The Tastemaker

EVERY YEAR, Freedle Coty starts over. After the credits have rolled on his last ski movie, the filmer and creative mind for Level 1 Productions hits the road to film with skiers across the continent, rewinding the process back to the beginning.

“Right away, right off the bat, you flip the hourglass over again,” he says.

Coty, 33, has made ski movies for 17 years, joining Level 1 in 2003 and before that, making ski edits on VHS tapes with high school buddies. With a new ski season comes a new ski movie, and Level 1 has kept up with the annual pace even as the internet laps the traditional ski movie and instantaneous Instagram stories outrun web edits.

Despite the ever-evolving ways we consume ski media, Coty sticks to the script. The goal, year in and year out, is to produce a feature-length film that is both original and creative. Level 1 achieved that with Pleasure, their 2016 release that won “Movie of the Year” at the Powder Awards. For Coty, a high school dropout who has become one of the world’s most consistent, loyal, and creative ski filmmakers, success brought new challenges. Pleasure was the culmination of his craft. Where other movies have left him hungry to do better, now he struggled to find inspiration.

“I read this great quote from Picasso—success can be your worst enemy because you start copying yourself,” says Coty. “It can be way more detrimental. To copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. You get a pat on the back and some accolades, and then you’re like, ‘Where do you go from here?’”


The first time I called

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