Ski filmmaker Greg Stump talks island fever,
procrastination, and hot girls
By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
Greg Stump left an indelible mark
on the ski industry. His films are cult
classics, and some, like “Blizzard of
Aahhh’s,” “Groove Requiem” and “Ptex,
Lies and Duct Tape,” are worth
watching many times over.
A 15-year-old in a 51-year-old body,
Stump can pull off lewd and classy in
the same sentence.
His long-awaited new film, “Legend
of Aahhh’s,” is a look into the history
of the ski film history. Told in Stump’s
unique, quirky and insightful manner,
it’s the story behind the story, according
to ski legend Scot Schmidt.
“If you like Greg Stump movies you’ll
love this one,” Schmidt says.
Emily Stifler: Where did you learn to ski?
Greg Stump: I grew up in Gorham, Maine and
learned to ski on the old railroad bed
behind our house. Dad got us wooden
Penguin skis and we slid down the
slight hill of maybe 15 feet. The next
summer, I piled up old rail ties to increase
the vertical. The local Kiwanis
Club ran a rope tow in Gorham with
150 feet of vertical and lights, where
we skied at night.
ES: Tell me about your career in the ski
GS: I was national freestyle champion
in ‘78, and North American champ
in ’79. Then I started skiing for Dick
Barrymore. [Skiing] for him in “Vagabond
Skiers” in 1979, I saw filmmaking
could be a one-person show…
that was it. I had the bug.
I started making ski movies in 1983,
but I haven’t made a feature film
since “Fistful of Moguls” in ‘99. It got
Scot Schmidt in Russia, we just
escaped getting killed by avalanches
two or three times. Then we had
another close call at Island Lake
Lodge in Canada. I heard Scot and
Craig over the radio, scared. I’m not
a church-going person, but at that
point I made a pact with God, Allah
and the Goddess. I said, ‘If you get
these two guys off this ledge safely, I
quit.’ And that was it.
ES: What’s up with your new film,
“Legend of Aahhh’s?”
GS: It’s a historical look at the ski film
industry from the ‘30s to the present,
with a big emphasis on “Blizzard of
Aahhh’s” and “License to Thrill”—
kind of like “Dog Town and Z Boys”
or “Riding Giants,” but for skiing.
Originally I was going to call it “Snow
White Trash” and make it more
autobiographical. It’s still a thinly
disguised memoir. It’s pretty weird
making a movie about yourself.
ES: Is it a ski movie?
GS: There’s skiing in it, but it’s not ski
porn. I think it’s intelligent and
whimsical. It’s sexy. Funny when
it’s supposed to be funny, sad when
it’s supposed to be sad. I sold it to a
distributor in Hollywood that does
boutique edgy rock and roll type
movies and have had clients like the
Grateful Dead and Rush.
ES: What was it like shooting with
Schmidt in Chamonix?
GS: We were running hot during “Blizzard
of Aahhh’s.” The guaranteed
way to make a bluebird sunny day
is to party hard the night before.
ES: Where do you live?
GS: In Victor, Idaho. I lived in Whistler
in the ‘90s then moved to Maui in
2000. I moved my studio there and
went 13 months with no shoes. I
commuted to Hollywood to direct
crazy stuff like Super Bowl commercials.
Eventually I got island
fever, so I drove around the west
looking for a place I could afford.
It was either a 400 square foot
apartment in Aspen for $400,000,
or eight acres with Teton views
and a crazy studio.
ES: What are you working on now?
GS: Procrastination. I’m working on
a presentation on an infomercial
I’m making with a scientist from
the Steadman Philippon Research
Institute in Vail. It’s about Opedix
Compression Tights, pants that
look like long underwear but have
built-in bio-mechanical wraps
to simulate muscles in the leg
and keep the knees aligned. They
reduce quad fatigue by 40 percent.
And of course [producing music
videos] with Lukas Nelson and
Promise of the Real.
ES: Do you consider yourself an artist?
GS: I didn’t until I was about 35. Then
I went, ‘what the f*** am I?’ I said,
‘just relax, you’re an artist.’ I’m
definitely on my game as far as
editing. That’s my passion—working
post-production. I love live
[music] performance movies. I’m
a decent writer, a pretty good narrator,
and I can hold a camera.
ES: Do you still ski?
GS: I haven’t been skiing much. Working on the film the
last three years was pretty heavy duty. And I hurt my
knee about three years ago. I had Dr. Steadman do
an ACL graft on my left knee last April. So perhaps
Besides, I lived in Whistler for a decade, and I could
walk to the lift. Whistler is like the French Alps. No
offense to Targhee or Jackson, but they’re kind of
boring compared to Whistler. I can see Targhee from
my house but it’s still 45 minutes away. I’d rather
read a book or go cross-country skiing than drive to
ES: Have you skied in Montana?
GS: I skied [and filmed] in the Bridgers in 1990, when
we snow-catted in with Lonnie Ball. I’ve never skied
Big Sky, but enjoyed the Yellowstone Club. Montana
had a lot of nice people. I had a blast in Big Sky.
What’s that bar called… the Blank Stare?
ES: When are you going to show “Legend” in Big Sky?[I’m working with this] major theatrical distribution
company now, and it’s in their hands. I’m sure they’ll
do Big Sky, and if they don’t I’ll come up there myself.
ES: How’s your love life?
GS: I’m dating a drop-dead gorgeous 30-year-old. The
cutest girl I’ve ever met. I’ve gone out with some
beautiful women, and this one takes the cake. I met
her in Hawaii, and we were friends for years. She
doesn’t ski and doesn’t want kids. It’s fantastic.
ES: What’s with Baron Von Stumpy—is that a nickname?
GS: I’m self-anointed royalty. Shouldn’t everybody be? Maybe not… nobility would get so crowded.
This story was first published in the Winter 2011/12 issue of Mountain Outlaw magazine.