True Grit Productions

I’m very honored and excited that “Dog Days” has been invited to screen at the Ishpeming International Film Fest. The event will take place on Friday, April 4th at 8:30pm. Screenings are at the Prospector Theatre in Park City, Utah.

This will be a pre-release screening as I am still working on music and a few image permissions. It’s a free event and hopefully many of the pioneers of freestyle will be in attendance. There’s a great line up of films and lots of skiing history events going on throughout the week. If you are in the area, be sure to check it out.

Wayne Wong photo courtesy of Barry Stott

I’m very honored and excited that “Dog Days” has been invited to screen at the Ishpeming International Film Fest. The event will take place on Friday, April 4th at 8:30pm. Screenings are at the Prospector Theatre in Park City, Utah.

This will be a pre-release screening as I am still working on music and a few image permissions. It’s a free event and hopefully many of the pioneers of freestyle will be in attendance. There’s a great line up of films and lots of skiing history events going on throughout the week. If you are in the area, be sure to check it out.

Wayne Wong photo courtesy of Barry Stott


THIS IS GONNA BE GOOD. THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE SPORT WE ALL LOVE. THANK YOU True Grit Productions FOR MAKING THIS.

Tanner Hall’s Facebook Page

I had reposted the trailer and noticed a huge amount of views in a short period of time (over 3000). This post along with shout outs from filmmaker Eric Iberg has certainly boosted traffic and interest in the story of the spirit that freestyle is rooted in from the younger generation. Big time thanks!!


Hot Dog! Almost 500 likes. Thanks everyone for following the progress of this project!! The film is almost to the point where we can start reaching out to potential sponsors or an Exec. Producer to help with finishing costs (ideally with some music from the era). Thanks so much to everyone following, commenting and encouraging!Poster by local Graphic Artist Phil Rose and photography by Stott Shots who I’m so excited to be sharing never before released photos from.

Hot Dog! Almost 500 likes. Thanks everyone for following the progress of this project!! The film is almost to the point where we can start reaching out to potential sponsors or an Exec. Producer to help with finishing costs (ideally with some music from the era). Thanks so much to everyone following, commenting and encouraging!

Poster by local Graphic Artist Phil Rose and photography by Stott Shots who I’m so excited to be sharing never before released photos from.


An incredible gathering of freestyle pioneers, who entertained, wowed and inspired us back in the day. What a fantastic opportunity to have this story published in Skiing Heritage and record the story of the start up of the sport as told by those who created it.
An incredible gathering of freestyle pioneers, who entertained, wowed and inspired us back in the day. What a fantastic opportunity to have this story published in Skiing Heritage and record the story of the start up of the sport as told by those who created it.


Project Update-Post Production

It’s hard to believe that four years ago when I considered making a documentary to pay tribute to the small group of skiers and organizers that started freestyle competitions in the United States that four years later, I would still be at it, trying to complete my first full length documentary. What an adventure and lesson in perseverance it has been.

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It started with the thought of making a short documentary on the First Annual National Championship of Exhibition Skiing that occurred at Waterville Valley on March 8th, 1971. Having just been laid off due to budget cuts from my job as a school counselor, I was looking to get back into filmmaking and take a breather after years of youth service work. I had skied with my childhood hero, Wayne Wong, every Summer throughout my high school years as a camper at Toni Sailer Ski Camp on Whistler Mountain. I knew the story of his flying, hitch hiking and taking a bus to participate in the historic first competition that was the blueprint for a new sport born in America. I was also surprised when searching the internet back in 2009 that there was very little information and history on my heros of the first era of freestyle.

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After a few phone calls and having the privilege of recording an interview with Wayne in 2010, he encouraged me to expand the project to tell the story of the birth and evolution of freestyle skiing. Then it seemed like a daunting but exciting task. As kids, we were inspired and tried to emulate the legendary pioneers of freestyle, then thrilling, skilled, 20-year old free-spirits of a new sport they were building. What a dream come true to meet and interview heros like Bob Theobald, John Clendenin, Scott Brooksbank and Eddie Ferguson. It was the spirit they embodied and expressed in film and magazines that captivated me. I really had little knowledge of the competitions, standings or individual personalities.

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While this journey of making “Dog Days,” has been a discovery of that history as told by those who created and shaped the sport, it is really the story of the spirit that freestyle is rooted in. That has always been my intention and my tool to keep the story focused. Wayne told me from the start when I had doubts to expand the story beyond the Waterville contest that because my reference is from the kid the original band of pioneers inspired, it made me an ideal story teller.

