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The Truth: Johnny Decesare on Circuits, Movies, and More

On beach life, movie making, and jealousy.
By Jason Daley
posted: 12/19/2008

In 1994, Johnny Decesare, a skier on the Bud Pro Mogul circuit, was laid up with an injury and frustrated that ski movies featured so little freestyle. So he picked up a camera, and two years later his company, Poor Boyz Productions, released its first film, Fade to Black. Since then, Decesare’s work, including Ski Porn, War, the freestyle classic Degenerates, and his new movie Reasons, broke the mold for what a ski film could be, launched a dozen professional ski careers, and helped usher in the new-school era.

I lived on the beach all my life, and when I was about 10 I fell in love with skiing from watching Wide World of Sports. I convinced my parents to take me to ski areas north of L.A. A few years later, after moving to Colorado, I was on the Pro Mogul tour.

Being a pro skier was an absolute dream. The fact that I did that for a living was awesome. I spent more money than I ever made, and I bartended and waited tables for all those years. But it was the best time of my entire life.

I fell in love with freestyle, but most movies didn’t have it at all. So I decided to start making ski films.

I made my first movie way back when, in 1994. It took two years to make. I had absolutely no money. I got my first and only credit card and spent six years paying it back. But that $10,000 went a long way.

In the beginning I was jealous. I wanted to do everything the skiers in my films were doing. But I took to making films and now I like watching the skiers do their thing. I wouldn’t do what they do.

At the last ski-film festival, there were 18 movies. You couldn’t tell the amateurs from the professionals. It all looked amazing. But I’m never scared of the new kid coming up. The more films out there, the better for all of us.

Lots of kids that are into filming go through the same grinds that others have gone through. But times have changed and our sport is getting bigger, deservedly so. Young filmmakers get rewarded now. They have learned to make movies and use their cameras to their fullest potential. But I’m not jaded by it whatsoever.

Young filmmakers who are striving to be better and have questions can just call me.

The thing is, when you make a movie of the magnitude we made this year, it wears everyone to the bone. But next year we want to be the first in the ski industry to make a true two-year supermovie and give it a little time to create more tricks and develop personalities. It’s a big gamble.

We come up with 100 movie titles randomly and usually say, “That’s stupid.” At first I thought Ski Porn was the worst title ever. Now I think it’s the best title ever.

I live half the year in Redondo Beach, California, and half the year in Colombia, where my wife is from. And I make ski films. I don’t know how it all works. But it does.

- SKIING MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2009

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