Photos: Jeremy Pancras
This year’s feature-length offering from Jeremy Pancras Visuals feels like an expansion on his first movie, Would You. Just as he did for Would You Pan Pan, traveled the world filming and talking to skiers and friends, sharing their stories as well as their art. This makes Keep It Real feel perhaps more of a series of vignettes than one whole movie. It works well in some areas and left me wanting in others. Pan Pan does do a great job of keeping it relatable at all times which is something that I find often gets lost in more ski-centric films.
Since his injury in 2017, Jeremy has spent more time behind the lens, and he has used this platform to tell the world about his struggles during recovery from injury and what skiing means to him. In the opening scene of the film, Pan Pan talks about how putting on his ski gear and balaclava made the rest of the world fade away, something that I think resonates with all of us. Now that he’s back on snow and fully fit, I wondered whether PanPan found it hard to take a step back from skiing, pick up the camera, and create an epic project like this instead of just shredding:
JP: I found it frustrating maybe, at times. But my passion for filming grew so much that I felt as much pleasure when my homies stomped and we get the shot as when I was riding myself. So I wouldn’t say I found it hard. It’s a different way to enjoy the process. Most of the time I tended to film for hours and once the rider was done, exhausted, I’d ask him to hold the camera and give me 2 runs to stack my own shots.
The toughest part of the season was making my dream of being part of every segment, while not getting hurt, come true. I was skiing with my favorite riders so I couldn’t just take it easy, I wanted to challenge myself. We made it work though and I feel blessed and lucky.
Throughout filming, I couldn’t sleep much because of the stress. Besides skiing, I had to find artists/musicians/riders, manage the books, create a marketing plan, create a synopsis to put forward to sponsors for the movie. And then work out, travel, figure out places to stay, find passes for the team, find filmers, work on the other projects I had for clients on the production side… I slept 4 hours a night most of the time and to be honest it was a lot to deal with. I wanted that to come across in the movie, so I hope it does.
The first segment of the movie centers on Dom Laporte skiing urban in Quebec. We all know that the French Canadians are bonkers and this segment proves it. Dom hits features that are a little different and a lot big, with a really unique, aggressive style. He talks about the trade-off in the lifestyle of a competition skier compared to a gang of homies partying and shooting together. Loads of great party scenes in this segment get me itching for those season nights and the subsequent days. Jacob’s story in the following segment is a neat contrast, discussing the importance of breaking down the interdisciplinary walls in skiing, as well as what how he managed his relationship with Sofia in the early years of his career.
Other filmmakers are putting more skiing into punchier half-hour pieces, but Jeremy tells many stories here. On the whole, I enjoyed the balance, although at times I was yearning for some more ski porn. It is a tough balance to strike and naturally, how you think he’s done will depend on your personal tastes. I felt it went a bit too far in the opposite direction from traditional ski porn, and noticed it most in the Alts Bandai segment the most. The music pumps up and the tempo really ramps up but quickly cuts back to the more languid pace of the film. I felt teased.
By contrast, I feel like the balance in the segment where Jeremy travels to Virginia to meet with rapper and personal inspiration AWAN, is spot on. They talk about music, skating, skiing, punk rock, hip-hop, and life. Pan Pan directed one of his music videos which features skiing in La Clusaz, the skiing is snappy and flowy and there is an excellent array of front flips on display here too.
I wondered how Jeremy came to know AWAN in the first place, and Jeremy filled in the blanks and dropped some useful knowledge for budding skiers and filmmakers while doing so:
JP: I used one of Awon’s songs in an edit back in 2012, he replied to me on Instagram, allowed me to use his tracks for other projects and after years of talking and learning from the man I thought it was time to finally create and meet for real. Therefore I want to tell the kids that if they want to find dope artists for their edits, contact them on Instagram and explain your project to them, most of the songs used in the 2 movies have been given gracefully by the artists after I sent them a message on social networks. Of course, you gotta aim for those under a certain number of followers because there is less pressure for producers, managers, legal rights, etc… but give it a try it only costs a few words on your phone. Musicians like extreme sports and our sport wouldn’t be the same without them, it’s a great way for both to get known by other people than their own circle and that is why the community mattered so much in my project.
In the Andorra seg; Henrik Harlaut, Noah Albaladejo and Morten Grape get busy in Sunset Park Peretol but the segment didn’t really fire for me. The skiing felt a little underwhelming for the crew that was present, and some animation is thrown in which felt a little out of place given its absence in the rest of the movie. That being said, it might just be because as soon as I see Harlaut and Albaladejo together, especially in Andorra, my bar for “bangers” gets harder to meet, simply because of their history. Morten Grape’s back surface blind 2 on the S-rail might be my favorite shot of the movie though.
Jake Carney in Whistler
The final segment of the movie is Jake Carney and friends shredding the Whistler park. I knew this was coming as I’d seen it in the teasers. Jake talks about how snowboarders have influenced his style and how he wants to ride both hard and with style, we all know this is a truth self-evident at this point. Part of the segment did suffer from over cutting and editing making it at times hard to watch. Jake’s skiing does the talking for him here though and this still is a great closing segment.
On the whole, Keep It Real is an interesting and unique piece of ski media. I love how varied it is, and the pace makes a change from some more narrow-focused films that we see. I was a huge fan of Would You and I found it very hard not to compare the two. I felt that there was more skiing in last year’s film from Pan Pan and on the second watch of Keep It Real I really felt this absence. However, as a cinematic piece on a single viewing, I found Keep It Real extremely engaging. The movie closes well as Jeremy makes a brief speech which ties the themes of the movie together really nicely in an inspirational manner. Keep It Real set out to tell some stories and change your perspective and it does just that. It’s more of an epic homage to skiing than pure ski porn, but it’s an incredible piece of work. Check it for yourself when it drops tomorrow (11/25).
I wanted to round this out with a couple more answers from the man himself.
MM: Which trip for this movie was your favorite to be on and why?
JP: Japan was definitely a peak of my season because of so much snow shared with the people I love in a Japanese community that I respect and love but I’d say that Whistler felt the best because I was back doing what I’ve done since I was a kid: shredding a sunny snowpark during 10 days knowing that I would be done with the project at the end of the trip. It felt awesome to know that I made it through the season without injuries, surrounded by some more homies I love, partying, sharing experiences and feeling myself on skis. I caught up with Awon in Virginia right after where we created a music video we’re proud of and that was priceless too. To be honest, all of those trips were specials on their own and I couldn’t rank them. It’s all love and passion sharing at the end :)
MM: With your second project completed, feature-length this time, what else can we expect from Jeremy Pancras Visuals?
JP: I want to get back on my skis more and more as I spent the last 2 years focusing on others skiing and less on mine. I won’t produce another full-length movie because I said everything I wanted to to the world for now. My goal is now to bring my production and skiing into a place people haven’t been already which is mixing music videos with my own skiing like you will discover in KEEP IT REAL: more skiing, more creativity and more time on my own to train and develop the production.