Powderwhore Productions are currently gearing up for the release of their 6th telemark ski movie, “TeleVision,” so we decided to catch up with Powderwhore co-founder Noah Howell to catch an insider’s look at what goes into producing a major ski film.
Facing a myriad of weather difficulties this year, Powderwhore was challenged to switch things up – using innovative methods to ensure the film quality was in line with the caliber of previous Powderwhore releases. After watching the trailer, I think you’ll agree with me – mission accomplished!
Powderwhore has clearly come a long way since the release of your first film in 2005 – did you ever dream of it getting to the point where you had major sponsors such as Black Diamond, Backcountry.com, Mountain Hard Wear, etc. jumping on board? How has this affected the filming process?
Yeah we’ve been learning how to make movies, by making movies. And luckily our sponsors have stood by us through the process which hasn’t always been pretty. There actually hasn’t been much ‘jumping on board’ though. It’s been a steady building of relationships and making sure we’re all wanting the same things and heading in the same direction. There were plenty of broken promises and hyped up projects that fell through before we entered the game. Many companies have been burned and were reluctant to back tele-flicks. Getting in the doors has been really difficult with many sponsors. However, once we were welcomed in, and our product was delivered, working with these well respected companies has been great. The filming process hasn’t changed at all and that is what is so great, they allow us to make the flicks we want to make without interference, so far.
Explain the story concept behind “TeleVision.”
This was one of our first ideas for a flick some 5 or 6 years ago, but we didn’t see how we could pull it off so it was filed away. After making ‘Flakes’ last year we wanted to push ourselves in a new direction. The goal was to lighten things up and make a film where every shot was either beautiful, thrilling, humorous, or deep powder. Television seemed like the perfect way to go, part Saturday Night Live and part ski porn. Each segment starts with a spoof of certain TV shows or infomercials real or imagined and leads into our best footage ever captured. We wanted to use these intro’s to break up the skiing and keep the viewer guessing at what could be coming next.
Being a telemark ski film, I noticed you guys have incorporated some of the emerging freestyle tele guys like Ty Dayberry, is this going to continue in the future?
We’ve actually featured the flippy spinning stuff in all of our films except one. We worked with Josh Madsen earlier on and now Ty Dayberry. Most of our filming focuses on pow and big mountain skiing, but what Ty is doing is so incredible we love adding it into the PW mix.
Did anyone surprise you this year with how their clips/segment turned out?
That is a tough one to answer. It seems everybody was pushing their limits this year. The one that stands out the most on film is probably Paul Kimbrough. We knew Paul could blow some minds with the right terrain and conditions and he did just that in Alaska. It’s one of the most well rounded segments we’ve ever captured.
So I know you had a bit of trouble with El Nino – but still you still managed to produce one of the deepest powder segments ever?
The backcountry was highly unstable for much of the winter, so we had a tricky time filming without getting caught in avalanches. We did push the boundaries during a huge storm system and safely skied this area of aspens we feel really comfortable in. Watch the trailer and you’ll catch a glimpse!
Alaska seems like its going to play a major role in the film this year. Can you describe the different trips and tease us with any exciting moments?
AK saved the day! We didn’t have enough footage for a film coming into the spring so we divided up and rolled the dice in Alaska. Jonah took Jason West, Paul Kimbrough, Jake Saxson and Megan Michelson to Thompson Pass near Valdez. They toured off the pass and skied big fast lines like they were going out of style. The timing was perfect and as for exciting moments it looks like that’s all they experienced. You’ll see they nailed it in every way.
I took the seasoned veterans Andy Jacobsen, Nick Devore, Will Cardamone and Chris Erickson deep into the steep mountains outside of Haines These guys pushed the physical boundaries of what is possible to climb and ski. I’ve never seen helmet cam footage of anybody skiing steeps like this on telemark gear before. They pushed their limits and came away in awe of what went down Next,
I headed into the rugged unknown couloirs of the Revelations Mountains with Andrew Mclean, Jim Harris and Courtney Phillips. Here we led a self supported expedition exploring this beautiful remote range for 2 weeks.
Were you ever worried when flying in Alaska especially considering the recent Ted Stevens plane crash that popularized the notion of how dangerous flying can be in the area?
We worked with some great pilots, but even then we did have some issues. We were a little ‘lost’ on the flight into the Revelations and ran out of gas and had to make an emergency landing at a random fishing cabin on the way back to Anchorage. Flying small planes is just like driving a car up in AK, it’s the way you get around. If you look at it compared to accidents on the road I bet it still has a safer fatality record.
When can we expect the world premiere?
TeleVision makes it’s debut in Salt Lake City at Brewvies on Sept 29th! Then we take the show on the road to over 35 cities in the western states getting folks fired up for the winter to come!
Without further adieu, Powderwhore is pleased to release the trailer for “TeleVision” featuring:
Megan Michelson, Paul Kimbrough, Jake Sakson, Noah Howell, Jason West, Nick Devore, Andy Jacobsen, Will Cardamone, Chris Erickson, Andrew McLean, Jim Harris, Ty Dayberry, Paige Brady, and Courtney Phillips.
If this trailer has got you drooling for the powdery release of “TeleVision,” be sure to tide yourself over with the last season’s Powderwhore flick, “Flakes,” set to air on the Ski Chanel this month.
Additionally, Powderwhore has an entire segment in the forthcoming Ski Channel original movie, “The Story,” set to premiere with a grass-roots movie tour starting this fall.