AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ANTHONY, DIRECTOR OF "MISSION MT. MANGART"
Winner: Best Historical Film - April 2021 Edition
DIRECTOR, WRITER & PRODUCER
• 2018 Colorado Snow Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
• Award winning Documentary Producer, Director, Writer and Editor
• Best Historical Film at Cannes World Film Festival - Remember the Future - April 2021
• Featured athlete in 28 Warren Miller films
• Executive Director & Founder, Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project
• Professional skier and ski personality
• Motivational Speaker
• Veteran of 9 World Extreme Skiing Championships
• Former Alaskan Extreme Skiing Champion
• Former Beaver Creek Ski School Trainer
• Alaska Helicopter Ski Guide
Colorado Native and Snow Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Chris Anthony is a professional skier whom has been on skis since he was eighteen months old, and competed in almost every discipline of the sport. He made his way up the international ranks of Alpine Ski Racing before switching over to the Big Mountain Free-ride Competitions, formally known as Extreme Skiing Competitions.
During the off-season, Chris raced road bikes professionally for one of the top Continental Teams. Both sports allowed him to spend time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he was exposed to Exercise Physiology. He would later study this subject at the University of the Colorado and receive a Bachelor of Science degree.
During college Chris was recruited by Warren Miller Films to ski in one of the annual films. The opportunity inspired Chris to write a screenplay and eventually study film and writing while interning for Michael Douglas at Paramount Studios and attending USC in Los Angeles for a period of time.
During the winter months for more than 28 years, Chris continued to travel as an athlete, host and emcee for Warren Miller Films (now Warren Miller Entertainment), building his brand. He is known for outlandish ski film assignments in strange locations.
During his career Chris has free-lanced for several publications, co-authored a guidebook, was commissioned to write a screenplay, hosted and produced several television and segment projects.
Chris has been booked for hundreds of speaking engagements, and formed a consulting and guide business.
Philanthropy: Chris has volunteered thousands of hours for several charitable organizations, raising over a million dollars on their behalf prior to building his own youth outreach program called the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project
HOF: Chris has received numerous accolades including being inducted into the Colorado Snow Sports Hall of Fame in 2018
In 1991, Chris was appointed the title of Youth Ambassador for the State Colorado by Governor Roy Romer. This sent Chris on a cultural exchange to the prefecture of Yamagata, Japan. In 1997, Chris was appointed to the Colorado Speakers Bureau, placing him in front of a number of Fortune 500 companies. One of his prouder moments was receiving the 2014 St. Jude Children’s Hospital Sarah Burke Spirit Award for his work with youth.
A year later, in 1998, Colorado Ski Country named Chris the spokesperson for their 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. The Passport Program served as a platform for him to design his own youth mentoring program now operating under the guidance of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.
In 2013, Chris was inspired by a mentor to create a 501(c)(3) foundation to honor his desire to impact youth. His most powerful resource came from his position as a professional skier, through which he has engaged with more than 85,000 students over 20-plus years through school programs and other educational outlets.
Since the creation of his Youth Project as a fiscal partner of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center in 2013, Chris has been able to take his mission to the next level.
He has expanded his programming and now offers financial aid in select situations to ensure a broad spectrum of students can participate in his educational offerings.
More recently Chris expanded his Youth Project by underwriting snow science and avalanche education for youth and is currently working on an educational documentary.
In 2014 the Governor of the State of Colorado endorsed the Project with this statement:
“Colorado has always led the way in quality of life, fitness, adventure and outdoors. The Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project has taken the unique outdoor assets we have across the state and created a program that will further enhance youth education.”
— John Hickenlooper, Former Governor of the State of Colorado.
Current United States Senator
Hello Chris Anthony, thank you for having this conversation with us. Can you share with your audience about the genesis of the idea for your film?
This story found me and would not let me go. The catalyst for it was introduced to me by a retired General of the Slovenian Mountain Troops who I met while skiing with a group in Italy. He informed me that as an American, I should know about this little bit of history that took place on the Italian / Yugoslavian border in June 1945. Once I opened that door, I fell into the vortex of learning so much more and I needed to bring it all to life.
This is a very compelling story. Did you feel invested with a responsibility to make it known?
Once I was introduced to the story, I did feel an obligation to share it with the world. The story is much bigger and more important that perhaps the little project I originally thought it was going to be. Because of the content the importance of it was also soon realized. It became a huge responsibility I wanted to get right.
There was obviously a massive amount of research involved in achieving your project. How did you proceed, in terms of selecting items and building your story?
Originally I was introduced to just one moment in time, June 3rd 1945. But when I decided that I needed to explain the surrounding support of why this moment was so unique, I realized I needed to do the research and find out how and why? This put me in the archives of libraries for days, researching on the internet and tracking down individuals. It was a very long, tedious road of research.
Once the word got out I was doing this, descendants of the characters in the documentary started to send me info. Pieces of the puzzle were coming from everywhere. I just needed to figure out how to build the puzzle in a way it made sense to look at and fit together.
While making your film, did you have any specific audiences in mind?
At first, I wanted to make a documentary for the Skiing Community. But then I realized there are thousands upon thousands of WW2 descendants that want to know this story along with those that overall have pride and interest in WW2 History. I also had youth in mind. How do I make something that is educational but yet entertaining about history that will grab everyone’s attention?
In the course of the making, were there any unexpected, "unwritten" events (as in unwritten in your original storyline) that significantly changed or impacted your narrative?
This is a massive question. Over the 6.5 years, a constant flow of unexpected things happened to me that led to more information and more content, for which I needed to try and figure out a way to get into the storyline of the documentary.
One example was when I was introduced to an event that took place at the end of April 1945 in Lake Garda, Italy. Twenty-five guys went missing. This dropped into my lap as I was getting on a plane to fly from Italy back to the United States.
When I found out, upon landing, that the researchers had found the boat the twenty-five men were in on the bottom of Lake Garda, I knew I needed to figure out a way to buy a plane ticket and return. I was very short on money. So buying plane tickets was an expense I could not absorb on the budget. But then a commercial flight I was on crashed. They gave me a refund on my tickets as well as some vouchers for flights. I was able to get back to Italy and get the story on budget.
What function do you believe documentary film has in the contemporary film-buff's experience? In your view, what differences and/or similarities are there between fiction and documentary? How would you like documentary films in general, and yours in particular, to impact the viewers' imagination and, perhaps, their lives?
I feel that documentaries play a massive role in education, recording history or important periods of time. They are amazing because without creating a story there are real life stories out there that often trump fiction. Fiction is amazing because it lets the mind create and drift with imagination. But Documentaries are stunning because they really happened and human perseverance never ceases to amaze me.
After this experience in making such a stunning, highly informed film, any advice you would like to share with a filmmaker getting started on their debut documentary?
The thought of me giving filmmaking advice is funny. But I can say this: So many people want to be filmmakers. That is all they know. They want to make films and money.
What I can honestly say is, organically find the story you are emotionally attached to.
Then become a filmmaker. Don’t think of yourself a filmmaker first.
Short statement describing your vision of the post-Covid cinema, do you think there will be notable changes?
I believe that people are eager to get back into the theaters and be present for live events. Watching a film in the proper setting as a theater brings something special to a movie. The audience is tired of being at home they want a reason to get out dress up and be present.