Filmmaker focuses on storytelling

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It was his best day of skiing in 27 years on Earth. Michael Martin's descent down Wedge Mountain, the highest mountain in the Garibaldi Provincial Park, came after almost a year of planning and training, and he never wanted to forget it.

So he captured the whole thing on film. He recorded every moment from the time he saw the mountain and decided to ski it in May 2002 to the moment he stepped into his skis April 18.

"The focus of my film is to bring back (storytelling). Ski films now are more about images and sounds. They are so segmented, and it gets boring," Martin said. "I always ask myself, 'Why do I want to see the end of this movie?'

"You need to give the audience a reason to watch it all the way through."

The film "Wedge," that Martin made from his adventure, saves the best skiing for the end.

Wedge Mountain can be reached only by hiking in. No heli skiing is allowed.

The movie follows the skiers as they skin and boot pack their way up the mountain, past and sometimes into huge tree wells that had receded on the spring melt.

"You can see Wedge (Mountain) from every point in Whistler," Martin said. "Everyone has it in their head that they'll ski it someday."

But not everyone does.

"Wedge" will premiere tonight as part of the Steamboat Springs Outdoor Film Festival.

Martin started making amateur ski films in 1995 when he moved to Steamboat Springs to attend Colorado Mountain College. The first film premiered in a friend's basement, with an audience of 15.

"I had a crappy Sony Handycam," Martin said. He edited the film by playing the raw footage on his television and then filmed the segments he wanted to keep. He kept a CD player next to the Handycam microphone to create a soundtrack.

"Needless to say, those early films are not for sale," he said.

" Wedge" will be featured at the Steamboat Springs Outdoor Film Festival along with "City Lights," a snowboarding movie by Jake Carson and "Cure for Boredom," a movie by five Steamboat Springs High School students -- Erik Thomsen, Kyle Wellman, Rory Kriz, Kyle Wilson and Bret Lickteig.

During intermission, audience members will get a chance to view paintings by Damore and photography by Areyh Copa.

"This will be a last locals get-together before the ski season," Martin said. "In a week, you'll be lucky to see your neighbor because you'll be so busy."

Martin hopes that the Steamboat Springs Outdoor Film Festival will become an annual fall tradition to herald the beginning of ski season for locals.

"I want to encourage people to go out and create things," Martin said. "Whether they paint or take photos, have fun with the season."

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