Ski Movie Review: TGR’s “Make Believe”
Let’s face it… 2020 has been rough. But if you are a skier or rider, the upcoming ski season (and ski movie Fall tour) is one of the few bright spots you are probably really looking forward to.
I would argue that skiing (or snowboarding) is the most fun you can have during a long, snowy winter. Don’t believe me? Try floating and slashing in a foot fresh powder without smiling. Yeah – it’s pretty much impossible to not have a huge grin on your face!
Sliding downhill at speed keeps you active, fit, and is a great way to spend time with your family. It’s also a fantastic way to naturally socially distance, but still spend time with others in the safety of the outdoors. Safety bonus: we all wear masks because of the cold. Seems like a great fit for the weird world of 2020!
Not into skiing yet? It’s never too late to start! Read our best tips on teaching your kids to ski.
We make an annual tradition to see at least one ski movie, from TGR, Warren Miller, Matchstick Productions, Unicorn Picnic, etc. The Fall ski movie film tour circuit is a great way to get into the mood for winter, especially when there can be a long wait for ski resorts to open as they build up a base of snow!
I wasn’t lucky enough to start skiing until I was in my 20s, so I didn’t grow up with family traditions like ski movies, waxing nights, Pray-for-Snow parties, and scoping out gear at ski swaps. I’m certainly making up for lost time, and our family is absolutely a winter-sports one!
Our little boy has been on skis since the time he could walk. Naturally, now that he is old enough to sit through (most of) a ski movie, we decided this would be the winter to get him started on the winter-is-coming festivities.
Until the pandemic decided to spoil our fun.
Ski movie tours are traditionally rowdy affairs: packed auditoriums, cheering for athletes (always loudest for the local ones!), hooting and hollering at the craziest stunts, schwag giveaways, and partying both pre- and post-show. It’s energizing and fun, but NOT social-distancing friendly, at all.
Well TGR had the perfect solution to meet the moment. They decided to take their film tour to drive-in movie theaters across the country. Even if you don’t see a ski movie, heading to the drive-in for a movie is a fantastic way to spend time outside with your family during this strange year.
TGR was kind enough to let me and my family attend Teton Gravity Research’s new ski film, “Make Believe,” for the premiere here in Bozeman, MT at the Starlite Drive-in. I wasn’t totally sure how that would feel, without the crowded, crazy environment, but it ended up being just as much fun.
While all the prize giveaways are virtual this year, the crowds were still there. Our early show (7pm) here in Bozeman was sold out.
The great thing about the drive-in is that groups and families can still watch the show together, outdoors or in cars, and at a safe distance. Some folks brought comfortable lawn chairs, others watched from the back of their trucks. Kids can run around and wiggle when needed.
We opted to watch from the front seat of the car, with a sleeping bag set up in the back for our 3 year-old.
There was still plenty of hooting and hollering during our show, with the added bonus of cars honking with joy. There was a food truck available for concessions, but we just packed our own little cooler and popcorn. The sound was piped into the car via FM Radio, but we could also easily hear it from all the other vehicles around us.
A few tips for watching a movie at a drive-in:
- Wash your windows, inside and out before you go. Big smudges will really stand out in the dark.
- Pack a bag of snacks, popcorn, and drinks (if allowed at your local theater).
- Crack the windows, so your car doesn’t steam up from everyone breathing.
- Bring blankets or sleeping bags, so everyone stays warm and cozy while the car is turned off.
- Consider bringing something that lights up for your kids (necklaces, glow sticks, etc).
- Bring a few “alternate” activities to keep your younger kids busy, in case they lose focus on the movie.
- Bring a mask and hand sanitizer, for those inevitable bathroom breaks.
- If it’s a late show, be sure to put your kids PJ’s on beforehand, so you can put them right in bed when you get home. In fact, adults can wear PJs too!
TGR’s 25th Anniversary Ski Movie: “Make Believe”
Teton Gravity Research is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year, so this film was a long-gestating one. Featuring some of the most progressive professional skiers and snowboarders in the world, the action is impressive, the cinematography excellent, and the wanderlust it will give you is real! (And of course, the soundtrack is brilliant this year!)
If you love skiing or riding, you’ll find yourself ready to suit up and boot up the second the film stops rolling.
As usual, with TGR films, the story is a loose collection of segments with a common thread. The theme of “Make Believe” is examining what helped these athletes to dream big dreams about getting to the next level, or doing something no one else had tried. How they turn their “Make Believe” into reality.
This year’s film has some particularly impressive POV camera footage. Skiing down steep and deep pillow lines in the Selkirks of Canada was absolutely thrilling. There’s also some intense moments through POV footage of a skier who survived an avalanche and full-burial for 5 minutes. It was a great reminder to assess risks and be prepared for anything in avalanche country.
This year’s film was also incredibly family-friendly, featuring 13 year-old Kai Jones in several of the segments. If he wasn’t shorter than the other athletes, you would never guess Kai was just a kid because his talent is so immense.
It’s pretty inspiring to see him working hard to land new tricks, and when he does, calling his mom to share the excitement.
Kai, in particular, will serve as a great reminder to your own kids that with hard work, dedication, perseverance, and patience, they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. As I tell my son, “practice makes awesome”… and Kai was pretty awesome.
With any ski movie, including this one, I always find myself wishing they would feature more female skiers and riders, so women don’t feel like an afterthought. There’s plenty of talented women out there! While there has been progress in the action sports film industry, there’s still a ways to go.
“Make Believe” certainly didn’t break the mold in this regard, but did prominently feature two female skiers, with Caite Zeliff in Jackson, WY coming in as the highlight of this film for me. Seeing her go as big as the guys, even while injured (she took a knee to the face on a big landing) was the big “Go Girl!” moment of the film.
Like 99% of ski movies, “Make Believe” has some very mild language (I only caught one F-bomb), but I thought on the whole it was a very appropriate film for kids, even the younger ones.
My 3-year old loved it and had huge eyes watching all the skiers, making it about halfway through the film before he eventually turned to other entertainment in back of the car (which is another reason drive-ins are perfect for watching movies with your small kids).
Seeing a ski movie like “Make Believe” at the drive-thru movie theater was a really enjoyable experience. We had a wonderful time, and my little guy has been asking me every day if we can go skiing now. It’s a great way to celebrate the upcoming snow season, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. I sense a new family tradition coming on!
Teton Gravity Research did provide us movie tickets to review this film, but as always, all opinions are my own.
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