The Search for the Big One Tour, presented by Chispa House, will bring a collection of short films to Ketchum for one night only on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Hotel Ketchum.
Chispa House is a video production company based in Athens, Ga., that primarily generates promotional material and corporate films for various organizations around the world. The group does not merely settle into a rut of commercial production, however, as demonstrated by the four short films that make up the Search for the Big One.
Each film zeroes in on an intimate story about humanity, nature and strength. In the course of four weeks, the Chispa House film crew traveled more than 5,700 miles, shot all four movies and experienced the full gamut of Western United States weather, from subzero mountain temperatures in central Idaho to balmy, sunny days in Southern California.
Of the four, one bears particular relevance to the residents of the Wood River Valley. “Ruby Dog” follows the eponymous avalanche rescue canine and her owner, Pat McCormick, a local backcountry ski guide and avalanche search and rescue dog handler for Sun Valley Heli Ski.
During the course of a week, the film crew shadowed McCormick and Ruby in the wintry backcountry, examining the incredible, synchronized relationship between a man and his dog.
McCormick will be present for the Wednesday screening and will remain afterward for a question-and-answer discussion session with the audience. During that time he will shed light on the film and his experiences braving deadly conditions in the area’s daunting mountain ranges.
The second film in the lineup, “Family Powers,” focuses on alpinist Phil Powers, who in 2011 broke his back after falling 70 feet while climbing. The short film examines both his dedication to alpinism despite setbacks and the unending support he received from his family, who share his love for climbing.
In “Protect Our Water,” the team journeys to Southern California to study how surfers from different backgrounds unite for the shared mission of saving and protecting the ocean that provides the means for their greatest passion.
The first three films share the stories of others, but for the fourth, the Chispa team looked inward. Producer Ariel Levy and her 1-year-old son, River, are the subjects of “Tough As a Mother.”
A climber, adventurer and thrill-seeker, Levy initially assumed those activities would have to cease upon River’s birth, but “Tough As a Mother” chronicles the ways in which she has kept the adventure alive, all with a remarkably intrepid baby along for the ride.
As Chispa team member Lisa Schueneman put it, “She’s a badass mom who rock climbs. She wanted to make sure that becoming a mom didn’t make her give up her own passions so that down the line she could share them and her adventures with her children.”
Ultimately, that sentiment gets to the heart of what this group of filmmakers wants to do. “Chispa” means “spark” in Spanish, and that’s what they hope to ignite in clients, viewers and any folks they happen to meet on the road.
All proceeds from the screening will be donated to local charities, with half going to Protect Our Winters and half benefiting the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.
The screening with Pat McCormick will begin at 7 p.m. at Hotel Ketchum, 600 N. Main St., Ketchum, on Wednesday, Sept. 18. Each film is about 15 minutes long.
“We really hope to keep doing this kind of thing,” Schueneman said. “We work a lot with brands and companies, but our main goal is to inspire chispa in everyone.”