Words and Photos: Karl Weatherly

Winter’s Wind [Watch trailer here: http://www.powdermag.com/stories/matt-herriger-and-winters-wind/] premiered March 15 at the inaugural Sun Valley Film Festival. Festival director Dana Sabina Plasse told me she was “nervous and took a real chance on this film” because it was to kick off the festival with two showings, both of which in turn sold out with standing room only left for the flood of fans.

Winter’s Wind is not ski porn or even a so-called ski movie. It is a movie about Matty “Moo” Herriger’s life philosophy and artistic vision. His philosophy seems to be live each day to its fullest and appreciate each day for the gift that it is, so when your life is near it’s end, you will have no regrets or fear of death. You don’t have to be a skier to love this movie. Even though this film celebrates the lifestyle of a lifetime ski bum it is basically about freedom and being true to oneself and not selling out to the “man.” Being a ski bum is a mindset, a celebration of life, and not chasing the almighty dollar. I’ve been a ski bum my entire adult life and this film moved my soul.

In 1997, Matt, who was a consistent top 10 competitor on the world extreme ski contest circuit, met fellow ski competitor Dean Cummings. They became road friends, so when Dean started the process of setting up his H2O Alaska heli ski operation, he asked Matt to come on as a guide. The legendary skier and cinematographer Tom Day told him not to take the job and said, “You’re more of an artist.” Anyone who knows Tom or Dean know that they are consummate professionals, so Matty took these offerings to heart. This was Herriger’s trigger that put him on the artistic path.

After shooting for many years for Teton Gravity Research, Matty was frustrated by the formulaic style of ski movies and the pressure from producers “to get the grab shot.” While working lead camera on TGR’s 2001 release Mind the Addiction, he met ski film star Micah Black and moved in with him. Micah says they became “like brothers” and clearly Micah was also an inspiration for Winter’s Wind. Micah’s role in the movie is without a single line but his presence is very strong both in his super confident and stylish skiing and general persona.

Moo took 10 years to bring his unique artistic vision to the screen and considers Winter’s Wind the antithesis of ski porn. He showed his friend Daniel Burgess, the North American distributor for Stockli Skis, the rough cut of the short and Daniel said “let’s go do it.” Without Daniel as the executive producer of the movie, this film would never have been made and he’s the one person who gave Matt the nudge to complete it. Additionally, Sara Hjorts constant support throughout the process also made this film a reality. Matt likens his movie to “‘Old Yeller on steroids” and notes that the most enjoyable aspect of the filmmaking process was “working with his crew.”

Vincent Van Gogh, Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan are Matty’s disparate artistic inspirations. He’s happy with the end product although he struggled to make it the perfect length. His message in the film is to “get out there and manifest your dreams, come with me and shine on.” The film is a mix of footage that was shot on location all over the world and footage from his early days as a TGR cinematographer. Tom Day contributed the beauty shots and time lapses. Vintage footage came from Gary Bigham’s historical archives.

The buzz surrounding the premiere of Winter’s Wind was clearly positive. Everyone I spoke with loved the film and the ski lift conversations regarding the film went on for days in Sun Valley. If you breathe, it’s hard not to be moved by this movie. The after party, sponsored by Verde Media Group at Whiskey Jacques was packed, and Matt and friends brought the East Coast band The Aerolites to Sun Valley as well as the famous and very popular DJ Logic.

If you want to see the film soon you may have to wait unless you can get yourself to a film festival. “I have some disgruntled fans asking when they can check out the film,” says Moo while adding that he is negotiating with business investors and playing the film festival game. “Lots of rules,” he says. But he plans on submitting the film to such film festivals as Telluride, Cannes, and Banff.

For a story about the making of Winter’s Wind by Global Editor Matt Hansen and movie trailer, go here.