Co-Founder Todd Jones of Teton Gravity Research took some time out of his busy days to speak to us about their creation of projects, success and the future of filming in snow sports.
SIA’s Tom Davis (TD): What do you contribute to the succes of Teton Gravity Research (TGR) within the action sports world?
TGR’s Todd Jones (TJ): Over the last ten years we have transitioned TGR from being a production company to a true media company. We have always strived to make sure that our content is of the highest quality out there. That is a combination of equipment, filming techniques and storytelling. As a media company we specialize in distribution of content. Our focus has been on owning our own channel, tetongravity.com and our film tours, as well as building out other robust distribution channels and partnerships in television, streaming, physical, and digital. It’s one thing to create great content, it’s a whole other thing to know how to distribute that content. We have spent a significant amount of time understanding who are audience is, where they are and what they want. When you have the ability to consistently reach people with your content you ultimately have the tools to be successful on a repeatable basis. We spend a lot of time in the future trying to analyze and understand where the media space is going. Things are changing very fast right now and you really need to have an open mind to be able to keep up with it. We test lots of new models and markets to make sure we are staying on the cutting edge of the media and content landscape. I think our success comes from not being afraid to take chances and from the drive to be on the cutting edge of media distribution.
TD: How are the concepts for your film projects developed? Team/staff effort? Athlete driven? All the above?
TJ: It is hard to think in terms of just film these days. Our projects involve hundreds of individual pieces of content, some of which have a film component to them. TGR has always had a team mentality and is very collaborative. We work with our entire team, including athletes when it comes to creative. Concept inception can really come from anywhere within our company.
TD: You guys continue to innovate and push the envelope when it comes to video/film looks. Where do you see the action sports films going in the future?
TJ: It’s a fun time to be in the content space right now. We refer to our work as digital cinema. The technology available to create content these days is amazing. TGR continues to invest in and help develop some of the more cutting edge camera systems in the world. It’s amazing to be able to work with companies like Sony Action Cam, DJI, and Gyro Stabilized Systems and give them input and feedback on their equipment. We have really been trying to bring the highest level of film making into the action sports space. This takes more time and is a slower process than working fast and nimble, but the end results show. It’s an interesting question to address where action sports films are going in the future. I think one of the big differentiators is in storytelling. It is much harder to tell a compelling story than to capture amazing footage. I think we are seeing more and more interesting stories come out of the action sports space these days. There is also a big separation growing between web-based content and big feature films. The feature length films that are being created these days need to be on a whole different level than webisodes and short form content. The films that succeed today and in the future ultimately have the biggest impact on the audience. They create the deepest touch point and connection with people and this is where the true value lies in content. How much impact did it have on someone? That’s what is important and that’s what people will see in the future.
TD: What project(s) is TGR working on right now?
TJ: We are working on a ton of different projects right now. We have two snow films in post-production that will be released this fall. We’re touring our Mountain Bike film that we worked with Anthill films on and are in the middle of production on a documentary film on the life of pro surfer Andy Irons.
(Bruce Irons, Todd Jones in Jackson Hole, WY)
We have two television series that are about to go into production and then a ton of short form content that is being created and have also been spending a ton of time working on tetongravity.com and turning that into one of the premier year round action sports destinations in the space. Needless to say we are very busy right now and it seems to be only ramping up.
TD: You’ve been attending our Snow Show since 1998 – Why do you keep coming back?
TJ: We have actually been going to the Snow Show since 1996. The Snow Show for us is a great place to connect with all of our friends and partners in the industry. For one week a year it becomes the epicenter of the snow universe and the place to see all the new gear, trends and future in the industry.