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  • The Sundance Diaries

    • Greg joined other directors of Sundance short films to blog about the path to the festival

      Greg's blogs for Huff Post

    The Huffington PostThe Huffington Post

    Click here to visit Greg I. Hamilton’s page at

    The Sundance Diaries: Jumping In

    Huffington Post
    Published January 12, 2012

    IT’S NEW YEAR’S, 2012 and I stand naked at the edge of a hole in a frozen lake. I poke my toe through the skin of ice and metaphor that has frozen over the hole since it was cleared an hour earlier. Though the moment seems ripe for allegory, it’s real water down there, that’s my foot poking in it, and others are waiting for me to jump. … read more at HuffPost

    The Sundance Diaries: Lurching from One Near-disaster to the Next

    Published January 21, 2012

    AT 70 MILES AN HOUR the single-digit air allows me about six squirts before the numbness sets in and I fear I’ll drop the spray bottle. I roll the window back up as the wiper smears the half-cleaned glass dirtier than it was before. Friggin frozen fluid lines. I think about pulling over, but there’s a schedule to keep and dammit, I’m heading to Sundance! … read more at HuffPost

  • Q&A – Cinematographer Tom Day

    • Greg interviewed Tom day for the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

      Magazine Feature 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

    Official magazine of the Warren Miller film tourWITH A DECADE SKIING FOR THE CAMERA and another decade of skiing with a camera, Tom Day may be the cheeriest ski cinematographer who ever was. Can you blame him?

    SnoWorld> How’d you break into ski movies?
    Tom Day> I was skiing around Squaw and met up with Scot Schmidt at the end of my first year. We started skiing together and the next season, ’83-84, we skied quite a bit.  One day he came into the ski shop where I was working. He mentioned that Warren Miller was going to be in town next week and wanted to know if I wanted to ski with him. I was blown away, definitely felt honored.

    SW> You drove straight to Tahoe after college and haven’t left. How was filming this year’s Squaw segment?
    TD> We just went to town with it. Squaw is hard place to film if fresh snow is what you’re looking for.  It goes fast: there are a lot of good skiers. We could film for an hour, sometimes two, before the public got there. You really only get a handful of shots a day and then boom, it’s gone. Luckily we had a record snowfall.

    SW> You hail from the East. What did this year’s shoot in Tuckerman Ravine mean to you?
    TD> Growing up in Vermont, Tuckerman was my first experience in big mountains. On the East Coast, it’s the mountain to be respected. Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine are extremely technical skiing. For Chris [Davenport] this trip was big: he started going up Tuckerman in his teens. I could tell what he was feeling—I felt it at the same time. Chris went back to his roots right before he left on an expedition to ski the biggest mountain in the world.

    SW> Another ambassador of Eastern mountains, two-time gold medalist Seth Wescott, joined you in Alaska. What’s he like?
    TD> Seth is very proud of his roots there in Maine, but he just loves going to Alaska. I’m blown away by how he likes to challenge himself. He’s become very confident scouting stuff from the helicopter. We’d be flying around until he’d say: “That looks really cool, I’d love to ride that.” A couple of times I’d do a double-take and see if I could read his eyes. I’m thinking: “Wow, that seems like a pretty aggressive line to be excited and calm about at the same time.”

    SW> How much are athletes really pushing themselves for you?
    TD> They’re pushing it. They know this is an opportunity. Skiing a big line, two or three thousand vertical feet in 30 seconds, stuff comes up pretty fast. This particular year in Alaska was really good because we had a seven-day high pressure. Three, four, five days in a row and they start to have confidence. They’re not thinking: “Is it going to avalanche?” or “is it wind crust?” Once they develop confidence in the snow, then they just charge that much more. That’s what makes it really good for filming.

  • Tales from the Road

    • Greg

      Front-of-book Feature, Winter 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

    The making of Warren Miller's 62nd annual filmDRINKING JELLYBEANS, yeti/moose encounters, and magical 100-point turns: most of what went into making this year’s film just doesn’t sound real.

    haskimoto [1:59 PM Aug 10th 2010 via web]: Film crew just left for Queenstown New Zealand. Here we go, @warrenmillerent 62nd annual film is officially in production!

