Yearbook, Matchstick Productions' much anticipated 2004 ski movie, will bring the sport's hottest skiers and most radical terrain to our own backyard for two nighttime showings, 7 and 9 p.m. The film, which debuted in Aspen this September and has made stops around the country ever since, once again brings to light the hard hitting talents of skiers Shane McConkey, Tanner Hall, Seth Morrison, Hugo Harrisson, C.R. Johnson, and others. New to the screen this year are ski movie first-timers Ingrid Backstrom and Tanner Rainville, who have a chance to show off their new school skills.
Movie goers and ski fanatics who make this autumn's pilgrimage to the movies will again be transported to Matchstick producers Steve Winter and Murray Wais' field of powder dreams. Winter and Wais have traveled around the world in search of the best mountain footage; this year they ventured to the slopes of Bella Coola, B.C., Aspen, Colo., the Alps of Norway, and Chamonix, France.
Paragon Ski & Sport Main Street store manager Trevor Leonard, who saw Yearbook earlier this fall, assures Telluride audiences that this year's film will meet Matchstick followers' highest expectations.
"We know they have the best ski movies being made, hands down," he said.
Which is why, according to Leonard, Paragon has sponsored Matchstick films for three years now.
Ski movie buffs around ski country agree. Matchstick Productions has received POWDER magazine's "Ski Movie of the Year" award for three years in a row and has won over 30 of the most prestigious awards for sport filmmakers. What puts Matchstick ski movies a notch above the rest is the way the filmmakers combine adrenaline-pumping ski footage of the sport's pioneering big mountain and freestyle skiers skiing the most radical terrain with commentary on the heart and soul of skiing.
"Every year they have the best athletes and the best cinematography, and with that set the trend in the ski movie world for that year," said Leonard.
As has been expected from Matchstick films, Yearbook offers a balanced mix of heart-pumping big mountain footage with awe-inspiring shots of the freestyle world's best known "park rats" flying on the edge of the limits of imagination.
In this year's film, Matchstick's Winter and Wais have again "stepped up the level of creativity" with their innovative cinematography, said Leonard.
Matchstick Productions' hard earned reputation for developing cutting-edge camera and editing techniques is perhaps what has given this small, Crested Butte-based company its reputation as the contemporary ski filmmaker. Founded in 1991 on the premise of "creating a lifestyle based around having fun in the mountains," Matchstick has produced 23 award-winning action sports films, with each year's new film watched in over 150 theatres around the globe. In addition Matchstick's New World Disorder series is breaking ground in the rapidly growing mountain bike film market and quickly becoming the most widely distributed mountain bike films in history. The film company is also venturing into the world of extreme sports television, with their recent production of a seven-show, high definition television series for Rush HD television, which will soon be viewed by HD watchers across North America.
Telluride has its own, albeit somber, connection to Matchstick. During a 1998 Matchstick film shoot in South America Telluride local and esteemed sports photographer T.R. Youngstrom died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash. Winter was on board at the time of the crash, and the incident has shaped the subsequent evolution of Matchstick films. In a press release, company representatives described the impact of the crash: "With the loss of a close friend and a life threatening experience in the back of their minds Winter and Wais had to make a decision if the risks outweighed the rewards. They decided to follow their lifelong passion and keep on producing action sports films despite the tragic loss."
Hordes of ski flick followers are indeed fortunate that Matchstick decided to stay with the movie business. Movie goers around the world enjoy hundreds of hours of awesome ski footage made now in the memory of Youngstrom.
Doors open for the 7 p.m. showing at 6:30 tomorrow night, and 8:30 for the 9 p.m. showing. Paragon's Leonard advises to get there early, as the movie generally sells out and tickets are only available at the door. Tickets cost $10.