Joel Osgood, a 1997 Freeport High School graduate who captained the school’s ski team, will be on hand at the Freeport Community Center on Tuesday, Feb. 23, for a showing of his documentary, “1000 Feet & Below,” about the state’s slowly disappearing smaller ski areas.

Osgood’s half-hour film will highlight the Cabin Fever Film Fest, part of Freeport FebFest and organized by Freeport Conservation Trust. The trust, which has conserved 1,500 acres of land since its conception in 1977, asks a $5 donation for the event, scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m.

In addition to Osgood, local filmmakers Randy Baker, Ben Leoni and Caiden Shea will be at the Cabin Fever Film Fest. Katrina Van Dusen, executive director of Freeport Conservation Trust, said that Baker, Leoni and Shea will be showing their short films.

“We were just trying to think of some winter event that would be fun for people,” Van Dusen said. “Last year we did a presentation on mushrooming. Anything to do with natural beauty is our thing.”

Van Dusen said she took note of “1000 Feet & Below” while reading a newspaper article. She then was able to connect with Osgood on the “1000 Feet & Below” Facebook page, and make arrangements with him to do the showing.

“I’m a skier,” Van Dusen said. “I love the winter and I love community organizations that run most of these little ski areas that he’s talking about.”

Osgood, who now lives in the tiny town of North New Portland, near Sugarloaf, has been skiing what he calls “hills” since he was a young child. When he lived in Freeport, he and his brother, Moksha, skied on ravines in their back yard, off Harvey Brook Drive.

“We cleared trails and skied out back,” Osgood said. “You only got a couple of turns, but you earned them.”

Ski team trips to small slopes such as Lost Valley in Auburn were common. Lost Valley, under new ownership, is one of the many small ski slopes that have struggled to stay open. Some haven’t been so fortunate.

“There are currently 14 hills under 1,000 vertical feet,” Osgood said, making reference to the name of his film. “In the 1960s, there were 130 hills in Maine with lifts. There are 18 larger slopes and 14 hills remaining. The movie basically goes over a history of why these hills went under.”

To make his production, Osgood visited the 14 existing small ski slopes and talked to people, exploring the challenges they face and how skiers can help them. His film contains both historical and modern-day footage.

Osgood said that most of the small slopes are nonprofit, run by cooperatives.

“They’re not in it to make money, that’s for sure,” he said. “Most of these slopes are struggling to make money. Some of that is the dwindling amount of skiers. There are a lot more things to do today. Then there’s the dwindling season, and warmer temps.”

Osgood, whose family now lives in Pownal, said that people who want to help the small slopes survive can engage with community members, and use the hills.

“When we gather together,” he said, “we come up with solutions.”

A 2001 graduate of Syracuse University, Osgood works as an electrician on sets for television commercials, corporate videos and web videos. He has lived in North New Portland for 10 years, and skis regularly.

He is a supporter of Special Olympics Maine. DVDs of “1000 Feet and Below” are available for purchase at the screenings or by going to Osgood’s fundraising page at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/joelosgood/snowball-tournament2016 and making a donation to Special Olympics Maine.

Joel Osgood, a 1997 graduate of Freeport High School, will be on hand for the showing of his film.


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