The Meeting Film Festival – Aspen – Report 1

Post by blogger | October 6, 2008      

As you’re reading this, I’m probably on an airliner headed for Norfolk Virginia, to be with my father during what might be his last days on earth. My dad loved Aspen, especially all the zany craziness the town used to be famous for, and still is to some degree. So it was a nostalgic trip up to the old mining town this past Friday for the “Meeting” ski and snowboard film festival.

During the 1960s in Aspen a guy named Ralph Jackson spent his ski days in top hat and fur coat, linking royal christies and on-snow 360s with sips from his flask. I think I remember my mom flirting with Ralph. Yet another newschooler.

During the 1960s in Aspen a guy named Ralph Jackson spent his ski days in top hat and fur coat, linking royal christies and on-snow 360s with sips from his flask. Yet another newschooler.

Aspen has played an integral roll in much of North American ski history, so it feels good that the Aspen Ski Company is hosting this “Meeting” event that’s part film festival and part confab, as the newer “action” snowsports the festival covers are the same thing as freestyle was in the 1970s, or for that matter slalom racing nearly a century ago when Arnold Lunn stuck some saplings in the snow and said, “ski around these boys, whoever gets to the bottom first wins.”

Yep, no matter how hard you party and how hip you dress, today’s new school is tomorrow’s old school. So enjoy it while you can (as everyone from pro skier Simon Dumont to youth marketing genius Christopher Jerard seem to be doing here.)

Ralph Jackson around 1978, doing his trademark turn.

Ralph Jackson around 1978, doing his trademark turn. Those are binoculars around his neck and he's got a cigarette holder in his mouth. The binoculars are actually a booze flask, by the way. The guy was a nut case, but really lightened up the atmosphere. The Mick Jagger pants are priceless, eh?

Lets get started on some of my adventures.

First off, I dropped in on a BtoB “session” seminar/workshop titled “HD Cinema and the challenges of changing technology. Headed up by Jeff Blauvelt of HDCinema, much of what they covered was over my head, but I enjoyed every minute of the talk about $900 memory cards and $10,000 helmet cams. More, watching Blauvelt swing a $15,000 lens around like he was holding a can of PBR was priceless. I think my $250.00 Canon digicam wilted during that, but did perk up a bit when they mentioned something about using the vid function of your still camera as a backup system. I didn’t have the heart to tell little Canon they were talking about his big brothers, might as well let him dream.

Interesting tidbit was Jeff saying that video has changed movie shooter habits. Now, even when they shoot film, cinimatographers tend to shoot more takes and use more of the materials Kodak provides. I chuckled to myself. What a good example of the law of unintended consequences. Sort of like back when everyone thought computers would cut down on paper use, and they actually increased it due to the proliferation of printers and ease of printing.

Between events, I got in a fitness hike on Aspen Mountain. Nothing like those autumn aspens and some wet sunlight.

Between events, I got in a fitness hike on Aspen Mountain. Nothing like those autumn aspens and some wet sunlight.

Then, on to the film festival, where at least some of the footage was shot with above mentioned glass.

First flick was “Hunting Yeti” by Nimbus Independent. I’m still trying (and may be doing so for a long long time) to figure out what really makes a good ski movie when it has little or no plot. I enjoy the visuals and pounding music as much as much as anyone. But I try to imagine I’m a festival judge, and I come up short on criteria. But production values are definitly up there on the list.

At the top end, as all films at The Meeting are, you’d have to be a producer or cinimatographer to see most any differences. But one thing I noticed is that everything has definitly stepped up. Visuals are crisper than ever, color pallets more rich. Only thing that continues to annoy is lack of dynamic range that frequently causes the sky to white out if they want the snow exposed in a pleasant way.

It was also my sense that the sound mix was better than ever, but that might have been the new $80,000+ mixing board at the venue. Nothing like tuning the noise for the house. (or, come to think of it, perhaps I was using better quality ear plugs.)

In terms of sound, Hunting Yeti had something unusual. While the webisodes you’ll see have contemporary music, the theatrical release (and presumably the DVD) roll to a list of 80s and early 90s rock. Hard driving numbers such as David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, perhaps even a dance mix though I hadn’t heard the original in quite some time (undertatement). I couldn’t help but wonder how the 20-somethings watching the flick felt about scoring new-school moves with tunes from before they were born, but it worked for me and was defintly a bold move on the part of Nimbus.

