The 2009 Reader Poll Winner Weighs In on the Powder Video Awards
Words: John Stifter
Seth Morrison charges. But it's not just on snow. We interrupted the 35 year old, who has finished first or second in all nine Powder Reader Polls, from elk hunting. Yes, the big-mountain savant has been charging the mountains of southwest Colorado searching for those horned creatures for sport and game.
In between hunting and waiting to see if he and his friend could get an extra license tag, he chatted about the last nine years of the Powder Video Awards and Reader Poll and the evolution of ski cinematography in anticipation for the 10th annual Powder Awards. Morrison has finished first in the Reader Poll six times in addition to filming with ski film stalwarts MSP Films and TGR during his 15-year film career. Although he may be learning a new trade in hunting, he knows skiing and ski cinematography inside and out. And in turn, here's a snippet of ski history as Mr. Morrison talks ten years of the Powder Video Awards and Reader Poll in anticipation for the 10th edition held in Aspen, Colorado, on January 30, 2010.
Powder: Do you remember the first few years of the Powder Awards?
Seth Morrison: I didn't attend the first few years because they were in Las Vegas during the trade show. I went to the last year of the show while it was in Vegas since other people were losing my awards or dropping them during the evening.
Powder: From your one time in Vegas to all the times you've attended in Aspen, how has the show evolved in your mind?
Seth: It's become more difficult to win an award, that's for sure. The level of skiing gets better every year and other people are stepping up. Whereas the show in Vegas was really big in a bigger space, the shows in Aspen are more intimate and full of people that really want to be there rather than a trade-show setting.
Powder: When you're up in Alaska or wherever scouting lines and airs, do you ever think that a particular line or cliff could win a Powder Award, like Best Line or Best Natural Air?
Seth: Two years ago up in Alaska with Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa], I definitely thought about the PVAs for him. Those were Best Line-style zones.
Powder: Any specific moments at the show stand out to you more than others through the years?
Seth: It was pretty fun when Tanner [Hall] had his entourage dudes with him up on stage two years ago. It was pretty classic when he had all those reggae dudes around him at a ski awards show. It made it seem like something you'd see in the movies or the MTV Music Awards or something. Tanner would win something and ten dudes would go up on stage with him, so that was different and cool to see even though they weren't part of the award.
Powder: As a member of the 30-person expert panel that votes on the nominees for all 14 categories, how do you see the Awards legitimizing the sport and the accomplishments of the athletes and filmmakers?
Seth: It's definitely something that needs to exist within the sport. It definitely doesn't receive the hype in or outside the industry that it deserves. I like how you guys included a feature story on the Awards (October 2009 issue, "The Chosen"), so that people know that they're involved with the voting and it's not just for the industry. There's so much crossover in the sport now with park and big mountains that it's really hard to judge and compare all the talent. They almost deserve their own category of awards.
Powder: What's your favorite award?
Seth: I like Full Throttle because it means you're given 'er. The Best Male or Female Performance is one thing, but Full Throttle is, I think, just as prestigious. The best male or female athlete has done more than the Full Throttle winner, but maybe the Full Throttle winner put it more on the line. You're not going to give the Full Throttle award to someone splatting the landing off a huge cliff or something.
Powder: Would you ever award or vote a park or urban kid to win the Full Throttle award?
Seth: It depends what it is, I guess. It would definitely have to be something that people haven't seen.
Powder: Since you've been involved as a skier with ski cinematography for over 15 years, what are your thoughts on where ski film is at today?
Seth: The editing and technology, in general, are much better. You can do things a lot faster with the editing programs. People have acquired more money from sponsors and they're able to get the cameras they need and dedicate their efforts to one format, whether it's super 16mm or 16mm or HD video cameras. And now, people are trying to implement a lot of the Hollywood type of things with jib arms, dollies and cable cams. The production value is simply getting better. Also, it seems now that every film company has a dedicated spring park shoot.
Powder: Can you name one thing that you would like to see change in ski movies?
Seth: The ski porno vibe needs to end. There needs to be a story, rather than skiing set to music with the same interviews of "Here we are in blah, blah and the snow is sick!" There's more to it than that and it gets lost. Warren Miller has always tried to do that, but it's cheesy. You can see everybody's formula and it's always the same for the most part.
Powder: We have to ask: What's your favorite ski movie of all time?
Seth: I'm sure everybody says it, but it has to be Blizzard of Aahhh's. That's the one. I was just watching it the other day. I also wish I could track down those earlier RAP films, like Into the Snow Zone. Those ones definitely had more of the cutting edge skiing. I remember that one windlip session with Trace Worthington and Chip Milner and all those dudes and they were doing screamin' seamen backscratchers and shit and crazy peniciled-out 1080s. I probably saw that when I was 16 or something and that was mind-boggling to me in comparison to the only freestyle skiing I got to watch on TV.
Powder: One last thing to say to the readers?
Seth: The winner's fate is in your hands...Although I think Shane is gonna win.