Ski film director relives the pain of Mt Cook mission

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An epic journey into Mt Cook with nine skiers is the hardest job filmmaker Tim Pierce has done. 

And he wouldn’t change a thing. 

The Wanaka cinematographer spent four days braving sub-zero temperatures and hiking out of glaciers to achieve perfect shots for his short film The Whole Nine Yards, which screens in Queenstown on Sunday. 

Pierce, 24, was approached by clothing brand The North Face to shoot adventurous freeskiers, including Queenstowner Mitchey Greig, chasing the perfect lines for the 10-minute flick last year. 

Pierce captures masterful scenic shots and incredible action sequences of the courageous group – but it was a painstaking mission for the Wanaka man, he reveals. 

“We had to do everything the athletes were doing. Both Mark Watson, the photographer, and I are snowboarders and the rest of them were skiing – which is significantly easier when they skin out to the top of a pass when we’re snow-shoeing. And of course for me to get a good shot, I’d have to hike with my gear first to get in the right position.” 

Pierce recalls carrying at least 33kg of camera and sound equipment plus camping gear for four days. The group went night skiing, slept in a tent and even crossed rivers barefoot. 

“It was one of the most physical things I’ve ever done. There were quite a few moments when it got intensely painful. 

“It was freaken mind-blowing and at the time you do question whether it’s worth it. But it definitely was, now that the film is finished.” 

The Whole Nine Yards recently won the award for best New Zealand-made flick at the NZ Mountain Film Festival. 

“I was stoked on that, it was pretty cool,” he says. 

The film screens as part of the Winter Games’ Adventure Film Festival at the Memorial Hall, at 2pm on Sunday.