It took Warren Miller 14 years to hire his first employee, cameraman Don Brolin. When the company was sold to Miller's son, Kurt, and Peter Speek 26 years later in 1989, the number had grown to 15 workers. Now, more than 50 people scurry through the company's Boulder, Colo., headquarters and around the globe. Warren still provides his signature narration, although the film increasingly carries the voices of performers and crew.
In fact, a new element is being emphasized: music. Kurt sees this as a bridge between the films' traditional fans and the booming youth ski culture. From Counting Crows to Guano Apes, this isn't your father's soundtrack.
The company has blossomed into a media conglomerate. In addition to the film, it produces commercials, CDs, videos, documentaries, TV episodes and second-unit film productions. For all of this, the movie still stands secure as the centerpiece. This year, the anniversary film, titled, simply, "Fifty," draws from the finest moments of earlier films. One of the highlight involves synchronized jumping filmed with Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley and cameraman Brolin, who's retiring after 36 years. The people and places keep changing, but the show never ends.