Q & A with FREEZE TV

Did you know that Wanaka has its very own winter action sports television series? For our Spring issue, the On girls caught up with film maker Anthony Hansen from FREEZE TV.

Man with a camera: Anthony Hansen

We love your work! Did you train or learn on the job?

I started immediately out of school working in commercial photography studios, firstly printing in dark rooms with very large film, and then started shooting stills. I got to work with some incredible New Zealand photographers like Brian Brake. I got my first break in moving pictures in 1988 as a skydiving cameraman. The equipment was awkward, large and heavy, and not designed to mount to your head at 200 plus kph.

What’s you background in winter sports?

I went on a ski holiday at Mt Ruapehu in 1989 and meet a crazy Australian called Video Bill on the Sunday. He gave me a job on the Monday. I went back and threw in my notice in the studio I was working in, then headed down to the big volcano to spend my first season. I was a very average skier, but was keen to learn as much as possible about making movies on snow.

After finishing the season at Mt Ruapehu, the ski school director from Coronet Peak, Eddie Young, who I’d meet filming. said I should head to Queenstown as nobody was doing anything like I was filming. It tied in nicely with a job offer from New Zealand’s first seven-day-a-week Tandem Skydive operation, who offered me a job as a skydiving cameraman . I was the first professional skydiving cameraman in New Zealand. Summers skydiving washed down with winters skiing–33 winter seasons later and I’m getting the hang of it.

When did you start Freeze TV? We understand that initially it was shown at Shooters Bar in Wanaka.

I started FREEZE in Wanaka in 2002 as a bar show in the brand new Shooters Bar. I had previously been filming at Treble Cone for a couple of winters, making videos for people to take home, as well as playing my content in bars (mainly Paddy’s and Barrows) a couple of times a week.
I thought I would try and make something more formatted each week of 45-60 minutes to see if it suited TV. It was a great success, showing off Wanaka and our mountains firstly to an audience in the South Island on regional television in Dunedin (Channel 9), Invercargill (MTV), as well as Christchurch (CTV). Then I got a call from Sky Sports saying they were interested in broadcasting the series. That was the start. I have now filmed and produced over 150 TV episodes of FREEZE that have been broadcast around the globe, which is incredible. Ten years is a long time in action sports. I have filmed kids ripping who later became Olympic or X Games medallists. The cycle continues.

Tell us a little bit about Freeze TV. It seems like it has grown a lot since the early days.

FREEZE is a celebration of snow sports with a Kiwi angle. For sure the show started in Wanaka, but it has covered events around the globe like the World Super Pipe Champs in the US, the European, Australian and NZ Snowboard Opens, the Winter Olympic Games, as well as the Freeride World Tour and many other events. It’s been cool to see athletes and locations grow also.
The show hasn’t just been about the super stars, but also displays the skills and passions of people out there giving it a go for the first time. FREEZE has profiled ice climbing, dog sledding, snow kitting, snowmobiling, how to squish into ski boots, as well as what to look for when buying your first snowboard. The wonderful thing about Wanaka is that so many interesting people turn up here from all corners of the world with many skills and stories to share. It’s amazing to be able to tell their stories visually.

Has the explosion in online video been helpful to you?

Online video is something I’ve been doing since 1998. It used to be really hard to convince people that it was OK to watch the videos we’d made on a PC.
It wasn’t until YouTube and broadband hit the scene in 2005 that people started accepting their computer as a viable place to watch content. There are only so many cats flushing the toilet that you can handle.

Now the viewer is more in tune with the quality of content that is available and there is more genre tailored channels online that deliver consistently good content. The GOPRO or POV camera craze is interesting, but how much wobble cam do you want to watch. It comes down to telling good stories. The cool thing about the Internet is you can reach a massive niche audience that wants your content.

What’s your favourite episode?

The best ones are still to come.

Warren Miller or Matchstick Productions?

Respect to Warren Miller for getting snow sports into the mainstream. I used to watch his movies and they made me want to travel. Never in my wildest dreams when I was young would I have thought I’d be making winter and action sports television and movies. It’s mad how’s it’s happened, but it has been a wonderful ride!!  Warren’s legacy continues constantly revealing passionate people around the world taking it to the next level.

Rumour has it that On Magazine Editor Annabel Wilson was one of your early presenters. How did she go? Is her future in television or is it best that she stick to her day job?

Annabel was my first ever presenter back in 2002; such incredible enthusiasm and passion for the mountains and story telling. We crossed paths again in 2006 when I was filming in Chamonix prior to the Winter Olympics, and Annabel was an amazing host in the plush five-star chalet I was lucky enough to stay in. Annabel cooks a mean breakfast!

Want your FREEZE TV?

Watch it here!


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