With the trend in ski movies to go into commercial distribution (meaning on DVD and iTunes) later in the same year that shooting completed, one has to question the place of a ski movie that does not make it to commercial distribution until a full year after it played in the movie theatres. To most ski movie aficionados, such a film is going to be old news. With the majority of ski movies these days, a big chunk of their appeal is to show the latest and greatest skiers and tricks leading into the upcoming winter season and thereby progressing the sport in big steps. Any movie that does not get into as wide a distribution as possible before the season starts is going to be viewed as a “fail”.
The Warren Miller franchise is the oldest of all ski movie production companies out there and their modus operandi has always been to tour the film in the autumn of the year that shooting finished but not to release it on DVD or elsewhere until the following year. So, if you miss the film on the one night that it might play in your city, you’re out of luck until 12 months later. Maybe that’s a smart strategy to avoid the pirating of the film on some bit torrent site and therefore make the ducats needed to recoup production costs but it puts the relevance of the film and the brand at risk.
Wintervention, the 2010 Warren Miller Entertainment movie, sidesteps some of these problems by not trying to do what all the other ski movie production companies have ably got covered. They don’t focus on the latest red-hot superstars and they don’t set out to document the latest in ski trick progression. You’ll have to watch a Matchstick, or a Level 1 or a Stept Productions film if you want that. What Wintervention is out to convey (in fact, what very Warren Miller movie is out to convey) is the pure joy of skiing. So what if there’s only a smattering of rodeo 9s. They have experts like Chris Davenport and Andrew McLean take you on a virtual ski adventure somewhere white and cold and then simply let the exhilaration pour out in the ensuing shots. For a lot of skiers the Warren Miller movies do a great job as the catalyst for the “Winter Starts Now” mindset because they get your average ski head stoked for the months ahead.
Warren Miller adventures usually take the shape of something out of a National Geographic or a BBC documentary with trips to the far reaches of the planet with all the breathtaking snowy mountain vistas you’d expect. Wintervention’s literal globe-trotting has it all, starting with a trip to Antarctica and ending in Norway’s Spitsbergen Island above the Arctic Circle with stops at loads of mega ski destinations in between including British Columbia, Austria, Colorado, Georgia (the one in Asia, dude), New Zealand and Alaska. Jonny Moseley’s narration fits well against this travelogue as the skiers call into his fictional talk radio show from wherever they are to get help for their “addictions” to “shooting lines” (i.e. ripping down couloirs) and “shredding powder” (the crystal water kind, not the Bolivian marching kind). As a concept it works well, not brilliantly but good enough to provide a thread that gives context, seeing as plot can never really be adequately handled in a sports action movie. Moseley’s been handling the narration job for Warren Miller Entertainment for a few movies now so he’s got the attitude and the patter down tight and he never sounds out of his depth (an unfortunately common occurrence when you’re a pro athlete making the leap to professional on-camera work).
As far as delivering the “goods”, Wintervention does superbly. Producers Max Bervy and Josh Haskins have an extremely experienced crew and full credit has to go to cinematographers Chris Patterson and Tom Day who manage to get their cameras in the right places to capture the type of footage that gives you an adrenaline rush even though you’re sitting on your sofa. Combined with the terrific soundtrack, Wintervention’s shots dish out a healthy dose of the shock and awe you want in a ski movie. While Wintervention may not be the coolest kid on ski movie block, it’s still good to make their acquaintance at the beginning of the season. By Mark “The Attorney General” Quail