Return of the Powder King

By Darren Friesen

      For those who are part of that weird cult that worships the snow instead of the sun, the time has almost arrived for another year. The mountains fill with joy and resorts taunt us with tentative opening dates, igniting our alter egos and driving us to look for the extreme. With only a handful of sleepless nights left before fearless souls are satisfied the exploits longed for are documented by one man, Warren Miller.

As his new film prepares to come to through Canada, the Warren Miller Entertainment group is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and Miller finds himself reflecting on his career. With five decades of movie making emblazoned on his resume the interview begins with a question from him.

"Is it snowing up there yet?" In true fashion, the king of powder subculture modestly accepts his popularity as an extreme filmmaker.

"There’s been an awful lot of people supporting my lifestyle these last 50 years."

Now, not as active as in past years, Miller passed the directing torch on to his son, Kurt, who is responsible for the currently touring Fifty. Miller states the new film is, "quite a bit different. My son owns the company now and they are just marching to a different. drummer than I did."

With just some narration and script credits to account for on this film, he remains confident that Warren Miller entertainment is adjusting for the future.

"I still favour a little more stuff that the average person can relate to but the audiences really like what they’re seeing and that’s the important thing."

After a successful career as a documentary film director Miller has turned his sights on other professions. Presently working as a weekly columnist in the United States, he is optimistic about his new profession.

"We are really starting to get underway now."

Although Miller is not presently directing, his discussion of the future of filmmaking and the sport of skiing and snowboarding resounds with the tones of wisdom.

"They [Warren Miller Entertainment] seem to have the passion for it, they’re really strong in marketing and we spent 50 years establishing a brand name and I imagine they will keep it going."

Miller would like to see films get better every year and eventually travel into different. avenues of the filmmaking experience.

"I’m very interested. I’ve been doing the same thing for 50 years and a new screen format [IMAX] would excite me a great deal."

Miller doesn’t share such an enthusiastic attitude for the future state of equipment that the athletes use in his films

"I think skis and snowboards will just get easier and easier to turn and ride, but the prices will only continue to go higher and higher. It’s crazy."

Warren Miller Entertainment will be presenting Fifty at the Jubilee Auditorium Nov. 4-5. Combining old and new footage, this film is a reflection on the past 50 years and a prophetic look at the 21st Century and the new images that Warren Miller’s films intended to create.