Warren Miller: Celebrate A Reel Skier’s Life

Warren Miller never had a GoPro.

He made his movies the old fashioned way, shot on reels of film edited by splicing into the annual features that quickly became an integral part of the new ski lifestyle and culture that boomed in prosperous, mobile post-war America.

Sure, the GoPro HERO, MAX or whatever are amazing tools, packing so much punch into a tiny package. They let anyone who can ski make ski movies these days. Edit them on the fly on your phone, post to the World. Instantly. Too easy.

No GoPro no problem .. © Warren Miller Entertainment

However, just because anyone who can ski can shoot their own movies then edit it in a flash with iMovie or GoPro’s new Quik App doesn’t mean anyone would pay to watch the results. Instagram’s minute of fame was the limit, then along came their Reels to extend that. But hands up who watches past a minute of anything anyway? Not too many of us, and certainly not for long.

Let’s face it, unless you are a Candide Thovex or Travis Rice, best to keep it short and sweet. Or Jerry-of-the-Day worthy. Or for friends only. Because realistically, a few seconds attention on a small screen is all you will get for your efforts. Which is fine. Share those moments with mates, especially if they’re missing out.

Warren Miller editing film clips for his 2nd ski movie
Before iMovie and GoPro’s Quik App, this is how you did it .. © Warren Miller Entertainment

Being movie and live entertainment deprived during lockdowns has taught us the shared experience of watching a real movie in a real cinema with real people around us is something we crave. Kicking back to ooooh, aaaah and ha-ha with an audience sharing the emotions generated by the big screen experience is just the best.

Warren Miller pretty much invented the ski roadie, living the 1947 season parked at Sun Valley – for $18! © Sun Valley / Warren Miller Entertainment

For snow lovers, the gold standard remains Warren Miller. The World’s original ski movie maker, or these days the modern incarnation of his style, keeps packing out theatres around the planet.

So this is a tribute to his unique ‘reel skier’s life’, with some classic quotes and images celebrating his amazing life. If you’ve read this far you must be a snow lover too. Looking at the young Wozza hitting the road it’s impossible not to dream of doing similar.

And as the snow World knows,

“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”

Teardrop trailer at Sun Valley 1947 © Warren Miller Entertainment

Warren Miller was the original master of ski movies, the first person to take the new boom sport/lifestyle to the big screen. Essentially, by doing it all by himself – going on the road to film, then on the road again to show the movies made in what became an annual autumn ritual across America.

Did Warren Miller invent the ski roadie?

He sure gave drop-everything-just-go-skiing a huge nudge we can all relate to today. Famously in the late 1940s he lived for 100 days in the Sun Valley parking lot for $18. Wow – at Buller, Hotham and Falls we would love to be paying that ..

Deep and Light Warren Miller 1950 movie at the Seattle Metro Theatre
You could use that title today – 1950, Seattle’s Metro Theatre © Warren Miller Entertainment

“Every snowrider has a dream. A dream of over your head powder snow. A dream to cut a steeper line on a taller and taller mountain.”

From the start, he knew that powder was the ultimate. How good is ‘Deep and Light’ for a title? That was the 1950 movie!

Warren Miller heading backcountry in the 1940s
There were a lot less lifts in 1947: Miller and friend heading out © Warren Miller Entertainment

Miller was an expert skier, but he always knew to keep the public engaged it had to be about more than expert skiing.

In the early years he helped set trends, later he was adept at incorporating trends, but he never lost sight of the fun and funny side. Watching pros drop cliffs is spectacular, but beginners rounding the bullwheel is often as or more entertaining, as Jerry-of-the-Day proves.

“Looking back on what set my films apart, it was the emphasis on entertaining people, which means making them laugh”

Which kind of summed up his view of life too.

“Don’t take life seriously because you can’t come out of it alive”

He knew a thing or two about style sweaters too.

Squaw Valley Ski School 1949 © Warren Miller Entertainment

Future Retro, edition #71 of the amazing movie saga, is set for a 40 plus stop tour in Australia and New Zealand kicking off May 7 in Auckland and May 12 in Melbourne.

Stay tuned here, tomorrow we’ll bring you part 2 of our Warren Miller tribute, 7 Decades At the Ski Movies

And try and introduce someone else to snow riding this winter, because

“Once you take your first ride up a lift your life will be changed forever”

Warren Miller surfing at Malibu Pier 1947
He was a surfer too, back when that was not so easy either – 1940s Malibu Pier © Warren Miller Entertainment