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TV / Video
Whistler/Blackcomb Turns to Storytelling Once Again with the Wonder Reels

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Last year, I was super (massive understatement) impressed with Embedded, the 7-day video series featuring Mike Douglas documenting the arrival of winter from a tiny patrol shack at the top of Whistler/Blackcomb. The campaign was incredibly successful, was picked up by a long line of ski news outlets, and ushered in a strong, Canadian ski season.

This year, the idea is the same but the name has changed to Wonder Reels (the trailer is above).

Now, I’m kind of slow on the draw with this story, news sites picked it up weeks ago, but I don’t want to talk about what it is, I want to talk about why it is. Okay, that’s weird grammar. I simply want to talk about why Whistler would make another round of videos.

The Quote
Back when I first talked about Embedded, Greg Wright over at Freeskier gave me his thoughts on the concept:

“We want more of this. More good content. And good content doesn’t need to be produced by Brain Farm shot from a helicopter on a RED camera. Each of these videos will be shot by one person, edited at night and turned around by the next morning. Every resort out there can afford to do this. And every resort out there has a story to tell. Give us that, and we will endorse it.”

I’ve used that quote a few times to prove the same point: that resorts need to tell their story.

That’s exactly what Whistler/Blackcomb is doing again. This time, it’s in a seven-part series. Only four are mentioned in the trailer:

  • Episode 1: Snow
  • Episode 2: The Pass
  • Episode 4: The Deep
  • Episode 5: The Crossing

Apparently created by Sherpas Cinema, these videos are set to be released throughout the season, starting in October. With hints of behind-the-scenes/inner workings of resort ops combined with great ski footage, something tells me the 21,500 views the Trailer has will quickly be matched.

So, why?
So, getting back to why. I think Whistler made another series because they see their resort differently than most. They have been able to look past the ingrained ideas they have in their heads from living in a resort town and seeing the mountains every day, and been able to see the unique stories that their resort holds.

Snow is fascinating in the way it forms, falls, melts, and is made by snowguns. That’s a story. They have unique features on their mountain like a “Pass” and a massive tram/gondola between two peaks. Those are stories.

There are so many stories inside of every resort. Whistler is finding them and taking the time to make sure they don’t go to waste.

  • I believe Whistler is leading the pack when it comes to great videos from a ski mountain and I'm really looking forward to watching this series as well. Greg Wright's comment that every resort can afford this, I think if you're getting someone as talented as Mike Douglas you'd be looking at a 6 figure bill.

    • They really do create videos that are hard to match. And yes, getting Mike would be expensive, but it doesn\’t necessarily take Mike or any personality unless that\’s what the story calls for. It just takes a story, clear and well told.

    • The fact is we ARE getting someone as talented as Mike Douglas. But I think his rate might have just gone up. :)

  • Steve Krcmar

    Nice post Gregg. Amen to your comment that any resort can do this. It just takes storytelling. Whistler's videos are BEAUTIFUL and this production isn't cheap. But other resorts do not necessarily need the same — the market for bluebird nature shots is supersaturated. Tell a story of the hill, the people, or both, and the film doesn't have to be IMAX ready.

    • "the market for bluebird nature shots is supersaturated." Steve, could not agree with you more. I think that tendency is because ski resorts think they have to entice people away from a beach vacation… (Wouldn't it be better if they just offered all you can drink pina coladas…?)

  • Sounds like I need to raise my prices – definitely not 6 figures involved here! FYI… We (Switchback Entertainment) are producing the Wonder Reels alongside Sherpas Cinema, and don't forget about Origin Design who has masterminded all these campaigns. I agree that most resorts could pull some pretty good stuff together if they are motivated.

    • Thanks, Mike, for clarifying that you aren't milking 6 figures from these campaigns ;) And good to know on the collaboration with Sherpas and Origin. I figured you guys had to be involved and I guess I shouldn't be too surprised Origin had a hand in it as well. Great stuff all around. Nice work.

    • Great to hear Mike we should talk soon. I should clarify, I said 6 figures because that was an actual quote I received for a single video from a different top notch film/editing company. Love your work.

  • Mike, was about to jump in and say, "Hey! Don't forget Switchback Entertainment – they are truly the talent engine behind this suite of videos." Then saw, you were ahead of me already (as usual), and added props to Origin. Thanks. And Gregg, thanks again for spotlighting some of the exciting campaigns we've been able to work on. It's pretty amazing to have a client roster of resorts that believe in visual storytelling (WB – Embedded and The Wonder Reels ) and the passion of their guests/community (Jay – moment{us}), so we can pitch campaigns that are more flavorful than vanilla!

  • Doc

    Jack those prices Mike…lol serious;y though…nice work dude and good job Gregg taking the time to post about the whys associated with Mike's efforts. I'd love to do something like this for Whiteface and if you've ever seen a sunrise up at the summit there, or the castle up there, you'd know why

  • Pingback: The Resort Video Series I’m Most Looking Forward to This Winter : Ski Resort Marketing -

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