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Bode Miller Flying Downhill

Bode Miller Flying Downhill Interview

Bode Miller is all New Hampshire – opinionated, independent, hard-working, but just as determined to enjoy life. Okay, maybe he’s got a little California in him too. Independent filmmaker Bill Rogers has captured the Bode spirit and story in a documentary film. We couldn’t slow Bode down for an interview, but we got the next best thing.



More NH Films 

Bode Miller on covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK the same week! 
Not bad for a NH boy.

Bode Miller on Newsweek coverBode Miller on TIME CoverThis film is good cinema no matter what you think about skiing. Movie producer-writer-cameraman-editor Bill Rogers has been working on it for seven years, as Bode Miller has climbed to the top of the world of skiing. Flying Downhill is more than an action sports film. Rogers is fascinated by the man himself and how his origin as the son of hippie NH parents, inspired his sense of self and forged a very different kind of sports hero. Bode Miller thinks for himself and acts out what he thinks. His straightforward honest talk recently landed him in the headlines after an appearance on ’60 Minutes". When the supposedly unbiased TV news show exploited a 10-second comment by Miller, he saw, once again, that the higher you go, the harder it is to trust anyone. That’s why this film is very special. Bode Miller trusts Bill Rogers and that faith has been returned in this professional, yet candid look at an irreverent NH figure, who just happens to among the fastest humans on earth. Miller is also the topic of a the book BODE: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun by Jack McEnany.-- JDR

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Your family bought their skiing cottage from Bode Miller’s grandparents. Was that how the film started?

Filmmaker William C Rogers
In essence, yes. The seeds were in my parents relationship to Bode's grandparents, Jack and Peg Kenney. Jack and Peg brought my mom and dad together by providing a place for my dad to pay for a room in a lodge and for my mom to work. It was the life that Jack and Peg presented that was so compelling. But before I could create the film Flying Downhill with Bode, I had to grow up, learn how to make movies and raise a few bucks to finance the operation.

Jack and Peg's business plan, however, was a little sketchy. Their success and failure was never a foregone conclusion. They seemed always on the edge of the creditor's call. But they made it, helped, in part by moving from a ski lodge in a place with irregular snow, to a tennis camp, with a better chance of sun, or at least enough days without rain to hit the balls.
So this was a film idea even before Bode Miller came along?

Xdance award, best biography 2006I had long been interested in making a film about those people who went to the mountains and the ideals and realities they lived with. Because they are ideals and realities that are deep in me, too. I grew up in the suburbs and the land from Jack and Peg was for a vacation cabin. Though my dad and mom followed a different plan, the notion of following your aspirations to live the life you really, REALLY want is deep in me. I believe it is deep in all of us. I believe it is an American ideal of finding your place in the world by blazing your own path, not based on those who came before, but because you sense it is your journey, your mission.

But making a film about a family who moves to the mountains is as tough to sell as it is to make. It was when Bode returned as a young ski talent from the Olympics in Japan that the project was born. In a moment I conceptualized the film as following Bode on his journey to compete with the best skiers in the world at the Olympics in 2002. I saw that the film could tell the story of a young man on a journey to try and do something very big in the process of bridging together racing action with the ideals of following your convictions. Sure Thoreau was good, but could he win the race? The related question then, as it is today, will Bode stand or fall, will he win or lose and what does that say about the world we all inhabit?
Was it difficult to get Bode Miller to go along with the film idea from a small independent film company?

I asked him and he said -- sure.
How did you get this film off the ground financially?

It began as a project of "my" non-profit film organization, Coruway Film Institute. It began seven and a half years ago upon Bode's return from the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. I say "my" in quotes because a non-profit organization is not owned or controlled by any one person. We have a board who makes decisions. Our purpose is to educate the public in the process of making films about people relating to their environment. Our motto is "celebrating the human spirit." it's vague, but I believe it. We are creating work that tells us about how we tick, and I see that this plays out in our relationship with place and one another.

Though Bode is now a major commercial force – he's a spring-loaded billboard for many products – when I began the project he was just a kid who knew he could do something. He embodied the notion of Coruway – he did celebrate the human spirit by trying to do something big from a place that was quiet and austere. Bode, growing up without electricity and plumbing, but coming to challenge the very center of a sport, was a perfect Coruway subject.

Then came the 2002 Olympics and success. Two silver medals. An appearance on the Tonight Show. At this time the film still wasn't quite done. We needed more funds to edit. As Bode got more lucrative logos on his sleeve, the film’s commercial prospects grew too. We realized that the project might have life beyond telling a good and interesting story. It was becoming possible that many, many people might actually purchase and/or go out to see the film. This brought us from benefactors to potential investors. Benefactors put funds in because they believe something serves a good purpose, while investors put money in because they think they might get some money back.

CONTINUE with Interview about Bode Miller

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