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Chalet Girl - Phil Traill interview

Chalet Girl

Interview by Rob Carnevale

PHIL Traill talks about some of the challenges and fun he had while filming British romantic snowboarding comedy Chalet Girl… as well as injuries to himself and Brooke Shields. He also talks about the casting of Felicity Jones.

Q. What appealed to you about directing Chalet Girl?
Phil Traill: Well, my friend Tom [Williams] wrote the script. He was at university with me. But as soon as he said the idea of it, I said: “I’m in!” And then when I read the script I was like: “Please be good! Please be good!” And then I got past the first page and that was good, so it was like: “Please stay good because I want to direct this so much.” And it was. I got to the end and said: “I am so in!”

Q. How did you come to cast Felicity Jones?
Phil Traill: Felicity got cast the minute she walked in. Honestly, it was the most insane audition. She just walked in and we’d been waiting for Kim to walk through the door and, literally, she walked in and we were like: “Oh brilliant! Done!” She was great, so that was easy.

Q. When looking for your cast, was it essential they could all ski?
Phil Traill: [Laughs] We cast almost entirely people who have never been to any type of snow before! Ed [Westwick] had. But especially for Felicity, she had to get good enough at snowboarding to not only walk around and carry a snowboard and look professional, but also there were scenes when she had to snowboard along and talk, or give Ed a lesson. So, she did brilliantly and threw herself in at the deep end and really went for it. But I was freaking out because she had to get that good for the film but not hurt herself in doing it. As it got nearer, I’d be like: “Yeah, go but don’t hurt yourself, but you’ve got to push yourself!”

Q. How was dealing with the snow and the altitude?
Phil Traill: We were lucky that we didn’t have to carry all the equipment around. It’s heavy stuff. It was interesting. The weather changes very fast up there, so that was the biggest thing. Every hour, it could go from sunshine to a snow storm and we’d all be freaking out. There’s a sort of love sequence in the film where they’re running around in the snow and we were shooting it hand-held. But then somebody came over and said: “You have to leave the mountain right now!” We asked for a couple more minutes, but they insisted on it being right now and man-handled us off the mountain because there was a lightning storm about to start on top of the mountain. There were clouds coming out of nowhere, which would have looked awesome!

Q. Was insurance a big issue?
Phil Traill: Well, it was an annoying issue for me because I wasn’t allowed to snowboard unless it was on a recky. So I did lots of them! It cost a lot. They kept on asking if the actors really would be doing it themselves, or if we could double everyone all the time. But Felicity hadn’t put in all those hours just to be doubled all the time, so we kind of paid up and then she did her stuff.

Q. What was the worst injury you saw on set?
Phil Traill: I was doing my EPK [electronic press kit] interview on the last day and I said: “Maybe, if you do an interview with me snowboarding, then I’ll be allowed to snowboard.” But I didn’t wear my helmet and started trying to show off, which for me involved trying to go backwards for about three yards. But I fell over and smashed my head and literally couldn’t move! The worst injury was one to Brooke Shields on a night out ten pin bowling. She’d had so many drinks that when she was trying to bowl the bowling ball she flung it into her knee. But it was only the next morning that she realised how hurt she was and she flew back and went straight to the hospital from the airport! I shouldn’t laugh, should I?

Actually, we had the Roxy Female Snowboarding Team, who had all come over after the Olympics… they came and did our stunts for us, which was amazing. But they all seemed to hurt themselves. The girl who was going to do our big jump – this massive, 900 degree spinning jump – sprained her ankle the day before, so we had to try and find someone else to do it. They actually found a 12-year-old boy. He was hanging around the slopes and they were like: “Do you want to wear a wig? And do that jump?” This little boy was looking at me as if I was talking a foreign language… I mean, I was and my questions had to be translated into German. But he was like: “Yuh!” And he did it and he was brilliant.

Read our interview with Ed Westwick