The film ‘Journey’
Who: The world’s best snowriders, including local stars Chris Anthony and Toby Dawson, at dozens of exotic locales around the globeWhat: Warren Miller’s 54th annual film, JourneyWhere: The Vilar Center for the Arts, Beaver CreekWhen: Friday, Oct. 17 (6:30 and 9:30 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 18 (6:30 and 9:30 p.m.).Cost: $15Call: (888) 920-2787, or click on http://www.vilarcenter.orgSometimes I can’t believe this has all taken place. When I look back over the last 15 years, I’m amazed at how fast it has gone by.Fifteen, I wonder? That’s the same amount of time it took from my birth to my sophomore year in high school. Crazy, considering how long it seemed to take to get through one day in high school. Now minutes seem like seconds, and days have drifted into hours. Yet I still feel as if I graduated yesterday and need to get a real job tomorrow.This virus I caught the one that condenses years into minutes that are now memories can be blamed on one person: filmmaker, artist and creative writer Warren Miller. He infected me with just one phone call.”Will you come and film with us in France”?That one phone call changed my life. It gave me the convincing power over my college professors to postpone my finals, and also introduced me to an entirely new way of living. Of course, one professor did not go along with my plan and eventually failed me. Ironically, he was my sports psychology professor. Apparently he did not understand the psychological power of Warren Miller’s films.Already addicted to the outdoors, I became a snow junkie as a big-mountain rider in search of a fix. It has been an odyssey that has turned into a 24-7 obsession for most of my life.Two years ago, I held onto the notion I could find a cure for “Millerism,” as I call it. Then I was injured and reality made me realize this virus is part of my life, this manifestation has now become my work. One day bleeds into the next and over 15 years the virus is beyond curable.Despite the rapid pace “Millerism” has overtaken my being, the resulting side effects have been amazing. It has been a journey and a very unique one at that. Experiencing the cultures, the environments, the mountains I have been able to slide down has been worth every bit of suffering this radical virus has subjected me to.There were times I wish the clock had spun quicker. Times like having a real stomach virus at 19,000 feet in Ecuador, days of no sleep. Surviving an old Russian helicopter rented to a happy drunken Iranian in the Middle East. I survived those nights and fearful flights, plus carrying heavy gear up mountains in brand new, never-worn ski boots just to ski down and be captured by a camera for all those individuals with a slight case of Millerism who live the adventure through my eyes. All in all I couldn’t be happier about being infected by “Millerism.” Looking back on the moments that have been etched in my mind, it seems like a flash in time.Time is a funny thing. Especially when you are having fun.”Millerism” is about fun, living the moment and following your passion. Those who are infected, easily recognize it in others. A certain look in another’s eyes who’s infected with the virus ID’s them as a different breed, part of something unique. Part of a culture, a belief, a lifestyle, and for some, a religion.A Warren Miller film is more than what takes place on screen. It is an attitude, an energy that has created audiences who have gathered every fall for the last 50-plus years in theaters to welcome the change of seasons. It is a documentation of a bunch of characters, not much different than those in the audience, traveling to places most people do not have time to tackle. It is a family of friends bonded by a sensation powerful enough to elevate the heart rate and stimulate dreams. It is in fact a disease that can actually be a catalyst to a personal life change.This year’s film has been entitled “Journey,” and to sum it up, in Warren Miller style, the film documents a variety of locations, beautiful scenery and professional athletes pushing it for the audience’s entertainment. But not all, or even most, of the battle is ever documented for the big screen. The majority of it happens off camera to get to the location and actually create a segment for the film. Ninety percent of the time, the last thing that comes together is the skiing. In fact most of the time the snow is horrible, the weather turns for the worse, and a political crises breaks out. Yet the segment is still shot and the tricks to make this happen are what I will document in a book one day.The entire “Journey” is about dealing with crisis. As it is said, “That which does not kill you will only make you stronger,” and so the Miller films have become stronger, more dramatic, and at times more bizarre. Utilizing the experiences from the past to build the future, the art of putting this annual film together has also seen production quality evolve over time. The cameras, film and the editing have all been advanced with digital technology. The athletes themselves have had to step it up with every mountain that has been skied or park built. They are actors of the environment. Sometimes the stage is one turn on five square feet of the only snow for miles, or it might be a massive unnamed peak that could be certain death if anything should go wrong. No matter what the location or the stunt, the athletes probably sat around for hours nervous about recording this one moment onto film. Then the radio clicks, the cameraman counts down and the athlete without hesitation drops into character. It is a magical sight to behold.The endless moments of waiting for the countdown are often spent calming the nerves and rehearsing the stunt mentally. So much has to come together in order for the athlete, cameraman, light and snow to be in sync. It is a science of controlled chaos driven by pure passion to bring home a film to the loyal audience that show up every fall to see what happened last season while psyching themselves up for the coming one.Yes, the 15 years have whipped by in what seems just a fraction of a moment. But it has been an amazing journey with portions of it caught on film. As I continue to go fast into the future, I can’t wait to pause for a moment with the Warren family and watch this fall’s film, “Journey.”Avon-based big-mountain skier Chris Anthony will be appearing in “Journey” skiing and goofing off in Valbruna, Italy. Anthony is also working on a book about his years spent with Warren Miller that will appear next fall.
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