Jossi Wells, New Zealand’s top freestyle skier, is an accidental star in the latest release from winter movie-making legend Warren Miller.
Eighteen-year-old Wells of Wanaka takes winning international comps in his stride, but news of his appearance in Children of Winter came as a shock.
Although one of the film’s 16 segments tracks Wells jibbing with eight newschool alpine athletes, he didn’t know of his screen part till last month when a friend alerted him.
“I was filming in Austria for two weeks for Nike last year and apparently that’s what was used – I had no idea about it,” says Wells, Nippon Big Air champ in Japan and silver medallist at the US Open Big Air in 2009, as well as World Superpipe champ in Utah last year.
A call to California-based action film-makers Poor Boyz Productions – which has been filming Wells for two years – cleared things up. Poor Boyz, which produces feature-length films as well as shorts, has been swapping footage with Warren Miller Entertainment for several years.
Children of Winter’s grom segment comes from a 2008 Poor Boyz film called Reasons shot backcountry in St Anton, Austria, Poor Boyz production manager Cody Carter says.
“Different film companies will trade different footage but the only time stuff is actually used double is with us and Warren Miller,” he says.
Both companies just forgot to tell Wells, the only Kiwi in both films.
The screen double-header is a coup for Wells, who learned to ski at Cardrona Alpine Resort – where his parents worked – alongside brothers Byron, Beau-James and Jackson.
Wells will ride half-pipe and slopestyle at the Winter Games in August.
Poor Boyz works with stellar skiers including Shane Szocs, Jon Olsson and Andy Mahre, and is known for discovering talent. Wells, the sole Kiwi on their books, is “a shining star” who’s getting bigger, Carter says.
Children of Winter is billed as the largest action sports film on the planet – tracking 62 athletes catching big air across five countries.
It’s Miller’s 59th movie in more than half a century in the industry. Miller, now 85, began filming his mates skiing and surfing, and soon found there was a market for his homemade flicks. He started Warren Miller Entertainment in 1949.
Skiers Chris Anthony – a Miller regular, Pep Fujas and young boarder Ben Watts are some of the athletes to look out for on screen. Radiohead, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Beck provide the sounds.
Miller no longer owns the firm carrying his name but he continued until recently as narrator and creative director on the feature-length ski films released each winter.