Interview by Jeff Schmuck
So you guys have been submerged in your editing cave over the summer and into the fall working on season three of Salomon Freeski TV. How's it been going?
Mike Douglas: It's going good. One of the big challenges when you do something year after year is to keep it fresh and keep it cool while trying to progress professionally, and I think we're doing that this year. At this point in time we're about half way through our production schedule and so far we're really happy with the results. We're going to have a good variety of different content and I think there will be something for everyone. Anyone who's into skiing will be pretty entertained with what we're putting together.
Mike Douglas & Steve Horton
When is the first episode going to be dropping?
Mike Douglas: We're stating October 13th and one of the unique things we do is that we have a set schedule, so it's like watching your favorite TV show. So every Tuesday starting October 13th there'll be a new episode of Salomon Freeski TV for most of the winter.
How many episodes are you guys doing this year?
Mike Douglas: It's going to be at least 20, but we might try to squeeze an extra episode of two in.
Douglas filming Kaya in Mammoth. photo: Scott Markewitz
What are going to be some of the highlights?
Steve Horton: Our ski bum episode, which showcases some guys who aren't sponsored and just love to ski. Our rail show from the Poor Boyz shoot on the East Coast with Martini, Walker and Alexis, which is going to be sick. We did something like 14 rails in seven days, and those guys killed it. And the Korea episode is pretty funny.
Mike Douglas: Yeah I think that one is pretty interesting, because the ski scene there really hasn't developed to the point where it has in North America and Europe, so it's kind of like going back in time a little bit.
You guys seem really focused on going to unique locations, like South Korea, Poland, etc, where like you say the scene hasn't fully developed yet and people don't expect to see this type of skiing, but you still want to tell a story about those areas.
Mike Douglas: Yeah for sure. With 20 episodes and a license to basically do whatever we want one of the things we've talked about in all our meetings is that we didn't want Salomon Freeski TV to be a corporate sell for Salomon. In fact last season the boys at Salomon actually canceled an episode on us, because they simply looked at it and said they felt it was too corporate, which I thought was great. As bummed as I was after putting a week or two of work into it, I was super stoked to hear them step up and tell us that, because that's not what Salomon Freeski TV is all about. It's about driving stoke to skiers everywhere, no matter where you're from. We've got skiers in over 50 different countries watching our episodes right now, which is really cool, because skiing means different things to different people. Like for the kids on Newschoolers that live on the East Coast or the Midwest it's mostly about rails, and people on the West Coast or Europe might be more about big mountain or going to shred in Alaska, so we try to tell the whole ski experience from every point of view. That could be just about going down the road to some tiny little ski hill and having a good session to going somewhere exotic like Poland or Korea or wherever and telling stories from all sorts of different places in the world from every different point of view.
What were the biggest highlights for each of you while you were out there in the wild creating season three?
Mike Douglas: I had two. The first was Alaska. I was up there with Mark Abma and Dane Tudor in Girdwood. And Alaska is one of those places that's tough to hit right, because you can easily go up there a dozen times and only get handful of good days. But we got eight days in the heli this year, and we went up there with the intention of only doing one episode, but we got so much great footage that we decided to do two, so we'll have a part one and two, and they'll both be really cool. And it was really great to be up there with Abma and Dane, because Abma is a guy who's on top of the world right now and Dane is just a kid who is on the rise and so keen, so it was really fun to be up there with them for an old bastard like myself (laughs). And the second highlight was when I spent a month in Europe, because it was the best season they've had in like 25 years, so it was epic. I love traveling around and experiencing skiing in Europe, because it's so different and cool.
Steve Horton: I'd say my trip to Norway and Sweden with MSP and Alexis and Henrik was my biggest highlight. We went there for 12 days and for the first 10 days it was nothing but clouds and rain and we couldn't shoot anything, but then the last two days were perfect. It was bluebird and we had two gorgeous sunsets and the boys threw down some of the most epic skiing I've ever seen.
What episodes do you think people will be most excited to see this season?
Steve Horton: Well for the Newschoolers crowd I think they'll be the most stoked on the East Coast rail show. And the Poland one will be good, because it's a really good behind the scenes look at an urban shoot that was plagued with bad weather and no snow, and how the crew reacted to that.
Mike Douglas: And to follow that up, I feel what Steve was just referencing with the Poland trip is something that we do really well, with showing the behind the scenes aspects of what goes into the Poor Boyz and MSP's of the world movie making process. Because most of the time when you see their films, it's three minutes per segment of the A+ bangers, but there's no behind the scenes story to it. Like for example with Poland, maybe a few of the shots from there will make into Every Day Is A Saturday, but when you see that show, and see the frustration in the crew's eyes and the cops freaking out and Charles being taken away in a police car, to me that's way more interesting than just watching him slide rails. Because it makes me think about the story behind him getting those shots and how much went into it. But for me the episode I'm most excited for people to see is the show we're doing on the history of freeskiing. I don't want to give too much away about it, but it's going to be unlike anything you've seen before on that subject. And we've got another show that's going to be a ski project in Hawaii this winter, which I'm not going to say anything about, but it's going to be really groundbreaking if it goes off the way I hope it does.
