Carbondale filmmaker wins big at renowned Banff fest
CARBONDALE – The accolades have rolled in for Anson Fogel’s film “Cold” as often as snowstorms have hit the Elk Mountains already this fall. Still, the Carbondale filmmaker said he was floored recently when he and his team won the grand prize at the renowned Banff Mountain Film Festival.
“It was a pretty significant event for all of us – surprise, shock and joy,” said Fogel. “When they said I won, I thought I was dreaming or something.”
Fogel, 38, founded Forge Motion Pictures in 2007. He has a full studio in Carbondale, where he does all his work.
“Cold”, completed in April, is an unusual undertaking. Alpinist and photographer Cory Richards was hired by The North Face to take still photos and some video of a winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, a 26,362-foot peak in the Himalayas. Richards and his two colleagues made the first successful winter climb of the big mountain.
Richards shot video that makes you wonder how and why humans will push themselves to such lengths. When Richards talks on camera about his misery and doubts about making it down alive, you know it’s not the hype dished out on reality TV.
Richards edited dispatches for The North Face blog during the trip. Carbondale climber and 5Point Film Festival founder Julie Kennedy was aware of the three-man expedition and turned Fogel’s attention to it. He was immediately transfixed with the “raw, brutally honest” footage Richards captured and became eager to make a film from it. The fact that Richards wasn’t filming to make a film and that no director was on the scene to guide the process made it that much more intriguing.
“I’m always looking for nonconventional ways to tell stories,” Fogel said.
He contacted Richards while he was still overseas and eventually got a hard drive containing all the footage. Fogel plowed through the footage, wrote a treatment for the documentary (similar to a script for other types of films), then set about editing, working on sound design and color correction. Fogel estimates he put between 400 and 500 hours into the project.
Richards came to Carbondale five weeks before the film was finished and sat done with Fogel and his team. They interviewed him to make sure they had the correct feel to the film.
“We just spent a day-and-a-half drinking tequila,” Fogel said.
The 19-minute film was finished less than a week before it debuted at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, where it was well-received by the audience and won the “Spirit of Adventure” award. If ever a film was appropriately named, “Cold” is it. The film captures the mind-numbing physical and mental challenges faced by Richards and his two companions.
More top awards came at MountainFilm Telluride, New Zealand Mountain Film Festival and the Chamonix Adventure Film Festival.
Two weekends ago at Banff, the granddaddy of outdoor and adventure film fests, “Cold” won awards as the “Best Climbing Film” and a scholarship for audio post production as well as the grand prize.
Another Roaring Fork Valley filmmaker, Pete McBride of Basalt, won “Best Short Mountain Film” for “Chasing Water,” his intriguing look at the disturbing state of the Colorado River and all the demands on it. McBride was producer and director of the film. Fogel was part of his team.
Fogel was director and editor of “Cold.” Richards shot all the images and was the narrator. Kelly Cordes was the writer, and the producers were Fogel, Julie Kennedy and David Burden.
“Cold” was Fogel’s third film. Right now, his bread-and-butter work to pay the bills is commercials for clients such as Microsoft, Oakley sunglasses, Colorado Tourism Board, NBC, Versus and Getty. His goal is to get funding for a series of short films about the outdoors, lifestyle and sports. The recognition at Banff will capture attention and, hopefully, he said, produce funding for more films.
His exposure will only grow. The best films from Banff go on a world tour to 305 cities in 20 countries, exposing the work to an estimated 220,000 audience members.
That’s heady stuff for a kid who was born and lived the first few years of his life in the hills outside of Silt, then moved to the mountains of Wyoming. Fogel said he was turned on to films and literature at a young age by his parents. “They were sort of reclusive hippies who didn’t believe in TV,” he said.
He dabbled in filmmaking in one way or another for most of his life and realized at a young age he wanted to be a filmmaker.
“I remember seeing ‘Star Wars’ when I was 4,” he said. “It was basically the greatest thing for me.”
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Max Weintraub has been senior curator at the Aspen Art Museum since January 2019.