Josh Berman has been making ski movies for a decade and a half. As the founder of Level 1 Productions, Berman has helped nurture the careers of notable skiers like Tom Wallisch, Henrik Harlaut, Ahmet Dadali, Chris Logan and Parker White. And that's only in the last five years. Go back further and one will find many pro skiers who found ski movie fame in front of a Level 1 camera. For their 2014 release, "Less," Level 1 is welcoming more new faces than ever before. We called up Berman to talk about athlete turnover because of individual projects, a controversial segment featured in last year's "Partly Cloudy" and what to expect in the new film.
XGames.com: Some of the athletes Level 1 has worked with have left the company to pursue their own projects. The pattern looks to be something like, skier works hard, gets opening or closing segment, then leaves to pursue an independent project. How do you handle that turnover?
Josh Berman: It's a blessing and curse. Most of the people we've worked with the longest, who we've had a lot of success working with ... that's all attributed to the fact that we're friends. More than anything else, it's disappointing to not be able to work with the people you love to work with, because that's one of the driving factors behind my passion for what we do. At the same time, Level 1 has always been known for bringing up new talent. When holes open, it's an opportunity to bring fresh faces into the crowd. That's something we were able to do this year.
I've heard athletes say last year's Real Skifi segment rubbed some Level 1 skiers the wrong way. They felt it wasn't on brand with Level 1's reputation for highlighting style in ski film.
The Real Skifi dudes have their own take on skiing. It's not necessarily style-centric, that's not what drives their motivation when they put their skis on. That contrasted to what a lot of our Level 1 athletes focus on when they're skiing and certainly what I focus on when I'm trying to capture skiing. Style is one of the most important things to me. We had a unique opportunity to give Real Skifi a chance to put together a part last year. It didn't fit the Level 1 mold, but it showed kids that we're making the most of what they've got to ski on and having as much or more fun than any other athletes we work with when they're skiing. I stand behind that segment if for no other reason than it was something different.
Every year we see a lot of the same from ski films. Being different has its challenges.
Absolutely. If you can't freshen it up, why are we doing this? Do we want to bore our audiences? No. We're trying to experiment and freshen this thing up. There is no answer. We have a platform where skiers can show people what they've got going on.
What are some of the risks Level 1 took for this year's movie?
The biggest risk we took was opening up the doors to athletes we've never worked with before. If I remember correctly, we've got Will Berman, Khai [Krepala], Sandy [Boville], Shay [Lee] and Magnus [Graner] with full parts. Those are five athletes we've never worked with before with full segments. That's insane. That's a testament to how good they are and how hard they worked.