Feature-length film about California drought focuses on Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Feature-length film about California drought focuses on Lake Tahoe

Autumn Whitney
awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com

Drought. The word makes many Tahoe locals cringe — it's something that has heavily impacted the Basin's economy in recent years; but Alex Gregory and Anurag Kumar, both 24, are the first to make a feature-length movie about it.

The pair's newest project, entitled "Dry Times," is a story about the California drought and its direct effect on skiers and the local economy in Lake Tahoe.

"I was living in Tahoe at the time and knew this was a big issue. I moved to Tahoe in the 2014-15 winter, which was one of the worst Tahoe has ever seen. At Heavenly it only snowed a few times," Gregory said. "I noticed how it affected people in the area and thought this would be a good story to tell about Tahoe and how not getting snow in the area affects the economy."

The two-person production focuses on multiple business owners around the lake and how they adapted to the drought.

Featured are South Shore's Rock House Ski & Snowboard Rental and Verde Mexican Rotisserie in Meyers, in addition to North, East and West Shore companies.

But the film does not focus solely on local businesses — Gregory and Kumar also interviewed local skiers about their adaptation to low snow levels.

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"It's a hybrid between a ski movie and a documentary," Gregory said.

While a large portion of the film focuses on the drought's effect on Lake Tahoe, it's the partners' goal that the film alerts people to California's drought situation as a whole.

"We're hoping that first and foremost it just raises awareness," Kumar added.

Fifteen to 20 percent will focus on the broader scope of the drought according to Gregory.

"Right now in Southern California, there's been a big wildfire problem throughout the summer. We're interviewing a firefighter and maybe another scientist in this area specifically, and we'd be incorporating that into the movie as well," he explained.

The two also spoke with meteorologists, and intend for part of the film to center on weather trends.

"In years to come this might be a common theme. Not getting a lot of snow might be common 20 years from now," Gregory said.

Childhood friends Gregory and Kumar currently reside in Los Angeles and had to manage time wisely in order to create the movie. They began the filmmaking process in October 2015 and worked their way around Tahoe, talking with local businesses and athletes.

"We both have jobs. We're both normal people trying to get into filmmaking, so time management is a huge skill we're both learning. (Gregory) has to get b-roll shots. All of our free time is pretty much going toward our project, and we have to be really strategic about it. Is it worth it to drive eight hours from L.A. to Tahoe to do something I can do remotely?" Kumar said.

The two are the only people involved in the film's production. Gregory's focus is on interviews and capturing footage, while Kumar handles the project's business side. His tasks include contacting organizations, managing marketing efforts and focusing on the non-shooting aspects of production. The partners work on general production items together.

"We're independent filmmakers — we have no crazy experience. This is our first feature length documentary, and we're doing it at the highest level of professionalism. Lake Tahoe is a naturally beautiful place. We don't need to pay for a huge crew of people to set up lights, things you would generally need in a feature length production," Kumar said.

Gregory and Kumar have teamed up on personal projects in the past, but nothing close to this magnitude. When finished, the film will be a full-length feature, ranging from one to one-and-a-half hours. The duo is currently finishing the filming process and putting final touches on the trailer, which will release in approximately two weeks.

The film itself is due out in January 2017. No venue is yet scheduled to premier the movie.

"That's one thing we're trying to figure out in the process of promoting it. We're talking to some vendors who might be interested in playing it and looking into film festivals.

"Our target audience is the ski town realm. We'd really like to push playing it at all the ski towns around the country," Gregory said.

Learn more

Gregory and Kumar will be launching the official “Dry Times” website, http://www.dry-times.com, on the same day they premier the trailer. The site will be live in roughly two weeks, offering additional information about the film.