By Megan Tackett
Sopris Sun Staff
Every winter junkie loves a good Warren Miller film, but they often enjoy shooting their own adventures even more. Just look at GoPro, which saw 19-percent first-quarter growth this year and a 40-percent uptick in Instagram followers.
“Sunlight had always done its Warren Miller movie night,” said Troy Hawks, sales and marketing director at Sunlight Mountain Resort. “But then I started thinking, ‘why can’t we invite people to submit their own stuff?’” And thus, a movie night evolved into Winter Stoke Film Festival.
Now in its second year, Winter Stoke will feature Miller’s “Line of Descent,” but will also highlight some local scenes — organizers received almost two dozen submissions for the video competition. The rules are simple: submit a video one to three minutes in length that documents outdoor, wintery bliss. “We’ve got a snowmobile edit, which is cool, cause I don’t see [the video competition] as being limited to just ski or snowboard. It could be ice climbing or whatever you’re excited about,” Hawks said.
While Hawks and the Sunlight brand are both obvious advocates of winter fun, neither had much experience in producing a film festival. “I started having a panic attack,” Hawks said of last year’s inaugural undertaking. Fortunately, he said, the resort was already partnering with a Carbondale-based nonprofit, True Media Foundation, for some of its 50th anniversary promotions.
“We’ve always wanted to do a film fest, but we’re a small group,” True Media founder Chris Tribble said. “You need a lot of hands and a lot of heads to pull off something huge, but the idea that started has a really grassroots feel.”
This year’s festival docket originally included events on Nov. 30 at the Vaudeville Revue and Dec. 7 at the Third Street Center, but organizers subsequently announced a third showing at Rifle’s New Ute Theatre on Dec. 21. The Glenwood Springs and Carbondale events will host the video submission competitions, where audiences will vote for the winners.
There are six finalists that will be split between the first two festival screenings, so two winners will ultimately emerge. Each finalist will receive two ski lift tickets to Sunlight, and winners will earn a season pass. Perhaps even more coveted, though, is the prestigious Golden Boot Award.
“It’s kind of like an Oscar,” Hawks said of the golden spray-painted ski boots.
Audiences will also be able to walk away with swag, should members decide to bid on any of the items at the silent auction. And Tribble’s son Auston will be emceeing the events to add to the party vibe, he said.
“I’m really excited about it,” the recent University of Redlands graduate said. “It’s going to give me an opportunity, a unique one, to present myself and share my music.”
Adult tickets are $15 in advance (sunlightmtn.com) and $20 at the door. All proceeds will benefit True Media Foundation, which produces “edutainment” media that fosters a positive social impact. Its education arm works with middle- and high-school aged students to give them hands-on, real-world experience in video production and business.
“As you just start to integrate with all the media, you understand how to create an end product that is worth it, you know? I think it’s really worth it when you dig into what the story is,” Auston said of the organization’s ability to serve as both an educational and creative outlet for youth.
True Media has worked with students in and out of the classroom in an array of programs, from its BE HEARD! livestream talk show to partnering with other local organizations like the Aspen Physics Center for their respective media needs. “Now [students are] learning not only about that nonprofit, but they’re learning about the business and the teamwork it takes to actually do something, to pull something off. It’s real-time stuff,” Chris said.
Now, the Tribbles are planning to take True Media’s show on the road, literally. “We’re building a mobile production unit,” Chris said of the bus that will house video and audio equipment that will allow for easier transportation between schools up and down the Valley.
“We’re very grateful to Sunlight,” Chris said, adding that Winter Stoke’s proceeds will mostly go toward funding the bus. “I think it’s really cool because we are focusing on the Valley, so when you see films, they’re done here. It kind of inspires the person that lives here to do the film.”