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A&E Blog

Beyond Ski Porn: Powder Awards in Park City; John Stifter Q&A

by Austen Diamond
- Posted // 2013-01-16 - The 13th annual Powder Awards, held on Jan. 17, moves to Park City in a year that marks a change in the ski-film industry as a whole. Powder Magazine editor John Stifter comments.

The Powder Awards move this year from Aspen to Park City Live in Park City. The event is like the Academy Awards of the ski industry, says John Stifter. And for the first time, the red carpet is open to the general public. Tickets are $10; proceeds benefit Wasatch Backcountry Rescue. The after party will also take place at Park City Live and features Nero.

More information about the awards and the event can be found here.

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Stifter chats with us about the move and the state of the ski-film industry:

City Weekly: Since the first Power Awards 13 years ago, how has it evolved?

John Stifter: From a nightclub in Las Vegas to a nightclub in Park City, the Powder Awards has changed immensely. We're gonna have nearly 1,000 people at this year's show, broadcast live again on the Web. The event has become the Academy Awards of ski cinematography, attracting the best filmmakers, athletes, and industry celebrities, in addition to a slew of endemic and non-endemic media. In regard to the process, we have a panel of 40 judges voting on 15 awards. Those awards have evolved from Best Humor and Best Crash to Best Web Series and Best Jib, to name a few.

CW: The awards are primarily ski-movie focused. In what ways have ski movies shifted over the years, in terms of cinematography, location, music, themes, etc.?

JS: First off, we received submissions from 20-plus filmmakers this year compared to years past when there were only five legit films. We're also seeing several two-year film projects (Candide Thovex's Few Words being the example this year and Sherpas Cinema's All.I.Can., which won Movie of the Year last year), which has been refreshing in that it's broken the standard one-year formula. With the advent and pervasiveness of digital video, every company now shoots primarily digital instead of film, using the new RED cameras. This has not only increased the number of filmmakers and made it easier to produce video, but it's also augmented the level of cinematography. So, we're seeing much more cinematographic shots rather than just straight ski porn.

All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

CW: How do you think athletes and filmmakers will push boundaries over the next five years?

JS: I see more multiyear film projects in the future. It allows for less regurgitated content and more storytelling. I also think we're going to see more athletes break away from the standard sponsor film format and go film on their own or with their own filmer a la Nimbus Independent. This way, they can be independent of a formula and release edits at any time on any platform.

CW: In a time where anyone can use a GoPro to record an epic run and post clips on YouTube from their iPhone, what do you think is the importance of feature-length ski films?

JS: With the emergence of social media, the pendulum has swung back to where you can notice a distinct difference between amateur filmmakers and professional filmmakers. That being said, more kids are getting their hands on cameras, which is only pushing the pros. Nick Martini and his Stept Productions crew (their film The Eighty Sixis one of four Movie of the Year nominees this year) is a great example.

The Eighty Six Trailer - Stept Productions from Stept Productions on Vimeo.

CW: Was the jump to Park City a move to allow the public into the festivities, or is there more to it? And why during Sundance?

JS: We evaluate things each year and realized launching the show on the first night of Sundance would be a fun, rather congruent thing to do in conjunction with the film festival. We were in Aspen for nine years and wanted to bring the show to a different ski town and grow the show. Selling tickets to the public and giving 100 percent of the sales to a local charity—in this case, the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue—is a way for us to connect with our audience and skiers and promote one of the ultimate joys in life: skiing.

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