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Q&A: Heather Mosher

Heather Mosher directed 2021 WMFF feature “Ocean to Asgard.” A film about four friends who travel to Baffin Island for a forty day human-powered adventure, featuring big-wall first ascents, whitewater paddle descents, and wild Arctic flamingos. We asked her a few questions, see our Q&A conversation below:

What is in your gear bag/kit?

Right now, it’s a mirrorless camera (Panasonic GH5) and an assortment of microphones. I love being super nimble when I shoot documentary work, and the Panasonic GH5 has been a fantastic camera for moving fast and light. I’m also really interested in capturing cinema verite as well as possible, so I have a small selection of wireless lav mics and PDRs that I can use to mic up the subjects and capture great audio with a small team.

What item can you not live without?

SNACKS! I always look forward to the treats I get on long days in the mountains – I often pack a hummus wrap, or a baggie of snacks with cheese, dried sausage, candy, dried mango or other fruit, chocolates, maybe some almonds, etc. There aren’t a lot of snacks I’d say no to.

How do you choose music for your films?

I love looking for tracks that are not quite what the audience is going to expect for that genre or that scene. I’ve picked big band tracks for big wall alpine climbing and funk for an approach scene. I also love to work in folk music, and use Canadian artists as much as I can. A lot of my music so far has come from inexpensive licensing sites, just for budget reasons, but I’m starting to get to work with composers, which is really exciting!

Most necessary character-quality for a director?

I think everyone is going to do the job differently – there’s no one right answer. I think someone who is really collaborative and empathetic is going to get great results – creating a strong team dynamic means that your crew is going to be engaged and bringing their whole skill set to the table. Having a good vibe with the crew also makes the subjects of your film more comfortable!

Who has been most influential in your directing career?

I’ve really appreciated watching the careers of other women in adventure film, which makes me appreciate the importance of representation. When I see women producing and directing, or on stage at mountain film festivals accepting awards for their work, it makes me think that maybe I could do that too.

Favorite on-set memory?

Sometimes it’s just having fun with a great crew of people! Last week I was shooting an ad, and for that shoot it didn’t make sense to trek a big slider into the woods. We got to get creative with gear: we had a sled, and skis, so we could put someone (me!) in a sled with a camera and then push the sled down a hill for a tracking shot – we did that with skis too, I operated the camera and the DP was running along pushing me for a remarkably smooth tracking shot (#shittyrigs). It’s so much fun to collaborate with a great crew of people and get creative.

Craziest on-set/en route to set adventure?

Last winter I was filming an ice climbing mission in the Canadian Rockies – we were coming out of a stretch of -35 Celsius temps, and the location was 8 hours round trip: 4 hours of driving and 20 km on foot or skis, and all during the shortest days of the year. We only had around 8 hours of daylight. It was a mission.

More About Heather Mosher

Heather Mosher is a documentary filmmaker based in Squamish, BC.