One other thing about Hunting Yeti: It has one of the more artistic and compelling segments of night skiing I’ve seen. Which leads me to another judging criteria.

While I don’t want to see a ski flick full of forced special effects, what seems appropriate is if the cinimatographrs and editors utilize everything that digital production makes available for artistic expression. Night skiing is one of those things, as shooting at night with conventional film is difficult at best, but by using the capabilities of digital capture, you can shoot action even with the meager illumination of a night lit ski resort — and beautifully to boot. (Oh, and if they did somehow shoot this on film, more power to ’em, but the point is that doing such work with digital technology can be so much easier.)

WildSnow’s take? While I’m not saying run out and buy the Hunting Yeti DVD, I’d definitly check it out when your kid does. And if you have the oportunity to see the flick in a theater, by all means do so. State of the art, for sure — just make sure they’ve got a good mixing board for those Supertramp and David Bowie numbers.

More movie stuff next blog, including Davenport’s segment in Matchstick’s new effort.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


9 Responses to “The Meeting Film Festival – Aspen – Report 1”

  1. Dongshow October 6th, 2008 4:58 pm

    Looking for criteria to judge a montage style ski movie? I like to apply them all to the standards set by Dziga Vertov. An ability to create a fresh perspective of their own worlds should come above all else. “I am the machine that reveals the world to you as only I alone am able to see it”

  2. Lou October 6th, 2008 5:11 pm

    I’m on my second Tecate, waiting for an airplane in Minneapolis, and I still don’t get it Dongshow. Am I missing something? Should I be drinking PBR? (grin)

  3. ScottN October 6th, 2008 7:17 pm

    Sounds like, its just a matter of your own perspective, i.e. its all relative, even what kind of beer you drink (grin). Hope your trip goes well Lou. I thought you’d be hunting powder this AM after yesterdays storm. PM’d you about some truck stuff.

  4. Dongshow October 6th, 2008 8:35 pm

    Good Luck on the trip Lou.

    Here is a bit of my point. The vast majority of ski films are best described as porn, providing the viewer with a progression of fantastic foreign images to lust for. The good ski movies are more self aware, and with a more personal touch help the viewers to contemplate their own experiences by recreating them in a new form, i.e. fresh perspective. Rather then watching porn the viewer feels as if it’s peaking through the window, watching something maybe not meant to be public.

    The best are a combination of the two, where you feel like your witnessing the most epic ski season imaginable but it all seems very familiar, with the same emotions as the previous season at your local hill. Sorry if I got too philosophical.

  5. Bruce Baker October 7th, 2008 3:03 am

    Hey Lou,

    Just to let you know, the Royal Christie is actually more accurately called the Reuel Christie turn. This from the website
    ” The ballet event was born in 1929, when Dr Fritz Reuel conceived of a form of skiing similar to figure skating and developed the Reuel Christie and other spinning manoeuvres for skiers. Doug Pfeiffer’s School of Exotic Skiing (1956-62) expanded Dr Reuel’s premise by teaching new tricks such as the mambo, the Charleston, spinners, tip rolls and crossovers, and was the first evidence that on-hill instruction was being provided for the skiing public.”
    Christie, of course, is short for Christiania (I believe of Austrian origin, but I could be wrong there…)
    My two cents. Thanks for the great website!


  6. Kay L. July 18th, 2010 5:43 pm

    Lou are you Ralph E Jackson’s son?

  7. Lou July 19th, 2010 12:00 am

    Kay, in spirit only.

  8. Michael April 10th, 2011 4:42 pm

    Lou, I knew Ralph in 1963 when I was in junior high in Aspen. He was a friend of my mom’s. I remember him skiing like no one else. I was wondering where the sculpture in the picture is located? I’m glad you posted these photos. I haven’t been able to find any other images. I’m thinking of writing a book about freestyle. How did you know Ralph?

  9. David Wood May 27th, 2011 7:16 pm

    Lou, can you tell me where that Ralph Jackson sculpture/statue is? Is it somewhere in Aspen? Thanks.

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