RIP Warren Miller: From a Skier and Storyteller

When I first heard Warren Miller died, I wanted to go skiing. It seemed appropriate.

My friend and  colleague Julian Williams, a non-skier, was the one who broke the new to me (see his blog on Warren Miller here). But Julian (like myself), is and always will be mesmerized by someone with passion and vision. It is only now in hindsight that I recognize the ways Warren Miller helped influence a good portion of my boyhood life…. Through his quest to share beautiful images of something he loved with all his heart.

My exposure to Warren’s work began when I was in my early teens. By then a decent skier but no where up to the majesty of what Warren brought to the screen.

I even saw him narrate one of his amazing films at a theater in Hartford, CT in person — I had seen his other movies and they inspired me to dream. The imagery was magical … like a large drug trip for the ski and snow addict. And his voice, brought me on a story. At times, laughing and at other times speechless with awe at what he created. The skiers in his movies became my heroes. Scott Schmidt was my favorite, with his leaps off of inconceivably high cliffs. And somehow… he’d not only survive… but ski out of the ridiculous landing.

Berkshire East, Massachusetts — Late 1980’s – does anyone do a daffy anymore?

Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire – Late 1980’s – Steep! Don’t lean back.

Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire – Late 1980’s – I remember those turns like yesterday. Pure Joy!

Doing My Best Scott Schmidt Impression in my mid-teens.
Killington, Vt – lower Cascade — late 1980’s

So now I sit in my home in Florida, miles away from the snow and cold weather, dreaming of my next big snowy adventure, where I will once again go on that spiritual journey for the perfect turn … on the perfect mountain… on the perfect day.

The addiction that I shared with Warren Miller still runs deep. I have even shared it with my kids. Now they look for big air and perfect snow… and every image I capture on a camera or in my mind of them … Warren Miller truly is there … for he helped me dream it well before I could actually do it!

Mad River Glen, VT – Fall Line with my son.

Mad River Glen, VT — top of Catamount with my son.

Ski Sundown, CT — My daughter gets air.

Ski Sundown, CT — My son gets some air.

Killington, VT – top of Cascade with my wife and kids.

Mad River Glen, VT — the old single chairlift at the best mountain in America!



About the Author: Glenn Zimmerman

Glenn has what is best described as “Superhero Syndrome.” His affliction began as a child and has progressed with age.

He got into extreme skiing and extreme sports before they were a thing because every superhero should try flying at least once.

While at Boston University, it was his desire to save the day that brought him to Post- Soviet Russia where he explored the emerging homeless population.

His Syndrome brought him to journalism school at Syracuse University to get his MS in Mass Communications. He later became an award winning reporter with the number one station in Detroit (WXYZ-TV) and with NBC’s flagship station in New York (WNBC- TV).

And, it was the reason he formed the video agency Mad Bear Productions.

With Mad Bear, he harnesses the power of story to help business, non-profits and events engage with their target audience. Video is his tool and he wields it mightily.

Glenn is a sought after speaker on video engagement and mass media.

It is all part of his quest to help save the day, one story at a time.

RIP Warren Miller: Admiration from a Non-Skier

RIP Warren Miller.  If you are unfamiliar with the name, for the better part of 60 years Warren Miller was a prolific peddler of snow and skiing with more joie de vivre than Larry Flint peddling pornography.

Following his release from the army in 1946 Miller set up as a film making ski bum in Sun Valley Idaho, living in a teardrop trailer in the resort parking lot. From 1949 into the new millennium,  he produced one feature length film a year about skiing. He would rent out local theaters in ski towns, often on borrowed cash, and charge admission to that year’s film.
But to say Miller made films about skiing is like saying Ruben painted fat women. Much like the iconic surf movie “Endless Summer”, Miller creates fantasies for fanatic skiers and punters who might never have seen snow in their life.  His other worldly images of skiers carving impossibly sexy curves into virgin slopes at 12,000 feet are complemented by his own droll narration, and musical accompaniment that is singularly definitive of the times in which these films were made.
Miller’s voice brings the terrific writing and storytelling to his productions. It is equal measure poetic as it is unabashedly cornball, and always undercut with a dry wry sense of humor.  On some hand gliders he encountered:
“We wanted to include some more shots of hand gliders but they kept dying.”
On tiny ski town Elko, Nevada. “Everyone in Elko wears pointed cowboy boots, I later learned this was so you could reach the cockroaches in the corners of your hotel room.”
By the 80’s Miller was already a legend in the ski world. He mesmerized loyal enthusiasts and casual viewers alike with bronzed figures, clad in futuristic multicolored ski suits, cavorting down faraway mountains, all goggles and golden hair backlit by the sun, splashes of color bouncing through waist deep snow.
Miller had a huge hand in popularizing back country and heli skiing, introducing his audiences to never before filmed snowscapes and the underground culture of extreme skiing and later snowboarding.  Every film was a carefree expedition into a new frozen wonderland with a group of good looking, care free daredevils.
From Aspen to Zermatt, from Mammoth to Morzine, for 50 years Miller documented the changes in the sport, from stiff long wooden ski’s with primitive bindings, to todays skis that spoil their wearers with space age materials and geometric precision for all kinds of terrain.  He embraced new styles and stars. He brought Freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and extreme everything to the masses. One could argue that Warren Miller was the key contributor in bringing extreme sports to the position they occupy in mainstream culture today.
Do yourself a solid and find some of Warren Miller’s classics.  It doesn’t matter if you live to ski, or like me, don’t ski at all.  Its a bit like watching animal planet, spectacular pictures, tried and true storylines, but the skiers are the animals.


