Greg Stump’s 1988 Blizzard of Aahhhs, often called the greatest ski film ever, inspired a generation of kids to pursue a life on snow. His new film looks at the big picture.
More than two decades after forswearing ski films, Greg Stump has released an autobiographical “rock opera” exploring the history of ski filmmaking and its influences on skiing and mainstream culture. For more information, go to dandeentertainment.com/legend-of-aahhhs.
SKI › What was Blizzard’s greatest influence on ski filmmaking?
GS › It brought pop music into the fray. MTV was brand-new, so this was a big deal, as the youth movement instantly became the film’s audience. And I let the athletes actually talk. “Look! They’re real people!” They were as much a part of the storytelling as the ski action.
SKI › The film is credited with helping to launch the term “extreme” into mainstream culture. Uh, congrats?
GS › I knew there was something special about the movie. But when Glen [Plake] and Scot [Schmidt] appeared on the Today show to promote the film, that was “extreme”’s big breakthrough. Glen was flying his mohawk. I was in the control room, and this old director kept yelling, “You idiots! Zoom in on the guy with the ‘tommyhawk!’ Zoom in!”
SKI › You’ve inspired a generation of filmmakers, and now they’re pushing the action to what some consider recklessness. Are you comfortable with that legacy?
GS › I do feel a responsibility. That’s why I quit making ski films. I knew that eventually somebody was going to die in front of my camera. You can’t stop people from doing what they want to do, but I didn’t want to be part of that. The funny thing is that what we considered extreme back then would be a line that you wouldn’t think twice about taking today. A Salomon marketing executive at the Blizzard premiere said, “You’ve gone too far. This will never work. What can they do next?”
SKI › So what is next?
GS › Legend is my swan song on snow. I want to shoot a comedy.