Professor’s film showing at the Backcountry Film Festival

Professor Jeremy Lurgio's Film

Jeremy Lurgio’s short film "Backcountry Baker" will be featured in the Backcountry Film Festival playing at the Roxy Theater in Missoula Wednesday, February 11 at 7 p.m.

The five-minute piece won Best Grassroots Film at the festival this year. It tells the story of a dog named Baker and his owner, Ken Nyce, as they backcountry ski together in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains.

Lurgio, an associate professor in the J-School who teaches photography and multimedia classes, said he’s had the idea for this film for a while. 

“I did a lot of backcountry skiing before I had kids and I used to take my dog with me,” Lurgio said. “My wife and I used to ski together with both of our dogs.”

He always took photos with his dogs in the mountains so he decided to take it a step further with a film. Lurgio met Nyce and Baker during backcountry ski trips together, and chose to feature the two in his film. 

“I started skiing with (Nyce and Baker) a lot and the more that I skied with them I started thinking he and his dog would make a great story because they go out a lot,” Lurgio said, adding that the duo would go five days a week at times.

While Baker is not actually strapped to a ski, he is able to easily keep up with Nyce as they speed through the snow down the mountain together. Lurgio added that you can’t take all dogs backcountry skiing and that Baker is very athletic.

Lurgio used several different filming techniques over two winters, from setting up monopods to mounting GoPro cameras on Baker’s vest.

“I wanted people to feel the motion of the way a dog ski’s when they watch the film,” he said.

The biggest challenge of Backcountry Baker was filming as a journalist rather than a director. Lurgio said he wanted to film the pair “doing their thing” rather than directing them.

He also said it was challenging having a dog as the main character, but that he really wanted the story to be about Baker.

“It’s definitely about their relationship but I wanted it to be about the dog,” he said.

Lurgio said a lot of the students in his classes at UM are interested in this type of adventure filming and photography, so he’s glad that he’s gained some experience that he can pass on to them.

He added that he has two or three ideas for films he wants to take on in the next few years.

- posted on 02/11/15 -