Lock and Load

“Lock and load, send the kid in,” says Nate Wallace, an expatriate friend of Glen Plake’s who’s living in Chamonix. His line comes at the beginning of a scene that’s set at the top of the Poubelle Couloir off the Grands Montets. It’s March 2005 and young Kye Petersen is about to ski the couloir with mentors Plake, Anselme Baud, and Stephane “FanFan” Dan. Everyone is being careful with Kye. And then Nate cuts through it all with his completely unfiltered dictum.

“Lock and load, send the kid in! It’s okay, you’re a kid. You’ll bounce.”

It rings in my head today.

My last 13 weeks have been like that, other people’s voices filling my skull, occasionally spilling out, as we’ve been editing The Edge of Never. Creating a 100-minute documentary feature film out of a script and a mountain of footage is like taking a three-month, underground mining expedition with people who never stop talking. The tunnel is dark and labyrinthine. The map is flimsy and you’re often too lost to know you’re lost. After a while you lose even your own voice, your very thoughts swallowed up by the caterwaul of the characters you’re cutting. The editor, Steve Haugen, and I share a lexicon made of other people’s quips.

“He go backwards!” exclaims FanFan.

“Lookey there, Dude,” says Plake.

“Our rope is very short,” says Anselme.

“You got razors, I got razors,” says Plake. “I’m gonna use em.”

“It’s okay,” says FanFan, “no pressure.”

“Guns, helicopters, and first descents,” says Eric Pehota.

We use these quotes in place of our own words in the way that junior high school kids used to employ Saturday Night Live impressions in place of original expressions. It’s vaguely funny to us and useful too, a cipher against complete lunacy, impenetrable to anyone who has not watched a thousand hours of this footage. It is an addiction, this mainlining of others’ words, one that I will begin to wean myself from today. Late last night we took the first step: we locked picture, ending the creative off-line editing process and beginning the technical on-line stage (color correction, audio sweetening, credits, titles, etc.). In five weeks we will begin showing the film on tour. I’m planning the coast-to-coast expedition now: 55 shows in 10 weeks. And I’ll be at every one.

Lock and load, send the kid in.

2 Responses to “Lock and Load”

  1. Bill, it seems like yesterday when I first you and the boys from New York up in Whister. I was immediately imipressed with your sincerity and felt I could trust you with producing a film about
    my son Trevor and grandson Kye. It is such a tender touch for me.
    So many unexpected things happening along the way, so many tight spots to navigate, so many
    intense people to balance in the skiing community: I am exceedingly proud of your accomplishment. You had that certain determination in your eye when I first met you and it never wavered, and throughout the many and complicated twists and turns’ you never gave up.
    What an exciting and spectacular film awaits the world: those who value family ties, those who value spectacular scenery and those who enjoy a great tale.
    My congratulations to you and your film crew.

  2. Thank you so much Beth. None of this would’ve been possible without you!

    You’re the best.


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