Posted at Push.ca by Pete Andersen
For every great snowboard shot there needs to be at least one great snowboarder, and one great cinematographer. Gabe Langlois is one great cinematographer. Growing up in the heart of the Okanagan in the town of Oliver, BC, Gabe was blindsided by the snowboarding bug at his local resort of Mt. Baldy and hasn’t looked back since. After high school he made his way to Rossland, also in the interior of BC, before being convinced to move to Whistler two years later. With no formal training behind the lens, Gabe took his propensity for snowboarding and channeled it into his cinematography. His dedication to the shred has always, and will continue to, drive his search for perfection through the viewfinder.
Now 34 years old and one of the most accomplished filmers in the snowboard game today, Gabe still calls the Whistler and Pemberton area of BC home even though he doesn’t spend much time there. As a principal cinematographer for Curt Morgan’s production company, Brain Farm, Gabe is constantly circling the globe chasing after the likes of Travis Rice and company. Currently working on the follow up to the jaw dropping That’s It That’s All film project, Gabe and fellow filmers, Jared Slater and Greg Wheeler, have their work cut out for them. I caught up with Gabe, fresh off a two month road swing with Travis Rice, Mark Landvik, Scotty Lago and John Jackson and got the skinny on what makes Gabe tick, and what it’s like working with the most progressive snowboard production company on the planet.
What got you started behind the lens?
I started out snowboarding and my friend Rick Johnston, who eventually went on to make the Tree Top movies, was making low budget snowboard films that I was in. I was never really as good as the rest of the guys though (laughing). One summer I was going to Chile with a friend named Travis Robb but Rick Johnston couldn’t make it. So Rick basically taught me how to shoot a 16mm camera in an afternoon and me and Travis Robb filmed this ghetto Chilean section and it ended up in the movie, which was pretty awesome. Two years later Rick started doing Tree Top and asked me if I wanted to film for him. I was a little hesitant because I was so used to snowboarding all the time and figured I would kind of lose out a bit, but once I started doing it I realized that I totally enjoyed it. It was a great way to hang out in the mountains with snowboarders as much as before but actually getting paid this time (laughing).
What’s on your resume these days?
Well, I started with Tree Top and then shot with Absinthe for two years. Then I met a guy named Rich Goodwin and he was really good friends with Travis Rice. They decided to make that film called Community Project and he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. So I quit Absinthe and went to work with Rich. That was when I met Curt Morgan who owns Brain Farm. We hit it off really well and have been working together ever since, working together for about five years now. We’re a pretty good match; he’s kind of a slave driver but he’s an extremely talented individual, that’s for sure.
What’s some of the craziest stuff you’ve seen working with Brain Farm?
(laughing) Travis is always above and beyond everyone else, by far, as far as him doing left-of-center stuff. He’s always trying to up the shock value, know what I mean? At the same time Curt Morgan is doing the same thing in his own right. He won’t take no for an answer and he doesn’t do things the easy way. He’s the classic ?Director’ style, kind of guy. ?No’ just isn’t good enough; you have to get it done and it has to get done the way he wants it. On a production level, to be around Curt every day is the craziest, but on a snowboard craziness level it’s definitely any time I’m with Travis. He does the craziest stuff. No way I could think of one thing specifically…no way.
How was your season this year?
Our plan originally was to stay in Jackson before doing the Trajillo Heli trip in the Chugach range in Alaska, but Jackson was having the worst season ever. I went down there at the very beginning of March and there was literally grass in the mountains, super warm and just not winter at all. So we hunkered down there for about two weeks to try and stick it out but it was futile. Then Travis was like, “let’s hit the road!” I have been trying to convince him to go to Whistler forever but he has never really listened so we decided to drive up to AK and stop in Whistler along the way. We got a couple of good days but it really started to warm up. We had a really crazy day where Travis fell behind this huge cornice in Chocolate Bowl and then one of the other camera guys, Jared Slater, came over not knowing what was going on - total ?dear in the headlights’ - walks up and falls into exactly the same crack, which was bridged with 6 inches of snow. So now not only do we have Travis in there, but all of a sudden we have Jared in there as well (laughing). We were calling down to them and they were both fine and about 20 feet down. We pulled the ropes out, but it took about an hour to finally get them out. After that the guys decided it was getting a little too warm so we packed up and headed north. We went up to Valdez, hung out for 10 days and heli’d a little bit…so, yeah, it was pretty sick.
What’s the production timeline on this new project?
The working name for the film is called Flight. We’re supposed to be finished so it can be released in September of 2011. It’s going to have a bunch of the same people and some new guys as well. It’s not going to be based around Travis as much as That’s It That’s All but he always seems to be the spotlight anyway (laughing). It’s kind of travel-based. It’s going to be similar to the last one as far as the formula goes, but different locations and more people.
What keeps you filming and doing what you do now?
I get to travel a lot. It’s kind of tough these days though, I mean, if you have a job in the industry then you better be thankful for it. A lot of people are getting the shaft and there are a lot less productions and a lot less of everything, really. I feel really fortunate that I get to work with these guys and do what I get to do. Brain Farm’s whole deal is doing things bigger and better than the next guy. I feel super fortunate that way, for sure. At the end of the day, if I’m going to say anything, it’s that I am really thankful for what I get to do and hopefully it continues. It’s really all about being in the right place at the right time (laughing)!
Here are a couple of the ?toys’ Gabe gets to play with daily…
Panasonic VariCam 3700
Phantom High Speed Camera
And in case you needed a refresher on some of Gabe’s work: