredible pain, thinking his season is over… And he didn’t even win the race.

My heart sunk when he talked about how he thought the whole thing was dead.  “Thing” being his lifelong dream of an Olympic medal. But after a successful surgery and discovery that his clavicle was not broken (just separated), he knows he is still going to Vancouver, and, more importantly, he still has a most precious thing: hope.

Play It Again Podcasts post every Tuesday.  Lois thinks our episode will be available on either 1/26 or 2/2.  I’ll let you know when I know.

Alright, gotta get some writing done before tonight’s “LA premiere” of APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER in Film Independent’s Cinema Lounge!

TONIGHT: Free Screening of My Movie

January 19, 2010


Friends and Fans,

My documentary about 4-time Olympian and Skier Cross superstar Casey Puckett is screening in Los Angeles TONIGHT! 7:30pm. W Hotel. Westwood.

Casey will be racing for GOLD in the Vancouver Games on Feb. 21, so let’s just all call this screening what it is: a hotbed of Olympic fever. Get out the red-white-n-blue face paint!

This film is indeed “the ski movie” Seth Caplan and I have been making for the last three years. Nowadays we call it APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER* and direct people to purchase it at Indieflix.com, Amazon.com, or our website.

However, lucky you can see it for FREE. And drink FREE beer. And eat FREE popcorn. It’s all part of Film Independent’s Cinema Lounge. For more details, check out my earlier post about the event.

The Olympics are only 29 days away, so come out and discover who you should be rooting for in February!

Going for Gold,

AC

*APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER is an enthralling documentary about four-time Olympian Casey Puckett and his journey to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to compete for gold in the Games’ newest medal sport: Skier Cross.  In addition to the thrilling Skier Cross action footage, APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER delivers an intimate portrait of a world-class athlete preparing for the most important race of his long career.  Following Casey through victories, defeats, family drama and injuries, the film offers audiences a rare, exclusive glimpse of the mental and physical preparations an Olympic athlete endures.  The film crew followed Casey for more than three years to capture his story. Featuring interviews with close friends of Casey and ski legends Daron Rahlves and Finn Gundersen, the movie also boasts: POV race footage shot from helmet cams, disastrous ski crashes from around the globe, and never-before-seen footage of Casey on and off of the mountain.

The Magic of Snow (No Matter How Slushy)

May 29, 2009

Casey waits for us to gather our gear and ride the lift with himm.It was so fun filming Casey on snow. Prior to last week’s Mammoth  mountain shoot, I hadn’t had the opportunity to shoot Casey Puckett on skis doing what he loves, doing what he’s made to do which is skiing really fast.  

Appointment in Vancouver is about Casey, a four time Olympian making his final bid for a medal in the new sport Skier Cross, which debuts at the 2010 Games.  This newest footage is exactly what the film needed.  And what, as a fan of

 Casey’s, I loved filming the most.

Previously, we had videoed Casey during the off season in Aspen where he’s considered hometown hero (though he’s a Crested Butte native).  There is no doubt in my mind that the Aspen footage is priceless — it’s all about Casey as a dad, a friend, a dude, an athlete rehabing his latest injury, a man with a recipe for killer salsa.

But filming Casey on snow made the documentary CLICK.  

 

Casey practices his starts.Casey is a worldclass athlete and being on the mountain with him is invigorating. We have tons of footage of him skiing from the last twenty years of Olympics he competed in, the last six years of his Skier Cross tours, and even of his first years on the mountain.  All of this is to say that I’ve seen Casey ski.  A lot.  But not in person. Not with a camera in my hand.  Not knowing that everything we shoot WE own the rights to!!! 

We went nuts.  I had a camera most the time, Seth (producer) had a camera, and our nicest camera was always with Jason Oldak (a super talented Cinematographer that also studied at AFI with Seth and I).  Jason was phenomenal on the snow — he captured gorgeous candid moments with Casey as well as sports-rific, awe-inspiring SLOW-MO shots of skiers zooming at 70mph through gates.  

My favorite footage is super slow mo of Casey working on his starts at the gate. It’s incredibly dramatic material, and it’s not even of Casey on a race day.  You can see his focus, determination, and the heart and soul physically manifesting themselves in every start.  Thank you Casey for being a premiere athlete with your eye glued on Gold.  And thank you Jason for capturing “all that” on film.  

What’d else did we get?

  • Interview with Casey’s (awesomely nice) coach/former competitor Tyler
  • A 2 hour interview with Casey (really wonderful answers from Cas; I’m feeling that with every interview Casey and I trust each other more and more and that soon Casey will build upon his already candid responses and let us (and our camera) in to his brain and heart even more intimately; this kind of honesty is what will make the film because, as Seth and I deeply believe, this film is not just a highlights reel.  It’s a story.  Much more cinema than clips.
  • Casey’s morning rituals and dryland workouts
  • Casey hanging with his roommates over a bowl of cerealand discussing the next year/past year/injuries/etc.
  • Interview with Casey on the chair lift
  • Casey and the U.S. Ski Team running a GS course
  • Casey practicing starts on a newly built gate (this footage is priceless because so much of Casey’s race success is dependent on how great of a start he has; he and Tyler take this train
  • Casey icing his knee
  • Mountain shots; Ski culture beauty shots (think The Hills-style but on a BIG hill)
  • Casey’s confessional.  I gave Casey the camera.  A little direction.  A big smile.  And the advice that I’ll only share with him.  And then left him a lone with the camera.

We got back Friday night exhausted but superbly pleased with the massive amount of footage we attained in less than 72 hours.  

As a bonus, Casey and his ski tech Jonathan needed a place to crash in LA on Saturday.  Of course, I offered my place!  I’d be a terrible documentarian if I didn’t.

A bunch of my friends and I showed the guys the town (Seven Grand, Tony’s, unnamed warehouse dance party). It was really fun to NOT film Casey and instead play billiards with him and crack up at his dance impressions of members of our entourage.  

If the budget allows, our next stop is Mt. Hood in mid-June with Casey.  It’s the U.S. Ski Team’s final Olympic training camp before they head to New Zealand.

The AIV crew and star!

NYT Article: “Feisty Version of Ski Racing Elbows Into Mainstream”

January 23, 2009

When I met four-time Olympian Casey Puckett at a wedding he was embarking on a journey out of retirement to the 2010 Olympic podium.  It immediately cared about and wanted to follow.  I snuck out of the reception and called producer Seth Caplan saying, “I’ve got a documentary for us.”  

Two and a half years later, Seth, Curtis Pierce (editor) and I are finishing up the sales reel for Appointment in Vancouver, which in a flash shows Casey’s story of battling age, injury, family drama, and the odds as he pursues his unwavering dream of gold in the Olympics newest and most exciting sport — Skier Cross.  When he makes it to the games, he will be the first athlete to compete in five winter Olympics.  

Turns out The New York Times also thinks Casey’s one to watch.  Check out “Feisty Version of Ski Racing…”


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