    Magic Driving? We Think Not.
    Tyler Ceccanti reports on riding with photographer Alex O’Brien to their film shoot at CMH’s Monashee lodge:
    “It was dumping out. We found this road which we thought had to be the driveway. It was just wide enough for the truck, so there was no turning around. We drove for about 20 minutes before we realized we were in a really bad place, along a cliff line and we could see where an avalanche had come down across this little road. Alex magically got the truck to do a 180 without turning.”
    “It was downhill with 15-foot-tall snow banks on each side. As he started a 100-point-turn (Austin Powers style), the back end slid and the front twisted enough. It was crazy. As we were coming back along the cliff band, slough started to come down from above.”

    My helmet cam is bigger than yours.
    Just after Colby West agreed to shoot POV of his experience running around the X-games, the film crew showed him his rig. A belt harness held an articulated arm that ran over his shoulder to hold the 16mm camera in front of his eyes. Don’t they make smaller helmet cams these days?

    Refreshing Ice-cold Jellybeans
    In one filming location that shall remain unnamed, it turns out the resort was dry. As in no alcohol. Not that our film crews are lushes, but as one cameraman puts it: “After these long days, we usually sit down and have a beer to think about the day. We always start before sunrise and go to sunset, so it’s nice to kick back.” In this case, getting that end-of-day barley soda meant sneaking off-property. Camera crews invented a code word for their contraband: Jellybeans. Heard on the radio that day: “I’m really looking forward to having a jellybean.” And, when someone was headed to town for milk: “Hey, pick up a few more jellybeans.”

    Funniest moment caught on camera this year?
    “Watching snow monkeys do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” – Lynsey Dyer “Watching Josh in the yeti suit getting chased by the female moose—from the safety of the car.” – Tyler Ceccanti

    Scariest moment in filming?
    “Did Tyler really say that moose attack was the funniest moment? Jerk.” – Josh Haskins “Peeing in Pakistan and wondering if big army helicopters were going to fly over and take us out for crossing the line.” – Lynsey Dyer

    Hey Lel Tone, what do teens envy most about your job?
    “Being able to haul around 30 pounds of dynamite on your back and huck bombs. You can blow sh-t up for your job. That, I’m sure, is every teenage boy’s wet dream. Also, I get to fly around in an A-Star for a living.”

    Don’t Rip That Crotch Out
    With a $7,000 damage deposit on his credit card, Line Producer Josh Haskins was sweating bullets the whole week they shot that yeti costume in Canada: “The rental was $600 a day. I’m thinking I’m going to buy this thing whether I like it or not.” “There were moments where Andy [Mahre] was wearing the suit, no one was shooting him and he was completely in character: running around, freaking people out in the stairwells. We’d just hear shrieks and shake our heads and say: ‘Andy.'”

    Ski Bum Guilt
    “In Kashmir, everyone has a strong opinion and anger—understandably for what they’ve been through. As soon as it comes up, people get very serious. But everyone, no matter what side they were on, instantly shifted to a lighter, more playful space upon the idea of skiing powder snow. For a moment everyone was on the same page, sharing the same experience. Those moments made me proud of my sport and a little less guilty that we flew halfway around the world to indulge ourselves in deep curry powder.” – Lynsey Dyer

  • Profile: Colby West

    • Greg

      Athlete Profile, Winter 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

    Official magazine of the Warren Miller film tourHE LAUNCHES INTO HOTEL POOLS, does a wicked Optimus Prime impression, and makes a mean PB&J. Apparently this kid can ski, too.

    COLBY WEST’S METEORIC RISE to prominence as one of slopestyle skiing’s biggest stars is only matched by his talent for making funny voices. He can rustle up a Texas drawl that’s slicker than snot, deadpan a Scottish accent sweet as haggis pie, and slip a lisp to make any urban fashionista weak in the knees.

    West is so comfortable hamming it up in front of the camera that crews decided to turn the tables. Through a custom camera rig (West said “it makes me look fat”), they sought to recreate his career as he’s seen it, starting as a ski bum in a snowy parking lot.

    “Here’s the talented ski-lebrity Colby West and he’s excited to work with Warren Miller. The first thing we do is strap this goofy camera system on him then tell him to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the backseat of this crappy Buick.” – Director of Photography, Chris Patterson

    The film sequence winds through his three consecutive X-games podiums, with West ultimately arriving as a bona fide hero of the sport (signified by the inevitable flood of sponsor schwag and papparazzi). In creating this world-as-Colby-sees-it, at some point WME needed West to actually ski. Rest assured he did deliver.

    From Portillo, Chile to the Breckenridge park and Winter X slopestyle course, West finally got a chance to light it up like there’s no tomorrow.

