“Lady B’s First Winter” is scheduled to screen at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday May 26th at High Camp and Monday May 28th at the Michael D. Palm Theater as part of the Kidz Kino beginning at 11a.m.
But, sometimes, MountainFilm reminds us we don’t have to look so far to tell an inspiring story. Sometimes, instead of sharing the world with Telluride, a critical part of MountainFilm is sharing a piece of Telluride with the world.
This year, Scott Ransom’s film Lady B’s First Winter: A Journal of An Avalanche Dog will do just that. The story follows the training of local avy dog Lady B and is as local as it gets.
Ransom, a 35-year resident of Telluride began his film career as a producer with ABC in New York. He eventually specialized in cinematography, enabling him to base himself out of Telluride. He has worked on everything from the eclectic to the mainstream including the feature documentary The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition that played at MountainFilm in 2000 and was nominated for a British Academy Award; 35 segments of National Geographic Explorer as well as segments of National Geographic Specials; CBS, ABC and NBC news programs; and blockbusters such as Batman and Robin, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Power Rangers II.
As a cameraman, Ransom explained, he is usually behind the scenes, shooting someone else’s story.
“I work for other people,” Ransom said. “I go out and someone tells me what to shoot.”
Through his work for “other people”, (aka esteemed media outlets such as National Geographic and Animal Planet), over the years Ransom has had frequent opportunities to work with the ski patrol and shooting avalanches and dogs.
“I’ve become very good friends with the older ski patrollers, “Ransom said, “and, especially with the dogs.”
In 2010, Ransom heard that veteran ski patrollers, Kim and Gary Richard were getting a Labrador puppy with the intent to train it as an avalanche dog (the third in a distinguished line of avalanche dogs they have trained). Ransom immediately wanted to film it.
“I thought I can’t pass this up,” Ransom said. “I’m not sure what will happen, where it will go, why I’m doing it, except that it’s an incredibly cool idea to follow Lady B as a puppy.”
The end result – a story that Ransom not only got to shoot, but one he finally got to tell. According to Ransom, Lady B is a fun film that follows Lady B’s training from her first days in Town Park, to her first chair ride, snowmobile ride and helicopter ride as well as her journey in learning to find avalanche victims buried deep under slide debris.
“I hung out three or four days a week in one of the patrol shacks,” Ransom said. “When something happened with the dogs—I was right there.”
Although Lady B is the film’s star, Ransom explained that all of the Telluride avy dogs are in the film including former patrolman and current avalanche forecaster Matt Steen’s golden retriever, Callie; patrolman Eric Aura’s dog, Wylie; ski patrol supervisor, Jason Rogers’ big chocolate lab Doris; Telluride coroner, Chief EMT and patrolman, Emil Sante’s one-eyed malamute, Bajuko; and patrolman Jim Green’s veteran golden retriever, Jesse.
Lady B is about is local as it gets when it comes to MountainFilm, and Ransom is excited to show a little piece of Telluride to the festival’s audience.
“It’s cool that MountainFilm still shows homegrown movies about the people who live here,” Ransom said. “I’m happy about the notion that the film doesn’t have to have a world of importance; it’s enough that it’s about us – a simple story about our friends and our dogs.”
It will serve as a welcome break, Ransom noted, between the festival’s often heavier documentaries that address timely, poignant topics and deliver serious messages about the environment , social justice, global warming or overpopulation.
“The message is you’re going to have a good time watching this movie,” Ransom said, “because it’s about a puppy.”