Make them say AAHHH: An interview with Greg Stump
Park Rat Tom
on October 15, 2012
Twenty five years after unleashing the ski film "Blizzard Of Aahhh's" (voted the number one ski film of all time by the Ski Channel and Skiing Magazine!), Greg Stump returns to the ski film genre with "Legend Of Aahhh's". From Otto Lang, John Jay, Warren Miller and what the young filmmakers are creating today, "Legend" follows the life of the ski film and its impact on big mountain skiing. Another silky journey down the ski bum highway from Greg Stump.
"Legend of Aahhh's" will screen on Oct. 25th at Brewvies in Salt Lake City. 7:30pm | 9:30pm
For more information, visit http://www.legendofaahhhsmovie.com.
Interview by: Tom Haraden
First off, I just wanted to mention that it's a real honor having the opportunity to interview you. I used to play your films on repeat while hosting at The Rack in Carrabassett Valley. As an aspiring filmmaker from Maine, you are a true inspiration, and I can only hope to one day to produce a film with an ounce of the impact you've had on ski & snowboard culture.
Well gosh thank you Tom! I appreciate the props and I remember when The Rack was The Ski Rack run by Mike Gammon, and I even remember The Ski Rack in Livermore Falls.
I've read that you had a part in "Vagabond Skier" (1979), Dick Barrymore's last ski film. Was this your first experience on camera? How did you two link up?
I met Dick in 1979 in Boston at The Harry Leonard ski show. I had won the USSA National Freestyle Championships the year before, so I was about to turn pro and compete on World Cup. I had been hired by Harry to demonstrate ballet skiing on a revolving carpeted ski deck. I ended up going to dinner with a bunch of people--Barrymore being the guest of honor--so I made sure I sat next to him and pitched him all night long. I was a huge Barrymore fan and was really laying it on heavy... he told me years later that he had already checked me out and I had the job before the night had even started.
Did the fact that it was Barrymore's last film push you to start creating films? How did the camera end up in your hands?
He had not decided that was his last film when we were making it, but I certainly learned by watching him work. He was a one-man film wrecking ball and seeing him work alone, doing everything, gave me the confidence to try.
You and Barrymore seem to both exhibit the same timeless quality in your filming & editing style. Is there anything you learned from Barrymore that stuck with you up until your latest film, "Legend of Ahhh's"?
Yes. Dick had this great sense of storytelling... once he got rolling he'd go on for hours... always funny, always with a punch line and always personal. He integrated that into his filmmaking and it worked. Plus, he was a great skier and understood skiing. Carrying all that camera gear on skis was something few mortals could or can do today. Dick was probably a better skier than 99% of the athletes he filmed. I dedicate "Legend" to him.
Bruce Brown's, The Endless Summer, also comes to mind. Were there any films or filmmakers from the 60's and 70's that you drew inspiration from?
Growing up in Maine, surfing was not my thing until years later; so I did not know about the Bruce Brown stuff until a couple years before "Blizzard". One interesting thing about Bruce Brown is that he was one of Warren MIller's inspirations, and if you listen closely, Warren is totally imitating Bruce. I have a line in "Legend" from Salvador Dali... "immature artists imitate... mature artists steal." So true!
Hot Dog, the movie, your thoughts?
It's cool now, but I hated it when it came out because it portrayed freestylers as a bunch of drug-taking freaks and we were anything but that… The pros were a different story but us amateur kids trained and worked hard. We did not party or do drugs, so the film was a mockery of what we took very seriously. So no I did not like it. Now, it is very funny and I love it.
Tell me a little bit about your involvement with the origins of Boardercross. I've read that you and Steve Rechtschnaffer, Playboy producer extraordinaire, staged the first ever Boardercross event during the final episode of "Greg Stump's World of Extremes" on FOX TV. How did the idea come to fruition?
Steve was always ahead of his time. I've known him since we were both freestyle kids. Steve was more than a producer at Playboy, he was the first marketing director at Swatch in NYC and built that company. My first film job was for Steve shooting then unknown skateboarders Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi and Lance Mountain... so him coming up with Boardercross was no surprise. I really just figured out how to film it, build the sequence in the film, and helped build the course. Which was hilarious by todays standards, but we did it. It was actually for "Groove Requiem: In The Key Of Ski", my 1990 film. We did the FOX show as an afterthought.
When you first set out to start production on a new film, do you have an idea of what you're after, figure it out along the way, or is it a combination of both?
Early on it was 'deal with whatever we got in the can and fashion it into something', but as I gained experience and began to learn what it was I was really doing, I planned ahead. "Legend" was very tightly planned and it shows...
The story-driven nature of your ski films provide an intimate perspective into the world of skiing and snowboarding, whereas contemporary ski & snowboard films are, 9 times out of 10, mere "trick-porn" laid over music. I am definitely guilty of the latter, growing up with that style of filmmaking, and something I'm striving to change in my own work. But how do you differentiate a potentially compelling story from a bust?
A good story is just that... a good story. Sometimes you have to search for it, other times it smacks you in the face. After doing this for over thirty years I think I have learned to see the story coming and harness it into the film.
Anything you'd like to add?
Come out and see "Legend Of Aahhh's" it's really strong. If you've ever seen a ski movie this will keep you glued... audiences have been very positive.
Park Rat - bump gangs
Chinese Downhill - Hot Dog
Neon - Me
Safety Meeting - Dope
The 10% Rule* - hhhmmmm not sure?
*an unwritten rule that the winner of any ski or snowboard contest must donate 10% of their winnings to the after-party.