In February/March 1946 numerous scenes for ‘The Fugitive’, by Robert Bibal, were shot here in les Contamines. The cast included a number of post-war movie stars such as Madeleine Robinson and René Dary. ‘Tout Schuss’, created and directed by F.Prevot-Leygonie and S. Archinard, is due to be released in 2016 starring Alexia Barlier, Anne Girouard and José Garcia! Alongside the lead actors, a dozen teenagers interpret students on a school trip whose stay is disturbed by the relationship between Max (José Garcia), a somewhat self-centered and cynical father, and Rosalie, his teenage daughter…
Fond of Les Contamines, the film producer Marc Etienne Schwartz chose to film no less than a hundred scenes in resort between 24th March and 30th April 2015, at the holiday centre in Loyers and across the ski area.
To do this, a 50 man technical team was assisted throughout the 5 week period by a team of locals. The lift operators and ski patrol worked from dawn until dusk in order to ensure the transport of people and technical equipment to and from the different filming locations (Etape, Signal, Bûche Croisée, Roselette). They were also responsible for the security of actors, extras, understudies and even animals!
Having enjoyed the opportunity to attend the filming of some scenes, I decided to give you a preview:
Sylviane Lefèvre (Webzine ambassador), played a minor role on 2 days.
Stéphane Bibollet (known for his delicious savory beignets and other specialties at the Auberge de Barattet), played José García’s double.
Dominique and Bruno Stritmatter (with 20 years experience as mushers) were, according to the technical team, as good as the pros in their role as “animal tamers”!
Michel: How were you able to join the team ?
Sylviane: 2 months prior to filming I received several proposals via the Tourist Office and the ESF French Ski School in Les Contamines. At first I didn’t pay much attention but, at the insistence of my daughters, I finally accepted the challenge!
Stephane: The casting director was looking for a double for José Garcia. Gaëlle, secretary at the local ski club, thinks I look like the actor and sent in my details. I was asked to do a photo session which proved successful!
Dominique: Our Polar Dog park is located opposite the ‘Ferme de la Gorge’ where the film crew came to shoot some indoor scenes. We were contacted to participate (with our dogs) in certain sequences.
Michel: How much time did you spend on the film set?
Sylviane: 2 consecutive days in a minor role
Stephane: 7 days in total as a double for José Garcia!
Dominique: 4 days with 5 dogs!
Michel: What kind of scenes where you involved in?
Sylviane: Après-ski scenes at the foot of the slopes and boarding the chairlift. These scenes were all filmed on the Montjoie slope.
Stephane: Mostly ski scenes in pursuit and some action scenes involving spectacular falls. They all took place on the Montjoie slope and in the forest. Without revealing too much of the scenario, there were also some scenes in disguise !
Dominique: We chose 5 of our dogs among the 24 in our pack. This selection depended on specific criteria including the colour of their coat and their ability to perform on command. They participated in Skijoring scenes (pulling young actors), fast action scenes with one of the actresses driving the pack with our help and a rather burlesque scene to be discovered on release of the film! Our filming locations included the Ferme de la Gorge, the cross-country ski area and the bottom of the Montjoie slope.
Michel: How do you feel about this experience?
Sylviane: It was a fun and rewarding adventure in a warm and friendly atmosphere. There’s more to tell in a future article!
Stéphane: I will treasure the extreme kindness of the team as well as the simplicity of José Garcia. I was greatly impressed with the effort made by each professional as well as the complicated logistics! Despite a challenging start to the filming, I got into the swing of things and gave them my best!
Dominique: There was a great atmosphere and every member of the team, from cook to producer, prop staff to actors, proved particularly patient, attentive and respectful. My thanks too to the staff on the ski lifts who had the delicate attention to completely stop the gondola to allow our dogs to climb aboard without any extra stress!
Final curtain: Through these three accounts and my own observations, I would like to stress the importance of team work which doesn’t necessarily transpire when we watch a movie. If, at first, the number of people present on a set seemed disproportionate, one quickly understands the role and the importance of each and every one of them. The notion of time can also escape us: a one minute sequence on the screen can require almost a half-day of filming!
Come and join us in 2016 for a sneak preview showing in Les Contamines. This film will definitely be an ideal Ambassador for our resort!
Good luck TOUT SCHUSS !!!
Links and acknowledgements: the production team; Gerald Mattel for hisphotos; En Coutere n ° 29. The Polar dog park; the Maison de la Gorge; Vacances et Montagne, the ski patrol and the SECMH ski lift company.