Marcus Caston plunges down a slope in the French Alps. (Warren Miller Productions)

Marcus Caston plunges down a slope in the French Alps. (Warren Miller Productions)

This year’s Warren Miller film captures the ‘essence of skiing’

It’s the 70th annual ski movie since Miller shot his first way back in 1949.

Here’s the fix for skiers and snowboarders waiting for snow in the mountains.

“Timeless” is the 70th feature-length ski film made by Warren Miller Entertainment. Miller, who died in 2018, began making ski films in 1949. They quickly became popular, thanks to dynamic footage and Miller’s laid-back, genial narration.

“The Warren Miller ski film is a tradition every year for thousands of skiers to come out and celebrate winter together,” said Marcus Caston, one of four skiers filmed in Chamonix, France, for this year’s edition. “This year’s movie really showcases the essence of skiing.”

The skiers and crew were on that site about two weeks. “The weather was great,” said Caston, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We had about a meter of snow the first night and then the sky went blue and we had an epic two weeks.”

Other scenes were filmed in Wyoming, Switzerland, British Columbia and Colorado.

Amie Engerbretson, of Squaw Valley, California, was filmed in helicopter skiing segments at Bella Coola, B.C.

“Mountains — really big, tons of glaciers, wild, remote, crazy,” is how she enthusiastically describes the scenery.

“We work very closely with the cameraman — maybe the light is not right or the angle is not right,” she said. “The thing about making these movies is it’s all teamwork.”

Her father was a professional skier and became a cinematographer and filmmaker.

“The idea of being a professional big mountain skier is not really normal, but in my family it was,” she said.

Her work in British Columbia involved about eight ski runs a day. The challenges are more mentally than physically exhausting, “because of all the adrenalin that we deal with when we’re skiing those big runs,” she said.

Chris Patterson, who lives in Bozeman, Montana, is film director and director of photography. He’s worked on Warren Miller movies for 28 years. “It’s an interesting challenge every year and every day is obviously a different set of circumstances,” he said.

Weather can be both an ally and add additional challenge to their projects. “We have to adapt,” Patterson said.

The films include a variety of landscapes, such as the high alpine regions of Canada or the deep snow and big glaciers of the Alps.

The switch from film to digital allows them to shoot movies with high resolution. “We film the movie for the big screen,” Patterson said. “We really film it in the field for the experience of sitting in the theater with a bunch of friends with a community of skiers and snowboarders.”

The development of drones for cinematography has been game-changing.

“The fact we can take this small, almost toy-like camera out of a box and fly it away with a little controller, in winds and at high altitude, and get these remarkable images — to me, that’s the biggest technological step,” Patterson said.

Yet the goal is not to draw attention to the photography but for it to be discreet for moviegoers. “We want them to sit there and lose themselves in the movie,” he said.

Even as this year’s movie is being screened nationally, plans are under way for next year’s version.

They include returning to Switzerland, a trip to Montana focusing on skiing legends, the founders of the extreme skiing movement from the late ’80s and early ’90s such as Scot Schmidt; and a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, to film a new generation of skiers.

Each movie includes one location they characterize as exotic — that location hasn’t yet been chosen. But it remains a key part of each year’s filming.

“When I was a kid and saw the Warren Miller movies it was, ‘Where are they going to go now?’ he said. “For me, that was one of the exciting things I’ve had a chance to do over the years — organize those trips out of a desire to keep fueling that sense of adventure.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

“Timeless,” the 70th skiing film from Warren Miller Entertainment, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett.Tickets are $20. More at tinyurl.com/Timelesstks.

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