Maine skiers undoubtedly know the name Greg Stump.

Stump, who grew up in Gorham, became a champion freestyle skier and then one of the most acclaimed ski movie directors in the world, with films such as “License to Thrill” bringing high-flying, risk-taking, extreme skiing into the mainstream.

Now living in Wyoming, Stump is also a commercial and music video director, and will be back in Portland on Saturday to premiere his first ski film in 10 years, “Legend of AAHHH’s.”

The combination autobiography/history of the ski movie shows at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St., at 4 and 8 p.m. General admission to the all-ages show is $16.50.

Stump will be on hand to answer questions and hand out swag (T-shirts, DVDs, etc). All attendees can ski at discounted rates at Shawnee Peak with their admission ticket on Saturday and Sunday.

I spoke recently with Stump via phone from Los Angeles, where he’s working on a final edit of the film. 

How do you construct the “narrative” of a ski film? If it’s all just a succession of extreme stunts, does that become monotonous?

There’s a lot of “ski porn” now (amateur video, bad music, jump after jump after jump). Some say I invented it, which is sort of true. But there is a way to cut a scene so it has the most power. Your editor is so vital. There’s that moment on this one where (editor Brian Denny) and I looked at each other and said, “You know, we just saved the movie.”

 

You were instrumental in the transition from freestyle to extreme skiing. Do you see anything supplanting that, or is extreme as extreme as skiing can (or should) get?

After a while, I had enough knowledge to work in other (genres of) film. My mentor, Dick Barrymore, quit. He saw what French extreme skiers were doing; some of them were getting killed, so he got out. Two of my best friends almost died in an avalanche in Siberia. I got out in 1995.

Now other companies are going way more extreme. Guys have gotten killed making these extreme movies; there are nice young kids in wheelchairs. 

What was your favorite place to ski in Maine?

Pleasant Mountain was our hometown area. I won six national championships in freestyle there. Sugarloaf was always my favorite, but it was more of a special treat. 

What will non-skiers get from “Legend of AAHHH’s?”

Like (the surf documentary) “Riding Giants,” where you didn’t have to know anything about surfing, I tried to make a perfect product that will show in regular cinemas. I’m not sure what genre this movie falls into. It’s a thinly disguised memoir; it’s dialogue driven, talking-head driven, action driven; there are some funny bits.

I think it’s a story about freedom, ultimately. If you’re a skier, I think it’s going to be a really important movie.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 

filed under: