This film is a peek into a college student’s life, choosing skiing above all while simultaneously studying for tests and turning in their homework on time. They humbly claim they aren’t professional skiers, but most of them have skied for decades; they grew up in ski towns where the chairlift was only a walk away. There are no names or credits in this movie, just shots of some epic skiing. Cedar Palmer Films spent the ski season capturing the skiing, the traveling and the bond this group of students and skiers have together when it’s a bluebird day.
The film is directed by Cedar Palmer, a 23-year-old filmmaker who studied film production at University of Colorado Boulder and graduated from the university in 2021. The producer, twenty-two-year-old Finn Bailis, graduated from CU Boulder in spring 2022 and grew up with Cedar in Telluride, Colorado.
“Cedar just kind of came into my house one day and said we’re making a movie,” said Wyatt Minor, a twenty-one-year-old senior at CU Boulder who helped market the film and grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho. All three of them ski throughout the film and have over twenty years of experience with the sport.
Palmer possesses a deep love for skiing and the ski community and has been toying with the idea of making a film for some time.
“When I graduated, we always wanted to make a ski film for full-time college students, but we dropped the ball on that and were all in different places,” he said. “When we made it, it still encapsulates that none of us are pro skiers but just a bunch of people that love skiing. We didn’t really have pro skiers, it’s just clips of us doing it ourselves.”
They posted a Kickstarter last fall to help with production costs but it wasn’t enough to fund the movie.“We thought we would make more money on it than we did but we ended up funding it almost all ourselves and paying for the trips,” Bailis said. “We thanked everyone who donated, but [we only had] probably 10% of the money we needed to make the film off the funding.”
Bailis and Palmer’s vision began to come together going to a college in a town like Boulder, where students come specifically for skiing.
“We went to college and had a huge crew of kids who were good at skiing, just not quite good enough for it to be their life and they cared about other things like school and sports,” Bailis said. “At that point in college Cedar and I thought it would be cool to make a ski movie together and ski together. We all put skiing above everything else and we were still able to go to school whereas a lot of other ski movies are just about [professional] skiers.”
They showed their dedication to the project by balancing school, finding time to film and catching a bus to the mountain early in the morning.
“We have a lot of clips of us doing homework on airplanes and cars and stuff,” Bailis said.
Minor and Bailis said that among lots of memorable experiences while shooting the documentary, two stood out the most.
“Everyone flew from Boulder to Vermont to come meet us because we were trying to film a part there and everybody pulled up and the airline lost every single bag that everyone brought. That was pretty funny, and Finn lost a drone within five seconds of flying it,” Minor said.
Although this story would have probably stressed out most college kids filming a movie, the trio laugh about it now.
“We planned the biggest trip for us to go to Switzerland and we showed up and had none of our gear and the snow was awful and it cost us all thousands of dollars,” Bailis said. “To tie it all up my truck got stolen recently with all the footage from Switzerland. This just happens though; you plan trips and things don’t work out sometimes.”
Palmer explained that he wanted the audience to take away the real heart that college skiers have for their sport.
“I’d say it’s a unique perspective on skiing from real people, there’s no motivation from companies or money,” said Palmer. “Big-time ski movies have companies paying them to use their athletes, so this is just raw and how we wanted to show skiing.”
“The Dean’s List” is an unfiltered look into a bunch of skiers who prioritize skiing above all else. It premieres at the Boulder Fox Theatre on Sept. 30 and tickets are available here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ashley Henderson at email@example.com.