Fall ski films are to skiers what Norman Rockwell paintings are to art critics, with careful brushstrokes depicting all that last winter was and all that this one could be. They evoke memories of a trip in the truck with Dad and Mom to a Warren Miller premiere, or a pizza shared with friends before Teton Gravity Research’s latest offering. Ski films are part of a skier’s life cycle, same as fall ski swaps and preseason playlists.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be reviewing six of this year’s top ski films from six different production houses. You’ll get an inside look at how they’re made, why they’re made, and what makes them such an unusually satisfying art form. Up first: Good Company’s Vice Versa.
Once you remove the boundaries of where one can ski, the only limits are your imagination and a little gumption. That’s what Good Company’s latest offering recognizes. Vice Versa is its first full-length ski film after two years of popular webisode projects. Filmed in the United States, Japan, British Columbia, and Quebec, this film and crew are grabbing the torch passed by the departure of big-city street crew Stept Productions, which has moved into more commercial endeavors.
Good Company—the brainchild of pro skier Tom Wallisch, cinematographers Kyle Decker and AJ Dakoulas, and sports agent Tom Yaps—is an athlete-driven company that works with a select group of skiers in its films. One such skier: 4FRNT’s Thayne Rich, whose impressive air sense steals the show. He’s a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year and breakthrough performer honors, and he’s yet another powerful skier to emerge out of the 4FRNT ski factory in Salt Lake City.
One of my favorite segments is the self-aware powder scene in Japan, which shows all the fun of international travel with a group of friends. My only complaint: it’s time to retire the “Tom Wallisch doesn’t like powder skiing” joke from years ago. In an early career interview, Wallisch said he didn’t like skiing powder—a blasphemous statement in the online forums. In fact, Wallisch was simply explaining his love for park skiing, and judging from this film, he doesn’t seem to be “bothered” by the deep stuff anymore. His segment, shared with the talented and young Chris Lake, is a must-watch in the film, as are all of Wallisch’s segments, really.
Some other style masters are on the roster, as emphasized in a killer segment at Snowboarder’s annual Super Park, and a few massive road-gap shots recall the old huck-it days of skiing.
In short, this film is a balance of street and backcountry skiing that only a crew as unique as Good Company’s could pull off. The closing segment, with Karl Fostvedt, should garner early season talk for awards season. That segment alone is worth the price of admission. With a killer soundtrack featuring young Brooklyn rap prodigy Joey Bada$$, Rakim, and Mos Def, Good Company’s Vice Versa is a fresh 38-minute offering from a relatively new film crew.
It’s available now on iTunes.