Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

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.


*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.

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!

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!

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