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Adventure Magazine

Adventure Main | E-mail the Editors | Adventure Customer Service | Subscribe October 2004

What It Takes...
To Go From Ski Bum to Media Mogul
Dirk Collins, founder of action-sports media company Teton Gravity Research. As told to Tess Weaver

When we started Teton Gravity Research, we had no idea what it would become. Forming a media company was just a way to continue our lifestyle. We were already traveling to uncharted regions of the world anyway, so we decided to start documenting it. Corey Gavitt, Steve Jones, Todd Jones, and I took some of the fishing money we'd earned and bought a 16mm film camera—that was nine years ago.

Our first office was in a one-bedroom condo that Todd, Steve, and I shared in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We were complete ski bums. We'd wait tables at night and ski during the days in the winter. In the summer, we'd commercial-fish in Alaska. We put whatever money we had into the business.

When we were making our first film, The Continuum, we spent probably $70,000 to $80,000 dollars of our own money. But when it turned out really well, the industry realized that we had talent and began to support us through partnerships.

After five or six years, we discovered we couldn't keep up with the cash flow and had to get investors. We all came pretty close to finishing college, but none of us actually finished—we got lured away by skiing. Even though we didn't initially have a lot of business skills, we picked them up along the way, and continue to do so.

TGR has become a steady business with 18 films and 20 or so television programs to date, and several projects in the works. We went from waiting for the phone to ring to getting letters and e-mails everyday from kids who want to be interns. We're in the position Warren Miller was when we were growing up. It's great to be inspiring kids to do things outside of the norm.

So, it was a lot of scheming, a lot of sleeping on floors, and a lot of groveling to live our dream. We used to ski 200 days a year, now we're lucky if we ski 60. It's a whole different world, but it's been fun the whole way. I look back on all of it and don't regret anything. We're stoked to go to work everyday—not many people have that.

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, October 2004

What It Takes: The best dream adventures you can make happen—today
- To go from ski bum to media mogul
Welcome to the Neighborhood: Can mountain lions and mountain bikers get along?
Secrets of the Black Hills: Granite towers, sunken caves, and singletrack abound
Pelton's World: Five things travel guidebooks never tell you

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October 2004

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