A filmmaker and legendary skier, surfer and snowboarder, Warren Miller managed to carve out an incredible career for himself by combining his lifelong passions into a profession.
In his teens, Warren Miller’s hobbies included photography, skiing and surfing. But all of those activities were put on hold when, at age 18, he entered the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1946, when his stint in the Navy was over, he became a ski instructor at Idaho’s Sun Valley Ski Resort during the winter. There, he and another instructor used Miller’s 8mm Bell & Howell movie camera to film each other skiing to study and improve their techniques. During the summers, living out of a camper, the two would relocate to California and do similar duties for the surfing crowd.
After private screenings for a few friends and, later, at parties, Miller’s films developed a following, and he began receiving offers to show the movies publicly with accompanying commentary. The success of these presentations led him to upgrade to 16mm and form Warren Miller Entertainment (WME) in 1949, with the goal of producing feature-length documentaries about skiing and surfing. The popularity of the productions turned WME into a long-term organization, which Miller’s son (Kurt) took over in the late 1980s. When Warren Miller died at age 93 in 2019, he was still a popular figure in the sports world.
Made a year after Miller’s death, Ski Bum is a 94 minute tribute to a unique and enterprising individual, including vintage film footage, as well as interviews with family, friends and colleagues. Among those sharing their memories is Ward Baker, who was Miller’s roommate and fellow instructor during the Sun Valley days as the young men divided their time between the surf and the slopes.
Even if winter weather is not your thing, Ski Bum will let you enjoy the action from the comfort of your couch. Grab the remote, and hang on tight!