Well, I’m proud to have recorded over 30 hours of interviews with 32 of the pioneers and promotors of freestyle. The production name True Grit is in honor of the Waterville run chosen for the first contest where ballet/stunts, aerials and free-style(moguls) were incorporated in a single run. It also stands for the character of the skiers and the required attitude to make documentaries. The bulk of my interviews were recorded over two years from Jan. 2010-Dec. 2011. I completed the first draft of the story last Summer, editing those 30-hours down to 90-minutes.

Because of my rehire as a full-time counselor and work as a youth mental health counselor, this has been a long but committed process. Also, I have done everything out of pocket to date. Last Fall, I took out a loan to pay for an excellent local director, Caleb Young to come on as a producer and help me put together an edit to submit to mountain film festivals and ski shows. I am in a situation now though that I will be doing some fundraising and possible sponsor approaches to help pay for finishing costs. While, I am not expecting or motivated by any profit other than the satisfaction of  completing the project and paying homage to the original group of pioneers who started the sport, I’m being mindful to do the best I can to reach an audience.

There are so many stories within this story and what I have just scratches the surface. I’m psyched that other projects are underway with Christian Dietzel’s “Lords of Freestyle” and Chuck Boone and John Clendenin working to rerelease the classic “Winter Equinox.” Chuck has done an outstanding job in restoring the original cut and what an honor to watch in Sun Valley and be supportive of each other’s efforts. Also, what a gift to be featuring some incredible archival footage and photos from Barry Stott, ski resorts, magazines, personal collections, Joe Jay Jalbert, Dick Barrymore, and John Jay. We are still working on more permissions and hope that this project also serves as a gallery and promotion for the audience to discover/rediscover these classic works.

Caleb and I are working hard to get that first rough cut done. I am extremely thankful for the support and encouragement of the group of Freestyle Legends who have been so helpful in helping me attempt to present their story. Besides the one hour documentary, I am honored to have recorded the many hours to preserve an oral history of the start up of freestyle skiing in America. 

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Great Skiing cover shot of freestyle pioneer, John Clendenin. As one of Barrymore’s original K2 Performers, an innovator and showman on the revolving ski dek and a top competitor/performer in all four freestyle events (ballet, moguls, aerials and the overall), J.C. is a key figure in the story of the birth and boom of freestyle skiing. 
I’m very excited and honored to be able to feature images from Ski and Skiing in the documentary. For me, the hot dog/freestyle images and articles in these magazines sparked an excitement to go out onto the slopes and try and emulate my heros of the day (Wong, Ferguson, Brooksbank, Clendenin and the host of original hot doggers).
Dog Days of Winter tells the story of those first few years of hot dog or exhibition skiing when it was as much about spectacle as sport.

Great Skiing cover shot of freestyle pioneer, John Clendenin. As one of Barrymore’s original K2 Performers, an innovator and showman on the revolving ski dek and a top competitor/performer in all four freestyle events (ballet, moguls, aerials and the overall), J.C. is a key figure in the story of the birth and boom of freestyle skiing. 

I’m very excited and honored to be able to feature images from Ski and Skiing in the documentary. For me, the hot dog/freestyle images and articles in these magazines sparked an excitement to go out onto the slopes and try and emulate my heros of the day (Wong, Ferguson, Brooksbank, Clendenin and the host of original hot doggers).

Dog Days of Winter tells the story of those first few years of hot dog or exhibition skiing when it was as much about spectacle as sport.


A short snippet of raw footage from my interview with freestyle pioneer and filmmaker, Stanley Larsen. Here, he talks about his inspiration to get into freestyle before it organized into a sport. Like so many I had the privilege to interview, it was films like “Ski The Outer Limits” and “The Performers” that sparked the imagination and generated an energy that would lead to the birth of freestyle in America.

Thanks to Caleb Young for operating the camera and joining me on the shoot. Archival footage used with permission from Dick Barrymore’s films.


Project Update-Visit to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

Last week, I had the great opportunity to venture to Ishpeming, MI and pay a visit to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. A huge thanks to Tom West and Bob Hendrickson for supporting the documentary and my research efforts. A key focus of my visit was to view the outstanding John Jay collection that spans an amazing 50 decades of skiing. We are hopeful that we will be able to include some of John Jay’s classic footage along with images from Dick Barrymore, Summit Films, Joe Jay Jalbert, Barry Stott, Vail, Sun Valley, Waterville Valley, skiers personal collections and hopefully the classic film of the ‘74 tour, Winter Equinox. I couldn’t be more delighted to showcase some of the greatest images of the early days of freestyle as those who created and shaped the sport tell the story of the birth of a sport in America.

