The Coast Mountains of British Columbia defy easy description. With a north-south span of over 1200 kilometres, and as much area as roughly eight Switzerlands, most of the range is wilderness with no easy access.
You could spend a lifetime exploring this enormous range with its rainforests, peaks, glaciers, coastline and plateaus—and still find new terrain.
It is a daunting task to sum it all up, but Shaped By Wild gives it a shot. The new film, now freely available, approaches the range through the people who have chosen to forge a life here.
For those who embrace this vastness, the attraction is innate and often hard to articulate in words—it is an all-consuming topography that moulds the individuals who live here.
Q: Firstly, considering the size of the Coast Mountains region, how did you decide where to film?
A: Truly an impossibility to capture the entire range but that is a large part of how this film came to be. We wanted to take what we see in the depths of the Coast Range and share that with the world. The visual list was easy; the ocean, wet coastal fjords, rainforests, dry plateaus, high mountains and glaciated alpine terrain.
The hard part was how to shoot that over 1200 km of terrain. The best way to bring it all to life was to share the stories of people who call these different environments home.
Q: Were you trying to find areas that had not been filmed/photographed as much, or did weather conditions mainly dictate where you could or couldn’t go?
A: In such a large range it wasn’t a concern to find areas that had not been filmed/photographed. Not only is the beauty off the charts and extensive, it’s incredibly inaccessible and as you mentioned weather can be a real barrier. It was more important to find the right people that largely informed nailing down the exact locations.
Q: How much of the film is about the culture of the Coast Mountains and how much is about skiing/riding/sailing, etc.? Or are the two topics more or less inseparable in the film?
A: I would say it’s all about the mountain culture of the Coast Range. Snowsports and sailing are synonymous with the Coast Range but our greatest fortune in this film was working with the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation. Chief Jimmy Lulua says it so excellently in this quote: “These mountains define who we are as people, they hold our creation stories and shape who we are.”
Q: Is there a conservation message implicit in the film?
A: Yes definitely! This was discussed a lot at the beginning. The intention of this film was to stay focused on the people while celebrating the beauty that requires us to advocate for its protection.
I think about this often when I am out in the more remote corners surrounded by such extensive wilderness. In places like the Waddington Range it is easy to look around and only see icecaps, mountains and glaciated terrain but in direct contrast so much of the land both in the southern fjords and on Vancouver Island is stripped bare by logging. But that is a whole other film…so stay tuned.
Q: Does the film frame the Coast Mountains as in any way threatened by human encroachment or does it focus more on the harmonious aspects of human/nature interactions?
A: The film is more centred on the people and how the environment, the mountains, the seasons, the remoteness and the weather in all its wet and cold glory shape the people who call it home.
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