  • Andy Mahre: Crown Prince of the Mahre Dynasty

    • Andy Mahre

      Athlete Profile, Winter 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

    Athlete profile, 2011-12DAD (STEVE) WON SILVER in ’84. Uncle Phil won silver in ’80, gold in ’84. Grampa Spike managed the local ski area. You could say skiing is in Andy Mahre’s blood.

    At age 16, Andy Mahre was staffing the White Pass table at local premieres of Warren Miller’s Ride. He’s worked those shows every year since, but now he’s more likely to get mobbed for autographs than for trailmaps.

    Tyler Ceccanti joined Andy for this year’s filming. He says: “Andy’s just naturally talented, he makes everything flow really smooth. I grew up watching him in movies; he’s a big reason why I love to ski switch in pow.”

    Andy’s advice for aspiring ski movie stars? “You’ve got to stay levelheaded—and motivated.” Yeah, right: levelheaded. Like launching into a narrow chute with loose goggles:

    “I was standing above two sets of pillows, with trees on both sides. The plan was to drop in, hit a pillow or two, then gap over to the other set,” recalls Mahre. “My goggles weren’t tight enough and fell over my eyes on the first drop. I had one chance to adjust them … and failed. Luckily I crashed into the pillows and stopped. I felt for a split second I was going to launch into a group of trees, blindfolded.”

  • Chris Davenport: Ambassador of Big Mountain Skiing

    • Profile of big mountain skier Chris Davenport for the Warren Miller magazine

      Athlete Profile, Winter 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd Warren Miller film tour

    Official magazine of the Warren Miller film tourWHAT DO YOU DO after a week of filming for WME in New Hampshire? If you’re Dav, you climb Everest … then look for bigger challenges.

    Seven days after summiting Everest, Chris Davenport was home in Aspen. He admits that after such adventures, “the list of objectives to ski and climb just gets longer rather than shorter.” Raising a family, reaching his fifth decade, and having already checked off enough bucket-list achievements to fill a swimming pool, Dav’s career actually seems to be accelerating.

    When you’ve bagged as many peaks and first descents as Davenport, bragging rights become less important than genuine adventure. That’s why for so long he dreamed of a film expedition on Mount Washington. This is where, at age 16, Dav had one of the largest crashes of his life—a blown landing that cartwheeled him all the way to the bottom of the ravine.

    Cameraman Tom Day, originally a Vermonter, describes Tuckerman Ravine as the East Coast’s gateway to big mountain skiing. It’s where guys like Day and Davenport went to experience all that the world’s toughest peaks might offer, including some very sketchy weather.

    “When we arrived at the base of Tuckerman there were rain runnels on the slopes: terrible for filming. But things turned around and we ended up having an awesome shoot—and really fun skiing. Never give up on something in the mountains unless you have no other choice.” – Dav

    Day says it’s not coincidental that Davenport finally got his Tuckerman shoot—just four days before heading for Everest: “I think it meant a lot to him to have that kind of experience to take over to the Himalayas.”

  • Lel Tone: Commutes by A-Star Helicopter, Skis with TNT

    • Greg

      Athlete Profile, Winter 2011-12

    Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

    Official magazine of the Warren Miller film tourCOMMUTES BY A-STAR helicopter, skis with TNT and blows things up. And that’s just her day job.

    “I don’t think anything in life is gratifying or satisfying unless there’s some kind of risk involved.” – Lel Tone

    It’s funny to think of a mountain icon like Lel Tone as a ‘hidden gem,’ or ‘undiscovered talent.’ But for all her lifetime of achievements in backcountry ski guiding and avalanche safety, Tone had never before appeared in front of ski movie cameras.

    Tone joined Lynsey Dyer for this year’s whirlwind expedition to Kashmir. A good travel companion? “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that woman complain,” says Dyer. “Oh and she’s a snow science nerd.”

    Tone ranks as Squaw’s number two avalanche forecaster (read: “bomb-hucker”). She’s also 12 seasons deep into Alaskan heli-guiding, so it’s not easy for Tone to shut off that instinct of looking after clients to keep them alive. In five days filming with Gulmarg Heliski, though, she was able to let her hair down. “It allowed me to purify my experience,” she says, “and to see it through my own eyes; experience it for myself.”

    “We called it the Saucy Minx: a narrow, steep couloir. The one thing in my mind was: ‘This isn’t the cleanest of lines. If everything goes poorly, I’m going to get drilled right into the rock wall at the bottom.'” – Lel Tone

    “You make smart decisions,” says Tone, “you’ve laid the foundation and you’ve come up with a good plan. Then, at some point, you just need to lift up your skirt and jump.”