A&E » Arts

Matchstick stakes new “Claim”

Company takes ski film to new heights, while getting back to an old-school attitude



What: CLAIM Premiere

When: Sunday, Sept. 14, doors at 8 p.m.

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Tickets: $15

With the summer slowly fading away, the thoughts of many in this diehard ski town are turning towards the upcoming winter season. And what better way to get stoked on a fresh season of powder than a brand-new ski flick?

Steve Winter is executive producer and one of the founding fathers of Matchstick Productions (MSP), an institution in the ski film industry. He launched the company back in 1991 with co-owner Murray Wais.

“It was really for a love of skiing and traveling around the world,” Winter conceded. “At first, it was more about skiing than it was about filmmaking.”

But fundamentally Winter and Wais were on a mission to make skiing cool again. In the early ‘90s, the world of skiing was totally different from the one we know today.

“Really, skiing in that era was not supercool, it was more the rich person’s sport,” Winter explained. “There was a lot of DayGlo, and it wasn’t really that cool.”

The two novice filmmakers were inspired by Greg Stump’s projects to inject a hipper feeling into their movies using music and other elements. It wasn’t an easy feat.

“The ski industry didn’t support it at all,” Winter said, adding that marketing people in the industry during that time didn’t care about making the sport appealing to kids. “They were all about the rich people buying Bogner suits and whatever else. They could care less.”

“…They just wanted to groom (kids) into being the next rich Bogner wearers,” Winter said with a chuckle, “They didn’t really care about the image of the sport.”

It wasn’t until the hip new sister sport of snowboarding appeared on the horizon that the ski industry decided to try and appeal to the next generation of winter sport enthusiasts.

“Snowboarding, I believe, saved the ski industry. Because what happened is when snowboarding came along, they came along with so much of a cooler image. And not just out on the hill, their style, but the lifestyle – the clothes they wore and everything else – and it started digging into the pockets of the ski industry people,” Winter said.