As a teenager growing up in the Bay Area, seeing the latest Warren Miller movie meant the start of ski season.
My adrenaline would be pumping watching those skiers—and they were just skiers then, no snowboarders. Their ability, their antics, there personalities—all so amazing and captivating. And then that scenery. Absolutely breathtaking.
Those films are what made me want to go helicopter skiing. They made me want to travel to ski. They made me want to be in the mountains.
I never made it heli-skiing because I never felt confident in my ability to even look into it. I have skied at many resorts in the United States. I lived in Tahoe twice and still feel most at home in the mountains.
Warren Miller, as they say, brought the stoke to the sport.
While many filmmakers followed in his footsteps in the ski industry and other sports filmmaking, he can be credited with being the founder of the action sports film industry. He was 93 when he died in January 2018.
I was fortunate to have met him when he was in South Lake Tahoe in 2010 to receive a lifetime achievement award at the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival that was in Stateline. That voice is what captivated me. It was as distinct in person as it is on the screen. Not only did he direct the films through 1987, he was the narrator through 2004.
For a while, I saw each Warren Miller film when it came to Lake Tahoe. Then my attendance became more sporadic. When I was there in November 2021 I went with friends to see the latest film. Still outstanding, captivating and awe-inspiring.
The talent of the athletes has only gotten better. The footage even more surreal. The terrain more diverse. The stories even more interesting.
While, I’m no longer a die-hard Warren Miller movie-goer, it hit me hard learning there will be no new movie for the 2023-24 season.
“January 24th represents many things to me, sadly this is the anniversary of Warren Miller’s passing in 2018 and coincidentally it’s also the day that we traditionally set off each winter to film the annual ski/snowboard movie that bares (sic) his name. However for the first time in my 30 years with @warrenmillerent and for the first time in the companies (sic) 74 year history – No one will actually film the movie this winter,” Chris Patterson, director of photography for Warren Miller Entertainment, posted on Instagram.
Time Warner bought Warren Miller Entertainment in 2005. Pocket Outdoor Media bought Warren Miller in 2020. In 2021, Pocket bought Outside Integrated Media and Outside TV and rebranded itself as Outside.
Patterson on social media went on to say, “Due to financial challenges at Outside, the executives have chosen to assemble the future movies entirely with ‘existing footage’ – no need for a camera crew, plane tickets, lift tickets and for that matter, no need for athletes or snow.”
I’m sure there is a ton of footage that ended up on the editing room floor. I’m sure the money crunchers don’t see the need for new, thinking recycled will do.
But it won’t be the same.
I’m just happy Warren Miller isn’t here to see what others have done with company, his brand, his name. While they can’t tarnish his legacy, I am saddened by this turn of events.