JACKSON, Wyo. — Nexus, a feature-length ski film, premieres in Jackson tonight, Thursday, Oct. 27, at The Center Theater.
Featuring women in front of and behind the camera, Nexus isn’t the first female ski flick, but as a high-budget movie directed and produced by an all-women team, it’s “the film we all wished we had growing up,” Director and Executive Producer Shannon Corsi said.
Nexus follows five groups of female skiers from the Tetons to Alaska, exploring themes of adversity, strength and friendship—as well as sharing lessons learned on skis.
Opening the film are longtime local skiers Jane Gallie and Margo Krisjansons, who share their experiences of backcountry skiing in the Tetons for the last 40 years. Their story is the common thread woven throughout the film, with four other segments each featuring a duo of athletes.
Brooklyn Bell and Michelle Parker explore mentorship in the big mountains of Alaska, former Queens of Corbet’s Veronica Paulsen and Caite Zeliff seek powder in Revelstoke, Lucy Sackbauer and Ingrid Stensvaag balance dual lives as healthcare workers and elite athletes and Krystin Norman and Sasha Dingle turn to skiing for connection and community, just like their mothers did after fleeing the Vietnam War and immigrating to the U.S.
Corsi and Director of Photography Sophie Danison, who also produced and edited the film, are Teton Valley residents. They answered a few questions about Nexus, which recently won the “Best Storytelling” award at the iF3 Festival. The showing starts at 7:30, and tickets can be purchased here.
Where did the idea for this film come from?
Shannon Corsi (SC): Nexus began in early conversations with friends, and eventually with Sophie and Katie [Lozancich], asking “Why are these films so rare?” I would watch ski films and see these incredible female skiers absolutely crushing, but their narratives were usually boiled down to “I’m a woman in the mountains.” That felt like such a disservice to me. There was no way they didn’t have cooler stories to tell, why weren’t they being told?
My background is in commercial photography and production, so I had quite a bit of tangential experience, but not much in the way of direct experience. Sophie really had the most knowledge about the nuances of film production, and working with her was wonderful. She crushed as the Director of Photography, and our storytelling vision really shines in her editing.
What was the process of making the movie like?
Sophie Danison (SD): Shannon had the original idea to make a new women’s ski film, noting the lack of such projects in recent years. Shannon, Katie Lozancich and I collaborated on development: how to create pairings of athletes, how to set up overall film creative, what story threads to pull on in each segment, where/when to shoot, etc. I’d say it was more of the “putting out endless fires” sort of vibe. We pitched it in fall 2020, made a teaser that spring/summer and then pitched again in fall 2021. I had worked on lots of films in various stages for about eight years and learned from my past film The Quiet Force what kind of endurance it takes to get from development to distribution. But a ski movie comes with so many extra moving parts and variables and opportunities for things to go wrong (including the worst winter on recent record…), so I felt like I knew just enough about each piece of the puzzle and I knew it was going to be really hard sometimes. Shannon’s ultra organization and experience with commercial photo shoots was a huge asset in making sure all of our sponsors were well represented on camera. Katie’s experience at Teton Gravity Research with shooting, producing and wearing lots of hats on various projects was really helpful as well.
SC: The process was like diving into the deep end: a project this huge is normally tackled by media houses with big teams. We had three of us, with the total experience of maybe one solid producer. I could write a whole essay on the process, but overall the strategy was huck and pray.
Why does this film stand out among the dozens of new ski films released every year?
SD: I think the film is special in terms of who’s represented and the way in which their stories are shared.
SC: The obvious answer would be that it’s an all-female film, but there’s been quite a few all-female projects released this year—which is incredible! Nexus is much more narrative-driven that a classic ski flick, and I think at the end of the day that’s what really shines about it.
How would you describe the current state of representation and diversity in ski media? How does this film impact that?
SD: I would hope Nexus is part of the progression towards more inclusivity and diversity. It’s not the “first” of anything, but, best case scenario, the way the athletes share their stories resonates with a larger audience and over time opens more doors for projects like it to get funded.
SC: In recent years, there’s been a ton of momentum toward better representation in the ski world. We’re a small piece of the puzzle and a part of that change.
What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in making this film?
SD: Well first, funding. Eventually we felt supported but it took almost two years and hours and hours of pitching and lots of no’s. Then, conditions! Aside from a couple good storms, Mother Nature did not agree with our plans. And although we were able to hit our budget minimum, we didn’t have extra cash to hang around in any of the locations longer than originally allotted. We scored in Alaska, which felt like a much-needed win. And then post! Post-production is, at least in my opinion, such a freaking grind. We had a relatively quick turnaround for an almost-feature length film with complex stories, plus the challenge of making a subpar winter look fun. We had some help setting up a good workflow, we were lucky to get our friend Justin Fann to edit the trailer, and then Charlotte Percle and I tackled the rest.
SC: I think each part of filmmaking had a solid set of challenges, but battling the worst snow year in decades was something else.
Tell me about the name: Nexus. What is the significance or larger meaning behind it? What about the tag line: One is not enough?
SD: One _______ in a ski film is not enough. Insert woman, person of color or any underrepresented person.
SC: Nexus means a “connection or series of connections linking two or more things.” We wanted to explore stories that were all distinct and captured the range of experiences these women had in the mountains. The thing tying it all together? Skiing.
The tag line was something added much later. In our trailer, you hear Michelle Parker talking about how she always heard it throughout her career “one woman is enough” for trips, films, etc. It was so powerful to hear her talk about the change in the industry, and how that doesn’t hold true anymore. It summed up the film so well it became the tag line.
How does it feel to have such a positive reaction from the audience, including winning an award?
SD: It feels good! We gave it a real big try-hard, and people like it, which is much better than giving it a real big try-hard and people hating it.
SC: The reaction to Nexus has been insane. I think we all knew it would generate quite a bit of hype, and we planned on working with a PR team, so we knew we would get some press. This, though? Unreal, far beyond our expectations.
How does it feel to be showing this to your hometown crowd, especially in a place that is such a hotbed for ski films?
SD: I can’t wait for the people who actually know Jane and Margo to see them on the screen. We really appreciate all the support from the Jackson community.
SC: So exciting! We have a bunch of Jackson-based filmers, so it will be a hometown showing for most of the crew, which is really special. People at every showing have loved Jane and Margo, so seeing their reaction to the film in person will be so cool.
Where else can people watch the film?
SD: It’s available on Arc’teryx’s YouTube channel Nov. 30.
SC: We have quite a few tour stops and are adding more by the day—our inboxes are slammed with screening requests.