Jim Conway has over 25 years experience as a guide and athlete in the big mountains. He has worked extensively in Alaska, but also Canada, Europe, and most of the western US. You would have a hard time finding anyone with more safety and production experience. As a former top extreme skier himself, Jim has a unique understanding of the athletes and what drives them. Working with crews large and small, Jim has a proven track record balancing risk with production goals.
Jim Conway's experience in winter sports film making began in front of the camera as an athlete for Warren Miller, Greg Stump, RAP Films, TGR and many others. As he transitioned into a heli ski guide after years of descents (many of them firsts) in the mountains around Valdez, Alaska, he began to specialize in guiding film crews.
His first experience as a guide for film crews started with a Warren Miller shot in Valdez. This was the first time a ski film crew took a helicopter and went into the mountains and started selecting, analyzing, and descending big first descents for film. It was this first experienced that stimulated Jim to start to develop a system to effectively mange the multitude of risks associated with this style of filming, while at the same time facilitating athlete and production objectives.
This Warren Miller project was soon follwed by a list of snowboard and ski production companies needing a complete risk management program for thier big mountain film productions. Early clients included Standard Films during the making of Totally Board 5, 6 and 7. It also included bigger budget projects such as "Secret Island" for the German production company Heli Ventures.
Jim continued to work on both sides of the camera through the nineties, including work on Hollywood Pictures feature film "Aspen Extreme". In addition he worked with the BBC, NBC, CBS and Fox Networks.
In the early 90's Jim accepted a position as lead guide and safety director for Teton Gravity Research. It was during this period that Jim created Glissemedia and began to focus on a definitive risk management program for big moutain and extreme winter sports film making.
With the support of the management team at TGR, Jim refined and created a system to consistently mitigate risk in the extreme mountainous terrain of Alaska and Canada. The entire workflow was integrated into a comprehensive system including: reconnaissance, emergency preparation, emeregency response, avalanche forcasting, aviation safety, and athlete and crew readiness and training.
The organization required to create this risk management quickly revealed itself to increase productivity in the field when conditions were right. During this period TGR managed to effectively manage thier risks while simultaneously becomming one fo the most productive companies in its category.
Expanding on this Jim introduced a crew and athlete training program that delivers guide level technical mountain training in first aid, rescue and avalanche forecasting. These "Pro Rider Workshops" continue today and Glissemedia now provides them for other film companies and industry partners.
At Glissemedia we have worked with a number of production companies on sports action films, commercials, and feature films:
1999 - 2013
Lead Guide and Avalanche Forecaster
Lead guide on steep heli skiing locations all over Alaska and Canada. These locations were very remote and some had never seen heli ski or film operations before. Duties included:
Developed risk management plans and protocols for heli shoots and other foreign venues. Ensured locations had proper risk management, rescue and communications assets in place.
Acquired permits from state and federal land managers. Negotiated helicopter contracts and piloting staff. Organized local accommodations and travel. Tracked costs and expenses for TGR and athlete billing.
Safety Training Supervisor
Developed the International Pro Rider Workshop program. Now nationally recognized, this program is a 3 to 4 day annual course that trains athletes and production teams in avalanche safety, rescue, wilderness first aid, and technical rope work.
1994 - 1996 and 2013 - 2014
Jim Conway was talent in 6 ski segments for 3 films in the 90's, including the ground breaking segment in Valdez, Alaska where he skied the first Descent of the "Shower Curtain" (a 60 degree spine wall). More recently Glissemedia has put on Pro Rider Workshops for their production teams covering avalanche safety, rescue, and first aid. Also guided crew in Valdez Alaska in 2014.
Safety and field producer for two commercial spots that aired during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Both night shoots at Brighton and Park City Resorts in Utah.
First Assistant Director, Field Producer, and Safety Director on second unit for Nissan Pathfinder commercial. Heli based shoot with Sage Catebrigga-Alosa and Jeremy Jones at Hatcher Pass Alaska.
Field Producer and Safety Officer for reality based snowboard competition at Jackson Hole Wyoming, featuring Travis Rice. Also responsible for construction of rider features in high alpine locations.
Glissemedia hesitates to call it guiding as it is a far more interactive experience than simple guiding. The needs of athletes and production crew must be balanced with safety, production considerations, and the productions companies level of risk tolerance. This consulting service can cover everything from pre-production planning through project execution, completion and billing.
Few avalanche professionals have Jim's experience or success mitigating avalanche hazard in big mountain environments. No one has Jim's experience guiding forecasting for extreme terrain. With his engineering background, formal avalanche training, and extensive experience in Alaska and Canada (over 20 years) Jim has the decision making background key to a successful and safe production.
Snowsports filmmaking, especially in the more extreme locations, by necessity requires a smaller and more specialized crew. An assistant director's first responsibility is safety, it is a natural role for someone with Jim's broad background to assume the role of AD, freeing up the Director and/or Cinematographer to focus on their creative priorities.
Glissemedia has a full rescue kit customized to fit into a standard side compartment of a A-Star as350 helicopter. This kit allows for immediate response to emergencies in the field. Our kit includes and portable toboggan, spine splint, trauma kit, O2 kit, AED, high angle rescue kit, and survival bag.
Glissemedia can provide a number of resources to plan a winter project from feasibility through permitting. Using a number of sources from aerial photography, satellite imagery, local knowledge, and land management resources Glissemedia can help determine not only whether a location is feasible, but also what time of the year would be best to achieve production goals. Once on location Glissemedia has the technical capability to map and geo-tag using fixed wing recon flights. This process saves time and allows for for detailed production planning. Once selected we can work with the appropriate land managers to successfully complete the often detailed permitting process. We can also work with local lodging and aviation assets securing services and negotiating contracts.
Salt Lake City, UTAH