Steamboat debuts film festival

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Filmmaker Mike Martin had an idea last year to show off his work and the work of several friends. He threw together a "film festival" of amateur footage and watched in amazement as the seats filled. This year, the Steamboat Mountain Film Festival not only enlisted the help of Warren Miller and the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., but plans are in the works to turn Martin's idea into a real three-day film festival, complete with daytime filmmaking workshops.

This year's film festival focuses on outdoor recreation footage, but next year's event will be more inclusive, Martin said.

The Steamboat Mountain Film Festival sent out a call for people to enter their outdoor recreation footage by Oct. 15. Films had to be shot recently, mostly in the Steamboat area and involve some sort of outdoor recreation. Film length was limited to 35 minutes.

Ten filmmakers sent in their work to be judged by a panel from Warren Miller Entertainment. Three filmmakers were chosen to screen their work tonight as part of the Steamboat Mountain Film Festival -- Mike Martin, Jason Berman and Dave Genchi.

Films will be shown in a random order. After each has been shown, first, second and third places will be awarded. The first-place winner will receive $1,000 and a chance to work on the 2006 Warren Miller production.

Martin entered his continuation of the 1993 Greg Stump film "P-tex, Lies and Duct Tape."

"I saw that film at a transitional time in my life," Martin said. "Seeing that film encouraged me to move to move to Steamboat Springs. It encouraged me to make films, which eventually led to organizing a film festival."

Martin's film features several Steamboat skiers --Tim Widner, Max Damore, Christian Gratton and Seth Mathey. The film is shot on digital video primarily in Steamboat with additional footage from Jackson Hole,Wyo., Taos, N.M., and Whistler, Canada.

"It tells the story behind the skiers and how they got to where they are -- living in a ski town," Martin said. "It's about what motivated them to choose the seasonal worker way of life."

While Martin's camera follows a few seasonal workers, Dave Genchi turns the camera on himself as a seasonal worker.

Genchi's film, shot on digital video, is about his experience last winter as a photographer for Steamboat Powdercats. The film is 22 minutes long.

"There are a lot of great pictures of Steamboat backcountry and the ski area," Powdercats manager Kent Vertrees said. "There are a lot of shots using fisheye lenses and some helmet camera video and still pictures.

"There's a section in there about how he broke five cameras, including mine."

Berman, a junior at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and Film, came to Steamboat last summer with a crew of fellow film students to shoot a 17-minute film about Buddy Werner. The film is shot on Super 16mm and features actor Eli Craig as a young Buddy Werner.

The film will be used as an undergraduate thesis for Berman and fellow student, Mike Jensen. It also will be used as a calling card to find funding for a feature length film about Werner's life.

Berman and Jensen also submitted their film to the Sundance Film Festival.

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