The North Face has just released its new documentary, ‘Beyond the Summit’. Spotlighting two-time World Freeskiing Champion Kit DesLauriers and her research to defend the Arctic, the inspirational film was directed by Great Guns Ballistic director Natasha Mynhier through her production house 37 Laines.
The documentary follows Kit DesLauriers, the first person to ski down all of “the Seven Summits”: the highest mountains in each continent. Seeking a way to use her skills to contribute to the greater good, she teams up with her fellow skiers and specialised film crew to embark upon a special project protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - one of the most pristine wilderness areas on the planet - from exploitation in the interests of oil and gas.
Having met through another project, Kit invited director Natasha Mynhier to her research trip to the Arctic, explaining the dangers facing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, her work on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League, and her desire to return to collect data. Honoured to be considered, Natasha signed onto the project immediately and began the yearlong sprint to create the film.
Through the film, Natasha wanted to capture an accurate representation of the adventurous life Kit leads, so she sought out footage from old sports coverage, interviews, and recordings from Kit’s expeditions. Covering a range of mediums, the medley provides a visual way of conveying the breadth of Kit’s efforts, and the notion that she has been at it for decades.
The team had originally hoped for Natasha to go into the field via dog mushing, while following the story of Jody Potts Joseph, a Han Gwich'in woman and a good friend of Kit's. However, a series of challenges changed the course of the documentary, and prevented Natasha’s ability to enter the field in this way. Instead, she remained in Fairbanks interviewing scientists while the athletes went out into the Arctic. Thankfully, three of Natasha’s collaborators were able to go out alongside the athletes: Nate Luebbe, who directed in the field, DP Mark Fisher, and camera operator Nate Dodge. Rising to the physical demands of the project, they performed every stunt with the athletes - all while operating camera equipment.
Natasha Mynhier comments: “Every moment spent with Kit was a huge learning experience for me - being one of the most exceptional and passionate women I've ever met, she’s the kind woman I aspire to be like. Interviewing Dr. Peter Winsor also blew me away: he’s the executive director of Alaska Wilderness League and his background as an athlete himself, an oceanographer, an activist, and a leader give him incredible perspective. I worry a lot about climate change, as we all do, but that conversation changed my understanding of the possible solutions. I am eager to do what I can now to support some of the incredible initiatives I learned about from him.”
She adds: “I thought I was reasonably in shape… then I met Kit, Sophia Schwartz, Jim Morrison, and Sarah Carpenter. Let's just say I have been going to the gym a lot lately.”