Night Skiing With Emergency Flares—One Epic Ride: Short Film Showcase Filmmaker Q&A

Watch Greg Tuscher and Nicolas Vuignier as they ski and snowboard at night in Wallis, Switzerland, with lit rescue flares attached to the back of their equipment. The sparks illuminate the mountainside and cast ephemeral shadows of the riders. I spoke with Nicolas Vuignier about the film he produced with Jules Guarneri.

When did you first start skiing?

I started skiing when I was 2 (years old). My parents are both ski teachers so they put me on skis very early.

What sparked this idea?

I saw a couple videos of people using flares on water, on a surf, or on water skis. I figured it should work on snow, and that idea evolved into this project.

How many flares did you end up using?

We used close to 25 flares for this shoot and they lasted around one minute.

Can you tell me a bit more about the process?

We would look at the lines we wanted to ski during the day and try to memorize them as best as we could. We would the wait until the last light of the day to light the flare up and ski. There was pretty much a 10-minute time frame where it was dark enough for the flares to light up the surroundings, but bright enough for us to see some of the terrain we were going to ski. It was a lot of waiting for two to three stressful minutes.

Were there any particularly challenging moments?

There were a lot of variables that made this shoot challenging. We had a pretty bad winter last year, that made things so much more complicated because we had the right snow conditions only two to three times per month that meant we started shooting in January and ended in April. As the days get longer we ended up having to wait until almost 10 p.m. on the mountain, to film 20 seconds of skiing.

What was the best part of the shoot?

Staying up late in the mountains, knowing we were out there alone was definitely an enjoyable specificity of this project. The most thrilling thing about this shoot was the feeling of having to perform within the short time the flares were lighting up the line.

National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic’s belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

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Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Rachel Link curates content for National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. Each week she features films from talented creators that span a range of topics. She hopes that this work will inspire viewers to explore the world around them and encourages filmmakers to keep pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.