Once upon a time

It was a warm spring day at Mammoth Mountain in California. The season was winding down, with limited terrain under the gondola open to the public. Off on the closed side of the mountain, away from the crowds, the resort had built a series of massive jumps in order to host a private event called Superpark. The entire affair had been organized by Powder Magazine as a photo shoot and all the big names were there, including the hottest new up and comer, a seventeen-year-old named Tanner Hall.

 

As I made the drive from San Francisco up to Truckee, then down highway 395 to Mammoth, I could hardly believe my luck. Several friends from my ski bumming days in Lake Tahoe, now themselves big name pros, were in on the shoot and had invited me to tag along. I had met Tanner once before, at a ski movie premiere in Los Angeles, but I’d never watched him ski in person. To say I was impressed would be a big understatement. Tanner was launching the jumps bigger than everyone, while doing tricks I’d never seen before. And he was doing it with style. Little could I have foretold, how only a few years later our paths in life would become intertwined.

Trapped behind a desk down in the city, all I could think about was skiing.

My dream was to live and work up in the mountains, but I could never escape the pull of the metropolis. Then one day I received a call from Tanner, asking if I’d be interested in producing his next ski movie. Granted, my experience was limited. After graduating college, I spent a couple winters making ski movies. These were very low budget flicks, but Tanner had seen them and liked them. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I had no other choice than to take it.

People always ask me what it’s like filming with Tanner. To which I reply, it’s like stepping into a ring with a lion. There’s not much you can do to control him; you need to be able to read his temperament and then react fast. Let him dictate the pace and never make him angry. Even then, when you’ve done everything right, you’re still going to get clawed.

 When I accepted Tanner’s offer to work with him, I knew all this. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and I relished the challenge. For three seasons we traveled the globe, and it was indeed a dream come true. But eventually I reached my limit.

 

It wasn’t just that Tanner was difficult.

Creatively there wasn’t any room to grow. Shooting ski action had become repetitive and stale, but Tanner wasn’t interested in anything else. Unfortunately, the collaboration ended. Over the next decade, I only saw him a handful of times. I heard stories and could see the struggle he was going through as he entered middle age. Meanwhile, I had moved into documentaries.

In the back of my mind, I felt Tanner’s story was ripe for the telling. However, I wasn’t sure if he was ready to go that route.

Then one day, two years ago, he hit me up, asking if I’d be interested in making another film. I paused for a bit, because I knew what I’d be getting myself into. I knew I was going to get clawed again. But really, what other choice did I have?

Training for XGames at Buttermilk

Aspen, CO 2006

2004-2005 Season Ad

Boreal Spring 2018

Tanner back on the podium

At the first stop of the FWT Tanner impressed and takes 2nd place

FWT Hakuba Japan 2nd Place

Tokyo 2019

Japan filming for believe 2006

Monashees, 2011

New Zealand, 2012

Japan 2019

Still working on his masterpiece

Finland, 2005

2005/2006 Chads Gap Ad

Pillow Party