Daydreams Turns 30

Daydreams Turns 30

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Daydreams Turns 30

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Whether it’s skiing the steepest of the steep on “Idiot’s” at Alpine Meadows, hang gliding the California coast, carving rowdy lines in the Canadian Bugaboos, or watching Craig’s younger brother Greg uncork a then record 100 feet of air off Squaw Valley’s Palisades, Daydreams launders the soul and piques the psyche into an almost paranormal validation of freedom. Scenes swell and crash like teen-age mood swings.

 

 

“The big jump is still something that blows me away,” admits Beck who moved to Tahoe with his family in 1960.

“I’m still active filmmaking and I’ve been privileged to work with today’s finest skiers and boarders. However, those guys back then defined big air. Greg’s jump is truly incredible. We measured  and it’s over 100 feet. The damn jump, though a perfect landing, knocked my brother out cold,” recalls Beck.

Although Greg’s launch is the film’s biggest left hook to drop onto the viewer’s jaw, the film follows with other ecstatic jumps that cross over into Oz. One has to remember that skiing was just growing out of the Jet stick and Bear Cat binding era and into new technology. Most of the film’s skiers, which included Chris Von Der Ahe, Brady Keresy, Pecos Welch, Earl Downing, and Tuck Rivard, skied on rudimentary equipment, in blue jeans, and wool shirts.

That’s what makes some of the jumps, such as the back flip by the late David Burnham off the Palisades into 80 feet of air, even more remarkable. Mark Rivard wasn’t so lucky. Near the end of filming he broke both ankles jumping off the Palisades.

“I was really upset when Mark hurt himself,” admits Craig, who began his journalistic career as a messenger for AP during the Squaw Valley Olympics. “Mark was the best and most beautiful jumper. Up until then we’d been filming without any type of injury. His injuries didn’t stop anybody. The next day David did his flip off the Palisades, an incredible feat.”

What’s more remarkable than the skiing was the film’s production. Beck’s previous experience had been only a Super 8 ski movie set to music called “Timepiece,” and a 16-millimeter short he’d filmed for Hans Gmouver in the Bugaboos which sold to Air Canada.

Daydreams cost $100,000 to make. Taking out loans to cover costs, Beck did practically everything himself in Orson Welles-like fashion: designing new camera mountings on the wing tips of gliders; inventing unusual dissolve transitions. He was also the film’s cameraman. He filmed sequences with a beat up Bell and Howell and Aeroflex cameras, and edited the footage in his own house using a crude A and B roll editing process. He even mastered the original soundtrack (along with Steve Connelley, Blair Pretz, and Ann Vieille). He estimates it took 100 days of filming and 15,000 feet of film to get what he wanted.

“I finished editing the film the night before it was supposed to premiere at the Cobblestone in Tahoe City,” Beck remembers. “I also finished it flat broke and exhausted. I’d been working sometimes for days on end without sleep to get it done. I was obsessed.”

Audiences loved it. Distributing the film became a titanic problem, partially for the lack of money and marketing experience.

“Whenever it showed I had success. I mean we outsold “Jaws” that same year at the Cobblestone. I booked it from Redding to Santa Cruz, mostly at colleges. In Monterey I flew up and down the community all day in my hang glider to promote its showing. I even flew off the Civic Auditorium in Redding,” says Beck who once held the World Hang Gliding Altitude Gain Record at over 20,000 feet. “Then I went to L.A. and just burnt out. I was emotionally drained and all the traveling wasn’t helping my marriage. When Dave Burnham died in a motorcycle accident, I was so bummed I shelved it. I went back to carpentry as a living.”

Through the years Beck has worked on other films including “Ski Extreme.” While writing a screenplay for a feature length movie about the life of Snowshoe Thompson, Beck became heavily involved in resurrecting the historic ski discipline of longboard racing. He formed the National Longboard Association in 1994.

“I still love to make films,” says Beck. “A primary passion for me is shooting pictures and putting them together. Daydreams remains very special. When I made my movie ski films were a weak market. Today it’s quite another story. Daydreams remains very current in today’s big mountain skiing. I’m still surprised by its recognition and enthusiasm from the best skiers today. They like it.”

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