About Julian Williams:

As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the recent royal wedding; Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

The Power of the Preview

They can be the source of angst, excitement, irritation or joy. In no more than two minutes, previews have the ability to make us feel an array of emotions. Video marketers  can learn a lot from a preview.

We are going to use the “Game of Thrones” as an example because our Team at Mad Bear is a big fan. The season trailers are fantastic. Sometimes – as is often the case with movie trailers- the preview is sometimes much better than the show/movie itself.  What do you mean we have to wait a year???

There is big money invested in network television and movies. Much of the success of series or a film, hinges on the handful of 1 to 2- minute movie trailers that promote them. Whenever an industry pours millions into making brief video snapshots as entertaining and persuasive as possible, we’re interested, and we think you should be too.

With that said, here are 3 things we can all learn from previews and trailers.

Make them Feel Something! Maybe its excitement, longing, sadness, desire, camaraderie – what ever it is that drives your point home — make it happen in your video. Figure out how to break down your brand narrative into a mini-story. Are you saving the world by saving customers’ time or money? Are you skyrocketing end-users to career-stardom because of how good they’ll look after buying from you? Or do you want them to feel a thrill so great that they’ll have to go and experience it for themselves? (like in the video below) Our Behind the Scenes Virtual Reality shoot gives viewers just enough of a taste of what they could go and experience for themselves to encourage them to try this new technology. Regardless if they’ve never tried VR before or if they are comfortable in a 360 world, they will be inclined to explore.

Hook ’em! Good trailers don’t open with a whimper—they start with a growl. Suspense-filled music, fog, a curious piece of dialog to spark curiosity. Do the same with your marketing videos, and do it fast. Because unlike a movie theater, marketing videos do NOT have a captive audience. If  your goal is to increase membership to an organization, think about your audience and the type of pace that appeals to them. For the the video below, our Team created a quick sizzle reel for the American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay. So we went with fast-paced and energizing.

Create Anticipation! The goal is to have viewers take action after they watch your video. A trailer hasn’t done its job if you don’t want to actually see the movie afterward. Your marketing video should similarly leave out the best part while hinting at the grand finale. Our goal in the video below was to remind families to sign up for camp and if your daughter has never been to a Girl Scout camp… the video implies “she is missing out”. You could even take it a step further and instead of waiting for your viewer to hopefully buy from you later on, capitalize with a CTA or lead form within the video itself. Any viewer who has made it that far is clearly qualified and interested and it’s time to move them forward in the epic drama of their customer journey!

Marketing lessons are everywhere. Video trailers are all about giving the audience a brief introduction to the ‘product.’ They rely on being short, relevant and engaging. And they combine voice, movement, sound and design to create an audio-visual experience which, if executed correctly, leave the viewer absolutely needing to find out more. Sounds familiar, huh?


About the Author: Roshni Hannon

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

In Video We Trust for Sales

As a salesperson, no matter how long your sales cycle, one of the most important things that you need to build with your buyer is trust. You could argue that getting a deal done without trust is next to impossible. If someone doesn’t trust that you have their best intentions in mind, that you can help them solve their challenges, and that you are an expert in your field, they will not buy from you. Period.

As buyers become more sophisticated and well-researched, maintaining trust throughout your sales funnel is more important than ever. Spammy tactics can kill your credibility and it is nearly impossible to recover from that first impression. The bottom line here is this: modern buyers have higher expectations of the customer experience – they want salespeople to focus on adding value and being helpful.

Leveraging video in your sales process is a game-changing way to build trust, establish authenticity, and strengthen relationships with your buyers and prospects.

Like any relationship you have to start slow.  With a prospect, as opposed to a repeat customer, perhaps you start with social. Maybe connecting on LinkedIn, liking some content and commenting on things. And then your next step, rather than sending an email, imagine the impression a personalized video would make? It would be memorable. And that’s what you want.

Experienced buyers can smell insincerity from their inbox. That’s why our Team often recommends using real employees and no script in order to build that trust.

We call this process “back scripting” because you are really editing back to a script. When done right, you will have multiple ways of creating the “script” however with real, sincere and genuine reactions vs. canned and robotic communications.

You may be thinking: “My buyers are old-school – sending them videos will freak them out or make them feel uncomfortable. This medium won’t resonate with them.” Trust us – if you focus on being thoughtful, adding value and going the extra mile to personalize your content, the responses will be overwhelmingly positive no matter who your buyer is.

Have questions on anything we’ve shared above? Please share in the comments – we’d love to hear your feedback.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.