How It Came To Be

Jim C. and I used to talk about a lot of things during our night shifts at the Bakery Cafe in Crested Butte, CO. Mostly he'd tell me about his backcountry skiing adventures from earlier in the day. He was usually spent by the time he came in to do the dishes. We often spoke of making a movie (he was always telling me how he could be an actor). Then we talked about making a ski movie - a real, down to earth, tell-it-like-it-is flick made for telemark skiers. Not some follow-the-snowstorms-around-the-world, straight-line it down Alaskan heli runs. That shit ain't happening for your average ski town local.

Then one evening in August 1996 - thoroughly inebriated at a friend's wedding, we decided we were just gonna do it, for better or for worse. We had no equipment, no film experience - it would be the ultimate rookie, basement project.

Well, September rolled around and the Aspens were changing fast. Our month-by-month documentary was supposed to start in September, and we still had no camera. I borrowed an ancient video camera from Maria Poor, and we started taking shots - bad, shakey, discolored shots - mainly so we could have footage from September. And finally, one day late in the month, a package arrived from NYC with the new Sony TR-3000 Hi-8mm camera inside. A new toy! Without reading any instructions, we set the thing down at one end of our coffee table, hit record, and thus got the opening scene of Ski Bummin'.

From then on it was pretty much all free-form movie making. Kinda like, "Jim, I need to get some footage of you skiing in the backcountry," or "Hey Ethan, we're going up to Steamboat for a few days, wanna come?" There was more than one occasion that the idea of scrapping the whole thing came to mind. Ski bums don't really care to be filmed, nor do they have the patience to be filmed. It turned out that Jim hated attention, at least in front of his homies. But after we all got our powder days in - December '96 was a powder month - the ship slowly turned around and everyone was back into it.

By the end of the season we had racked up some 30 hours of tape. This was reduced to 8 hours, and unwillingly chopped down again until we had a 80 minute documentary. A half-ass idea of a ski movie had somehow materialized. After six weeks of editing the following summer (thanks to the skills of editing guru Noah White) we had a flowing story of ski bums living in Crested Butte, Colorado during the winter season of '96-'97.

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