When Todd Jones and his brothers set out to make ski movies, they were just looking for a way to stay in the mountains. Now, 18 years later, Jones is still making movies, and his company, Teton Gravity Research, is firmly planted at the base of the Teton Range, its ski and snowboard movies inspiring thousands every year to pursue a life in the high alpine.
Along the way TGR has teamed up with some of action sports’ brightest athletes—names like Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Ian McIntosh—in some of the burliest terrain on Earth. They have partnered with revolutionary camera manufacturers to bring their visions to the big screen like never before, and, as they approach their second decade, show no signs of letting up.
This fall TGR will release “Almost Ablaze,” a ski movie that travels from Alaska to Bosnia-Herzegovina and everywhere in between. GrindTV called up Jones to discuss his new movie, a new cast of athletes, and the future for an action film company on the offensive.
What will set “Almost Ablaze” apart from some of the other movies you guys have made?
I think from a production quality standpoint, we've invested a ton in the GSS System; we had that last year at the end of March, so only had it for a month, but we had that for a majority of the film this time around. That camera is pretty much the most powerful camera system in the world, so I think that the imagery captured with that, coupled with our other equipment and weapons, is really going to stand out.
We're playing with the tools true Hollywood future films play with, and for us that's pretty game changing.
How about from the story side?
Another really big creative direction we took is that we really wanted to capture the athletes in their element, so we invested a lot in audio technology and kept the athletes mic'ed all season long. Not only that, but we had cameras positioned on them in a lot of scenarios where they wouldn't be, where they're watching other riders or a lot of the setup of getting to lines. So the goal is to really provide the viewer with the experience of what it's like to be one of those athletes and what it's like to be out there in that incredible and challenging environment.
That athlete perspective is the driving force behind the structure of the film and will give a layer that isn't always seen in these films.
Are there any new athletes this year who you’re stoked on?
Nick McNutt absolutely, and then Dane Tudor, who isn't new to the game, but is new to the TGR scene. But McNutt is a super standout; we're really excited about what he brings to the table. The guy is a real progressive all-mountain skier that we knew we knew we needed to work with.
Did he cross your radar after TGR's video competition last year, the Collab?
Yeah, we definitely picked him up from the Collab, along with camera guy Mike McLeod from 4bi9 Media. So from that video competition we linked up with some athlete and film talent.
You guys did some filming with urban ski crew 4bi9 for the movie this year too, right?
Yeah, we worked with 4bi9 on a segment in Bosnia. We had Joss Christensen, Karl Fostvedt, and Chris Laker over there, and it was just a crazy experience. Just with all of the controversy surrounding Sochi [Russia] and how it was thrown together, to see another Olympic site 20 years later, its pretty wild. I'm excited for that segment.
In addition to “Almost Ablaze,” you have the last movie of your brother Jeremy Jones' trilogy, “Higher,” coming out this fall. So the question is: Are you burnt out yet?
That's not even the half of it. We have four movies coming out this year and two made-for-TV series, so it's full steam ahead. It's exciting times here at TGR, that's for sure. I'm as motivated as I've ever been in the 18 years of this company's existence.
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