Ski movie fans might not know it, but the title of each season’s film at Warren Miller is far from a final touch, conjured up after all the travel and shredding wraps up. The title, actually chosen before filming even starts, provides the skeletal structure around which to build the stories that will make up the movie. That is a lot to ask from a few words, or often, just one.
In order to link all the deep powder, big mountain lines, exotic mountain ranges, and athlete personalities into a good story, the footage has to start with a central theme. “We analyze the annual film title and process more than I’d like to admit, working from a pool of ideas and confirming the title prior to the upcoming film production cycle,” said Max Bervy Jr., managing director of WME.
This year, the name for the 64th feature film – Ticket to Ride – was thrown out for consideration on a whim, by director and principle cinematographer Chris Patterson. “I was watching ‘Polar Express’ with my five-year old, and the little boy in the movie has a golden train ticket, which another character in the film calls a ‘ticket to ride.’ When I googled the phrase, I found the video for the Beatles song with the same name, that was filmed on the ski slopes of Austria,” explains Chris. “So I threw it out at our meeting, but I didn’t think it would catch on, it seems almost too catchy.”
That, however, was not the case. “Ticket to Ride got consensus from our group relatively quickly,” said producer Josh Haskins. “It’s important to have the production team buy into the title in order to execute the title concept in the field, in the editing suite or while writing the narrative.”
Editor Kim Schneider, principle director/cameramen Chris Patterson and Tom Day, associate producer Shannon Umetani, screen writer Micah Abrams, producer Josh Haskins and managing director Max Bervy work through the vetting process as a group. When they narrow it down to the top options, they take it to the marketing team for the go ahead. “The film title has to make sense to our fans and create an interest to attend the film. The title provides a premise for what our audience can expect thematically,” says Max.
This year, Ticket to Ride will investigate the initial ticket to success for the athletes, among other things: what was the event that set their careers in motion, ultimately giving them the opportunity to be in WME films. “To me, there is the obvious lift, train, plane, bus ticket that takes us somewhere,” said Chris. “But a “ticket to ride” can be a metaphor for opportunity in life that can apply to any thing, not just skiing or snowboarding: how do you use your Ticket to Ride?”