(Last Updated On: October 27, 2009)
In skiing there is always something to debate. This years hot debate highlights events surrounding the movie Refresh by Level 1 Productions (L1P). The trailer is here:
So, what’s the big deal? Well, the part that they leave out of the trailer is an interview with Warren Miller, the legendary ski film-maker. Warren Miller Entertainment, the company, is suing Level 1 Productions, for use of Warren Miller, the guy, in their movie. WME claims they have the “exclusive right, in perpetuity, in all media, to the name, the personal endorsement, use of voice and the likeness of Warren Miller.”
The situation gets even deeper, though. Most people probably never knew that Warren Miller actually sold his film-making company and trademark name to Warren Miller Entertainment back in 1988. Warren Miller, the guy, continued to narrate the movies and made appearances at shows for many more years- I even saw him in Denver just a few years ago for the latest WME flick. Many Warren Miller fans did notice Miller’s voice waning from the movies that bore his name. Appearances at shows became more and more scarce. And then, Miller’s voice was simply dropped from the movies. Warren Miller disagreed with his own company which he gave birth to himself, and decided to separate himself completely from the monster that WME had become. The interview that Warren Miller offered L1P was Miller’s attempt to get back in touch with the ski film-making industry that he loved.
The ski industry has rallied to support L1P, criticizing WME for picking on the little guy. L1P is still a start-up company that reports profits in the thousands. WME reports profits in the millions.
Regardless, when Warren Miller sold his company, he sold his name, his voice, his life, and his soul. Unfortunately, WME is likely correct in claiming their intellectual property rights against L1P for the use of Warren Miller in their movie. The only way L1P could have courts favor their plea is in a technicality that they used Warren Miller in an interview, not a narration.
But, Warren Miller, the guy, is an honorable man, a stark contrast to the monsterous company he formed. Miller actually filed a “motion to intervene” asking WME to sue him and not L1P. Actions like this demonstrate Warren Miller’s integrity and his dissension with the company that bears his name.
TGR’s Todd Jones claims that L1P is a winner in all of this. Increased publicity will surely help raise profits for future L1P movies. Jones also claims that WME, now surrounded by negative publicity is the loser. While this is likely the case, I find myself wondering about Warren Miller, the guy. What does this mean for him?
The circumstances that surround this event have enlightened many about Miller’s recent life, including myself. I can’t help but feel sorry for the man. Miller sold his name, voice, life and soul years ago to a company that he created and was forced to watch it slowly transform into a near fiend, eventually disconnecting himself from his creation entirely. But, Warren Miller can never completely escape something that bears his name and made him famous. At 86-yrs of age Miller remains determined and desires to still be part of the ski-filming industry. But, he sold his life to the devil-in-disguise years ago. This exchange has now, sadly, caught up with him. It will be interesting to see how events surrounding this case transpire.
Case on Hold– Todd Jones