In March 2016, photographer, filmmaker and Mountain Guide Ben Tibbetts travelled to east Greenland with three friends to climb and ski fresh slopes, using new 3D mapping technology that allowed them to virtually explore terrain they had never seen before. A Line in the Snow – Greenland tells the story of their adventure and interactions with local Inuit villagers. Here, Tibbetts explains how he came to make the film and what he hopes viewers will take from it.
What inspired you to make the film?
I’d taken on some pretty ambitious ideas previously in the Antarctic and recorded so much footage that I got overwhelmed, so I thought I’d take a more bite-size project. We took about 15 hours of footage in total, which is already quite a lot for a short film, but it is a manageable amount.
Was it a challenge to film in such harsh conditions?
It actually wasn’t horrendously cold – it was only down to about -15°C, and I was all rigged up for working in -40°C. It would have been impossible to charge your equipment in those kind of temperatures, but we were prepared with overboots, massive mitts and enormous sleeping bags.
The sea ice that linked us back to the village had the potential to collapse – and it did. I stayed there for another four weeks after this expedition and we had a complicated time just getting where we needed to go because the sea ice thinned out and you couldn’t ski across open water.
The terrain itself is really complicated, and that was where it was really useful to have the 3D mapping, which opened up how we were able to assess what terrain was going to be ski-able or not, before we’d even seen the slopes.
What do you want people to take from the film?
My personal interest is the delicate dance between the Inuit culture and the rapid modernisation that’s going on in the region. That was very difficult to put in images and I didn’t really get footage that allowed me to tell that story properly in the timeframe, but there are hints of that in the film.
The possibilities that 3D mapping opens up for us are really exciting, and then there was getting that balance of family, friends and risk in really wild place. Greenland is a really incredible place to visit – both culturally and because of the landscape.
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