Still from Jack Price's winning film Pushing the Boundaries. 

Image: Jack Price

To raise the stoke for the upcoming 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski World Championships (Feb. 1-10) U.S. Ski & Snowboard partnered with the Park City Film Series and Park City Summit County Arts Council to sponsor the youth filmmaking contest. Open to filmmakers 21 and under, the entrants were asked to base their short films on the concept of "breaking boundaries," a prevalent theme in the world of elite athletes.  After months of deliberation, the winners were announced this week. Jack Price (Bozeman, Mont.) took first place with his documentary-style Pushing the Boundaries and Aubrie Walker (Park City, UT) was named runner-up with her poignant drama Despondent. 

"Although this contest was launched in celebration and in anticipation of the 2019 FIS World Champs, the stories didn't necessarily have to be sport related. Both films told a breaking-boundaries story in very different ways," says Jocelyn Scudder of PCSC Arts. "Jack's film focused on his challenges as a competitive freeskier, such as overcoming injury setbacks and learning to always get back up after falling. Aubrie's film interpreted the theme very differently, focusing on depression and self-confidence issues. Both films nailed the theme of breaking boundaries, and it is refreshing to see such a diverse set of storylines come out of the contest." Showcasing diversity and connecting the community was one of the major goals of the contest; the organizations involved felt that film could serve as a powerful platform to spark conversation and celebrate art, community, and sport on multiple levels. 

As the winner of the contest, Price will receive a $2,500 reward and the chance to work with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s content department during the 2019 World Champs to capture behind the scenes stories during the event. Walker takes home a $500 cash prize and two VIP tickets for up to four events at the championships. 

Pushing the Boundaries, by Jack Price

Price, whose passion for film began with his first ski edit at age 13, only found out about the Breaking Boundaries contest a few weeks before the submission deadline, thanks to the family of his friend Rodney Koford, a.k.a. AK (one of the subjects the film). For the contest, Price left the familiar ski edit territory to film his first narrative documentary.

Much of the 30 hours devoted to the project were spent in the editing room, sifting through clips and stringing together interviews. Although handling audio (a totally new experience for Price) turned out to be quite difficult, filming the interviews with AK (Koford) proved to be one of his favorite parts about the whole process. "Having AK come up to my place and film the interviews really got me excited for the final product," says Price. "That energy carried through this whole project and it really paid off because it kept me driven." He also quite enjoyed putting together the sections of the film focused on crashing and the feelings he and AK get from being up on the hill skiing. 

One of the best parts of winning the contest, of course, is the opportunity to work with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard content department. "I am super pumped to join the US team for the World Championships," says Price. "I lived in Park City last winter and I love the town so much. I am looking forward to absorbing everything I can possibly learn and just working with a professional crew for the first time." For Price, who is planning on studying filmmaking in Montana, winning also came with a boost of confidence-- knowing that he has something worth sharing. He is primarily interested in contemporary narrative and action films. 

Price's film will hit the big screen during the 13th Annual Filmmakers Showcase (Nov. 8) put on by the Park City Film Series. 

Despondent, by Aubrie Walker

Instead of trying to create a story about skiing or snowboarding, Walker took a completely different approach to the theme of breaking boundaries. Her film focuses on depression, suicide, and loneliness. "Through the film I was able to tell a very personal story that I was strongly connected to," says Walker. "It's something that has changed my own life and my friends."

Interestingly, Despondent was actually conceived long before the film contest. Walker spent close to a year and a half writing the script and then enlisted her friends to help bring it to life. It took another month for filming and editing, which had to be scheduled around everyone's school and extracurricular schedules. They also had to deal with the leading actress dropping out right before shooting, which meant Walker had to take on the part herself. 

For Walker, Despondent became much more than just a fun project to work on with friends; it set her up for where she is today, studying film full time at the University of Utah. "This was the first project of this size I worked on and I love the community making a film creates," says Walker. "You have to be so close to each other to make a good team." Her greatest passion lies in script writing and she's eager to tell stories that inspire her and others. And as you might expect from anyone who grew up in Park City, Walker is hoping she'll eventually find herself back here at Sundance with her own project. 

As of now, there's no public screening planned for Despondent, but you can watch it online on Vimeo. 

Congratulations to both the winners! Now, check out those films.

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