Speaking of the movies, correct me if I'm wrong Mike, but it seems like we don't see as much of you in the major ones anymore, so I'm wondering if your involvement and focus on Salomon Freeski TV is the reason for you not being up on the silver screen as much as you use to.
Mike Douglas: Yeah for sure. Salomon Freeski TV has totally renewed my passion for going on ski trips and filming. After doing one ski movie segment or more every year for the last ten years my motivation was really lacking. Not that I didn't like to ski, but it just felt like I was only out there to get the ultimate shot as opposed to taking in the whole ski experience. I'd go to the same places every year to try to get that banger line or cliff drop or trick I didn't get the year before. But now this whole project has made me realize that it's not always about just going to the sickest place to try to get the sickest shot. It's about going and experiencing skiing through different cultures and different points of view and looking at it from a producer's view, which has really got me pumped up.
And Steve, your story is a pretty interesting one, because when a lot of people think about Salomon Freeski TV they just think it's Douglas' project and he does it all, but you're out there all season long filming and are the main editor. How did this all come about for you?
Steve Horton: Well two seasons ago I was the video guy at Momentum, and a friend of mine was talking to Douglas on the glacier and he mentioned that he had just finished season one and was looking for someone to help expand season two. So that fall and into the winter I began sending Mike some emails along with some of my videos and expressed interest in coming on board, and after a couple of emails and phone conversations he offered me a job last summer, which went well, and then he decided to keep me on and suddenly I was traveling around the world filming in all sorts of different locations. So it's been a dream come true for me and I can't thank Mike enough for the opportunity.
Mike Douglas: And we're probably looking for an intern for next summer so if there's any kids out there that are interested let us know!
God help your email inbox (laughs). What are your plans going into shooting season four this winter?
Mike Douglas: Well one of the things we're going to do for season three is to have a few more of what we call 'warm episodes', which means shows that actually happen within the season. Because we launch in the fall, so obviously everything that we release before Christmas was shot the season before or in the summer. But then once Christmas passes we want to do more shows that happen this winter, so that's a direction we're moving forward in. But more than anything our goal is just to keep it fresh, because the last thing we want to be is predictable.
So lastly, this whole videoblog thing is getting crazy and it seems like everyone is doing it now. Jon was really the first person to get it going to give credit where it's certainly due, and then you guys started up not too long afterwards, and now there's Chug Life, Traveling Circus, Just Passing Thru and so many others. But a lot of those videoblogs that are experiencing this surge in popularity, Chug Life in particular, are really raw and unrefined, where you guys are more on the other end of the spectrum, by being a lot more polished. So do you feel it's challenging for you guys to do something so different than Ian, Andy and Will but still cater to the same audience and have them enjoy it just as much?
Mike Douglas: Well the difference between us and someone like Cosco is that we're trying to appeal more to skiers from 10 years old to 70. But one thing we're not trying to do is to water it down and make it generic, like a boring ski show you watch on TV. One of the main things we really try to do is to be authentic with everything we do. We want to have crisp post-production values, but at the same time we want a camera in the car with the guys when the shit is going down. We don't want to water our shows down and make it lame, and I feel like we do a good job of mixing it up. Like with the urban episode, it's a little more raw, but we also do athlete profiles that much more produced, because it's built with years of footage and we're trying to get inside their minds a little bit. And I think one of the cool things about the age of the videoblog is that everyone is offering a little something different, and I'm a big fan of all of them. Especially Jon, because Jon is essentially a news source. Something he did that day gets uploaded that night, and that's great, and it's why I go to his site regularly to check out what's going on his world. And I love Traveling Circus, because it's just two or three guys cruising around in their car, super low budget style, living their dreams. They're coming up with creative ways to do all sorts of things on skis, and I think that's really cool, authentic, and interesting, so I'm a huge fan. And then kind of on the other end of the scale, you've got guys like Nimbus, who are basically putting out these extended-length epic trip segments, which is awesome, because it's like watching half a ski movie. So amidst all that, we're trying to make our place, which is to make shows that are about five minutes long and highly produced. The whole mantra of our show is to give people a reason to sit in their office or at school and dream about skiing all week long after they've seen our latest episode, and make them realize that they just can't wait to get out on the slopes that weekend.
Salomon Freeski TV 2009 Teaser