SOMETHING ELSE INDEED
A quirky backcountry ski movie company finds their following by choosing their own path.
In this first episode of season two of “Westward,” we meet Jonah Howell, co-founder of the backcountry film company Powderwhore Productions, which debuted grassroots ski movies to sold-out crowds from 2005 until 2015.
Jonah Howell and his brother, Noah, never set out to start a business or make money by filming skiing. It was just something they enjoyed doing, a way of capturing their friends on video while they were exploring the backcountry of Utah’s Wasatch Range. They started calling their group of friends “powderwhores,” a name Jonah admits they’d never have chosen had they known it’d become a full-fledged ski movie production company.
But eventually, their little homemade films started selling out theaters in Salt Lake City, then stops at film tours around the country. Powderwhore Productions debuted its first movie in 2005, a low-budget flick that featured exclusively telemark skiing. They never wanted to be TGR or MSP—their movies didn’t have big-name pro skiers, heli-ski budgets, or Red Bull sponsorships. They were filmed in relatable locales like Utah or Wyoming and dirtbaggery was a constant theme. Their 10th—and final—film, which came out in 2015, was called, appropriately “Something Else.”
Along the way, Powderwhore movies dropped the tele-only niche and became backcountry films, a tribute to the quirky culture of those who earn their turns by stepping one foot in front of the other. And when making movies started taking away from their love of backcountry skiing, when it started to feel like an obligation, not a passion, Jonah and Noah decided to call it quits on the movie business and get back to what mattered most: skiing for the love of it.
Here at Flylow, that’s what drew us to Jonah and Noah—we’ve been sponsoring their films and many of their athletes for years now. It was never about making a big, flashy film shot at glitzy resorts and showcasing never-been-done before tricks; it was about friends celebrating a good day in the backcountry, it was about hard-earned turns and the challenge and joy of finding perfect powder. And that’s something we could get on board with.
When the mountains call, you must answer. Or at least that’s what happened to the four characters profiled in the newest season of Flylow’s webisode series, Westward, produced by KGB Productions and now in its second season. Westward follows the life stories of four unique individuals who’ve chosen to forgo traditional lives—like desk jobs in skyscrapers and 9-to-5 commutes—for alternative paths in the mountains. They have ventured out on their own, choosing to risk it all to follow their inexplicable devotion to snow-covered peaks. Through that leap, they have become their own bosses, setting their own destiny and breaking their own trail in a world that’s rugged, wild, and beautifully unknown.