Q&A: Catching up with Nick Martini about the future of Stept Productions
Yesterday, Stept Productions announced via its Instagram account that its 2014 release, Ten and Two, will be the last in a line of 12 annual ski films. As was the case with everyone who heard the news, we were certainly bummed to hear that this year’s movie would be its last, but also excited to see what the future holds for the crew. We caught up with Stept’s co-founder Nick Martini to get the details on the company’s plans for this fall and beyond.
In a recent Instagram post, you guys wrote, “[Ten and Two] marks the final chapter of Stept’s twelve year run of annual ski films.” What exactly did you mean by that?
My brother, Alex, and I began making ski films in 2001, and over the past twelve years we have very slowly grown Stept into the brand that it is today. Our new film, Ten and Two, will be the last in our series of annual ski films; but it also marks the beginning of a new era for us. Starting this fall, we are embarking on a series of new ski and non-ski projects, and viewers can expect to see more skiing from Stept than ever before.
Charlie Owens and Shea Flynn peep shots in Chicago. Photo: Topher Baldwin
What is the state of the ski movie industry today? What are the struggles of putting together a full-length flick for iTunes and/or DVD?
DVD sales are declining as consumers move toward digital distribution platforms, and in turn profit margins are rapidly shrinking. Relying on sponsor funding to fill in the gap has begun to cripple large and small productions alike. In addition, the concept of releasing a film each fall to coincide with pre-winter brand marketing has imposed a rigid schedule that often diminishes creativity. It would be awesome to revisit the production of a feature-length ski film with a different approach somewhere down the line.
What is the future of ski movies?
Since we were young kids growing up on Greg Stump films, we have always been huge fans of creative ski movies. Today, the media landscape has completely changed; the larger brands are shifting their marketing budgets towards short-form content, and athletes are pursuing personal projects. The death of the ski movie has yet to arrive, but the birth of something new has already happened. Looking forward, viewers should be excited to see their favorite athletes and brands create some really unique projects. There is also a misconception that new content will be primarily web-based shorts. I am hopeful that we will also see longer projects that are shot over several years.
What was the crew’s season like? What other projects were you working on?
In the lead up to the Olympics, there was a huge demand for winter sports content. Alex, Isaac Sokol and I traveled to most of the big events to shoot with Torin [Yater-Wallace, Simon [Dumont], Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and other Olympic hopefuls. We ended up shooting ABM’s whole winter for Oakley, and the three-part series coming this fall is some of my favorite stuff from last winter. Cam Riley headed up the movie crew and spent the year traveling around North America with Shea [Flynn], Charlie [Owens], Sean [Jordan] and Clayton [Vila]. The footage we captured of Clayton will be used for his new film Five, which is going to be a really cool piece. In the spring, we continued working on the new film, and partnered up with Poor Boyz Productions and Teton Gravity Research for a few commercial projects.
Nick Martini on location. Photo: Topher Baldwin
While I was skiing in the PBP and TGR films, I was mentored by Johnny Decesare and Todd Jones who both taught me a ton about the film business. The marketing teams from the brands who sponsored me have also taught me so much and are great connections to have. Most importantly, the other skiers I have become friends with have been the biggest support. If an athlete has a vision for a piece of media, I have always loved helping out.
What is in store for Stept next year?
Next year, Stept will be shooting more than ever. All the boys are skiing so well and they each have their own big plans. Nothing is set in stone, but we’re excited to do something fresh and new. Our riders have always helped shoot, edit and produce the films, so they are super keyed-in to the process. As the web gets over saturated with video, brands are getting more creative and have some awesome concepts. We are excited to help execute those.
Can you give us details on Ten and Two?
Ten and Two is different than our previous films in many ways. The movie tells the story of our winter, in parallel to a story of our late friend Tom Warnick. The mood of the film is a lot lighter than last year’s, and the small crew makes for an in-depth look at their lifestyle. Our international tour will kick off with the world premiere in Montreal at iF3 and the rest of the dates can be found on our website. The film is also now available for preorder and will be shipped on the September 23rd. We will be releasing a trailer soon.