It was also an honor to help support the Hall’s preparation to pay tribute to freestyle pioneer and ski icon, Wayne Wong’s upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame. What better way to work on “Dog Days” then to be back in my home state, being surrounded by an amazing collection of ski history and nice folks to support my efforts and get to eat Pastys. Hope I will be able to return again some day soon!

Congratulations Wayne!! Amazing Cover shot by Scott Nelson (1972)


Finally-something about my sport !

I grew up in western Massachusetts during the early 70’s and was on the Bousquet Freestyle Team. We competed with other ski areas ( Mass., New York, Vermont, etc.) Had to put up with a lot of grief and friction from the racers and ski patrol. Was much like what skateboarders had to go through in the early 80’s. Glad to see this project is happening and can’t wait to see it.


Thanks to Sakeus Bankson and all the good folks at The Ski Journal for the most appreciated write up. It’s an honor to be featured in such an outstanding publication.

Thanks to Sakeus Bankson and all the good folks at The Ski Journal for the most appreciated write up. It’s an honor to be featured in such an outstanding publication.


Here’s a sneak peek at our first attempt at a trailer for the story of the start up of freestyle skiing in America. My 75-minute first rough cut from interviews is now looking to become a one hour broadcast length documentary. Thanks to Jim Murphy for helping with the music! Also, working with a partner the past three months has been a great experience and wonderful decision for the project. Thanks Caleb! We are about 40-minutes into the first rough cut. Lots of work to go: getting the archival footage, adding an interview or two and hoping to find some additional funding to pay for a song or two, visual effects and getting everything looking and sounding as good as possible.

So thankful for everyone’s support and encouragement!


Project Update

Well, here I am in 2013, three years into the project. “Dog Days” continues to be a low budget (a big reason for the slow pace since I need to keep my full time paying job), first time, independent feature documentary. I never could have imagined the adventure and task I got myself into when my decision to make a short documentary on the first organized freestyle (exhibition skiing) event in March of 1971 at Waterville Valley quickly expanded into presenting the story of the spirit that freestyle is rooted in and the original group who got things started. While the history of freestyle lends itself to a much larger story, I’ve kept to the focus of the birth and initial boom of the first years of loose organization, 1971-1974. One of the key questions I asked the pioneers from that era that I was so fortunate to interview was what defined the essence, relationships and spirit that the sport is rooted in (what is the “free” in freestyle). What factors created the template for freestyle and what factors impacted the original intent? 

Stott Shot of Wild Bill O’Leary finishing his ballet run with style and finesse at the ‘74 Championships. Fun, innovation and “Look at me!” were a big part of that original template which the sport grew from.

My one New Year’s resolution is to complete The Dog Days of Winter in 2013. I’ve been fortunate to receive a small loan (as far as filmmaking goes) to block out time for a young, talented local filmmaker (Caleb Young) who has been very generous in his consultations the past year to help me finish the edit. This has allowed me to keep things moving and at a higher level, while I do my daily work in the school counseling world and let Caleb work on the project at Handcrank Films where he is a director. I’ve appreciated this partnership greatly and we hope to have a few trailers/teasers to post soon.

“Dog Days” is very fortunate to have Caleb’s dedicated partnership as an editor and producer. Caleb Young graduated from Western Washington University in 2005 with a BA in Creative-Writing/English and Minor in Film and founded LAB Films-NW. Since then, Caleb has produced, directed and/or lensed 5 independent feature films, 11 short films, and several music videos, receiving several Official Selections and Awards.

It would also be a dream come true to get some funding to pay for licensing a few classic rock songs from the era and visual effects/titles to take the edit to the next level.

I can’t tell you how much the support and encouragement from friends, families, freestylers and fans of the spectacle turned sport has meant to me.

Thank You & Happy New Year!!


Pioneers of Freestyle, Image of the Day

Barry Stott (Stott Shots) captures Mike Williams at Vail flying through the moguls back at the dawn of the sport. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to feature Barry’s incredible photography in the “Dog Days” production.


Pioneers of Freestyle, Image of the Day

Suzy Chafee graces the cover of The Ski Journal in this beautiful Peter Miller photo. A great annual Photobook edition with a section devoted to the 70’s and some classic images of the Pioneers. 


PROJECT UPDATE
Finishing my first rough cut for Act One which celebrates some of the key people and events that set the stage for the birth of organized freestyle. Stein was certainly mentioned in more than a few of my interviews. These poles look as long as the ones Bob Howard would amaze crowds with some 30-years later.

PROJECT UPDATE

Finishing my first rough cut for Act One which celebrates some of the key people and events that set the stage for the birth of organized freestyle. Stein was certainly mentioned in more than a few of my interviews. These poles look as long as the ones Bob Howard would amaze crowds with some 30-years later.