by jim moran
Last week I told you about the tryouts for the movie Aspen Extreme. I also told you how I got the part. Now it’s time for the rest of the story…
The two weeks had passed fast, and it was time to film the movie. I won’t lie, I was scared as hell. I made the trip to Aspen and stayed at a friend’s house. My first day was an interesting one.
I showed up at the set barely knowing which way was up. E.J. was busy, so he told me he would see me later, and to follow the directions of Tom. Tom was a cool guy; he told me to go over and eat something at the food truck, and that he would be right over.
At the food truck, the cooks told me that it was only for the second unit.After a tedious process to confirm my role, they made me whatever I wanted. That made me feel kind of cool.
After I ate, Tom came over and directed me to the hairstylist to get fixed up. The stylist gave me a little dye and a trim. Tom then directed me to go over to wardrobe to get my clothing. I was shocked at the beauty of the wardrobe lady. I ogled as she set me up. Tom then directed me to jump in the limo and head to the mountain.
I finally made it up onto the hill to see that all the directors were still running around and setting everything up. They had a tent set up for the second unit. I was starting to feel kind of special. I grabbed some coffee and waited.
The time for the shoot finally arrived. We were all supposed to be trying out for the Aspen Ski School in a giant bump field. My job was to ski well in order to make Dexter look good in the film. All I had to do was ski a bump field—which was something I did all the time. The person that was playing T.J. was named Scott Kennett. We skied right next to each other and tried to look as good as we could while everyone else skied around us. Scott threw a huge heli-spread, so I decided to throw a big 720. All in all, the run went very well. Like all Hollywood films, they made us do it three times. The film crew was paying me very well, but that was all they wanted me to do that day.
The next day started out the same with the food truck, then makeup, wardrobe, and the limo ride. The shoot was different because I was supposed to be a ski instructor that was teaching a really fat guy. My job was to ski backward holding his tips. He was supposed to be so heavy that I couldn’t deal with it. Then my job was to fall so that he would go out of control, skiing through the streets of Aspen until he hit a car.
This kind of action went on for a few days. We filmed the simple parts like freeskiing shots and the “powder eight finish.” While we weren’t shooting, we might have had a few parties with the actors too.
At the end of the week, EJ came up to me to make a proposal that I could not turn down.
“Jim we really like what you have been doing. We had Scott Schmit and Doug Combs do the Powder 8 sequence up in the Monashees, but a lot of the filming didn’t turn out. We were wondering if you and Scott Kennett would go to Telluride with us to do a few small segments to put the film together.”
I said, “OK E.J., that sounds good to me.”
“I hope you are not afraid of helicopters, because we will have to fly into the backcountry,” he said.
I had never flown in a helicopter before. Not only that, but they would pay me to do it! I agreed and we would meet in Telluride in a week.
I was so excited that the time just flew by. We all were supposed to meet at the Ice House. I did not know it, but this place was the nicest hotel in town. I would get a minimum of $300 per day with a dinner per diem of $40. Every time I got airborne on my skis, it would be another $100. This added up quick. At just barely 19, this was a hell of a lot of money!
Scott was a Telluride local that knew all sorts of girls in town. He set me up on a blind date my first night. We had a blast dancing and drinking all night, but we had an early helicopter ride the next morning. We all called it quits fairly early (or I got shut down; I’ll let you figure that one out).
The next day was a blast! I had more fun flying in the helicopter than skiing powder. They had us hit this small cliff three times, and ski some powder 8’s. I started thinking this was what the rest of my life would be like. Heli rides, big bucks, and Pow Pow all day.
We spent the whole next day acting as the “Vail team” that crashes in the powder 8 contest. The third day was a fun one too. They took up to a steep section of back country to do some more powder 8’s. They also had me throw my heli-ironcross for a different scene in the movie.
Still to this day I love to watch Aspen Extreme. It was at the beginning of my fame in the world of skiing. And that was the easiest money I have ever made. E.J. called me the next winter. He wanted me to do the Schwarzenegger film, “True Lies.” Even though I really loved doing Aspen Extreme, I had to say no. My dedication was in the direction of the Olympics, and nothing would stop me. But it’s still fun to think about.