Snow and Avalanche Center 2007 Avalanche News

2 Salt Lake City teens make avalanche film

By Lynn Arave, Deseret Morning News

Many teenagers have dreams of starring in or producing a major Hollywood movie. However, two Salt Lake City high school students worked for almost a year to produce a serious public service film about avalanche safety.

Jesse Dean and Christopher Everest, both age 17, seniors at Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School, 843 S. Lincoln, recently created "After School Special" to raise awareness and safety about backcountry snow dangers. They financed, filmed and did the production themselves.

The 25-minute film includes both skiing and avalanche footage taken in Utah's mountains.

"We're just trying to send a message ... to kids our age, to get educated about avalanches.

An average of four people are killed by avalanches each winter season. Only Alaska and Colorado have more deaths by avalanches in the United States than Utah.

"All of them are preventable," Bruce Tremper, avalanche specialist with the U.S. Forest Service's Utah Avalanche Center, told the Deseret Morning News earlier this spring.

The film is geared toward reaching a teenage audience. It also makes it clear that the vast majority of all avalanche victims are caught in the backcountry, not ski resorts, where regular avalanche control is conducted.

Will their production save lives?

"We had some fairly serious interviews and powerful avalanche shots (in the film)," Dean said. "I do think it worked."

Since the young men don't have all the rights to the music in the film, they can't market or sell it. However, Dean said there's a chance that the Utah Avalanche Center may use it during presentations to young audiences.

Dean said the variable nature of snow made this a hard film to produce, compounded by the fact that they had no previous experience in creating a movie.

Both Dean and Everest are avid skiers.

A neighbor of the boys was killed in an avalanche about a decade ago and that made their project all the more relevant.

Everest said reaction to the film was very positive and some who watch it noted the production was both educational and entertaining.

"It opened my eyes to the dangers of avalanches," Everest said.

The two young men spent hundreds of hours working on the film after starting it last July, though most of the work was done from October on.

Dean is leaning toward a business career in college, while Everest favors engineering.

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