Warren Miller

The Warren Miller Retort

Warren Miller
Ryan Krogh

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This fall, Warren Miller Entertainment (WME) sued Level 1 Productions for having Warren Miller (the man) narrate a segment of its new ski film, Refresh. Miller, 85, responded by intervening in the suit and entering into arbitration with WME, a company he sold in 1988—thus relinquishing the right to use his name and voice in other ski films, according to lawyers for WME’s latest owner, Bonnier Corp. The litigation is ongoing, but Miller is ready to talk.

This is WME’s 60th year, and they’re doing a retrospective. Any hard feelings?

I’m amazed I haven’t received a phone call from the company in years. And now they do a film called Dynasty and use somebody else’s voice. They can—whatever.

So are independent producers like Level 1 the real people carrying on your legacy as a filmmaker?

They have the same motivation: They’re making movies with passion. Once a corporation takes over, it’s hard to keep that passion alive. For my first 14 years, I did all the photography, editing, and music, then I traveled and did the shows live.

That was a long time ago.

Bill Clinton was three years old. The world has changed dramatically—except people haven’t. They’re still searching for freedom. Ask anybody who’s been skiing for the first time. They get that faraway look in their eye.

Why’d you get involved with Level 1?

Their footage had a lot of people doing it the old-fashioned way—making right and left turns on skiable terrain, which audiences can associate with. Hotshots today do 820-degree upside-down twirlies, going 200 feet through the air. You kinda wonder where their brains went.

Any other gripes about modern ski culture?

In the fifties, Maria Bogner introduced stretch pants and brought sex and romance into skiing. It became glamorous. Today you see somebody going down the hill and they look like a sack of cats on the way to the river.

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