One of the greatest benefits of working in the film and television industry is getting to spend time with so many interesting people.There are the famous ones, of course – the actors, athletes, rock stars, CEOs. But it’s often the not-so-famous that end up being the most interesting. These are the ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. And it turns out they are not so ordinary after all.
This was the case on the day we met 21-year old skier Arly Velásquez. Zumi Hidalgo and I were up at the Winter Park Ski Resort, working with ESPN International producer Ursula Pfeiffer on a feature story about Arly’s journey to the Paralympics in Vancouver.
Like many shoots, as the day unfolds you truly get to know someone. Their character spools out to you in pieces as you work with them. You enter their world, but in an odd sort of way - a scene here, a shot there. Perhaps an interview where it all comes together.
We followed Arly around in the snow that day as he went from his wheelchair to his mono-ski, to the lift, and to the mountain side - carving perfect turns between the gates. He did all this training with an infectious smile, and great attitude - even when we asked him to do things again and again, as we tend to do in this business.
But it wasn’t until the interview that we learned his story.
It turns out this particular journey began when Arly was thirteen. He was a competitive downhill mountain biker Mexico City. He had a bad crash that broke his back, and took away the use of the lower half of his body.
After years of physical therapy, encouragement from his mother, and his own determination, he continued his quest to excel as an athlete. He tried several adaptive sports, and ultimately landed on alpine mono-skiing. It gave him the speed he needed, along with the thrill and control. The mono-ski became his vehicle. He learned, and trained, and traveled the world perfecting the art of defying gravity on a slippery slope.
And now Arly’s journey continues as he competes in the 2010 Paralymics in Vancouver, representing his home country of Mexico. And so does ours - as we glide from story to story, meeting new and interesting people, dipping in and out of lives, and sharing their journeys with others.
But I can tell you this, Arly’s is one journey we will never forget.
This Article first appeared in the March 2010 issue of Big Pictures News. Written by Tom Miller, Copyright 2010, Big Pictures Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved