A Peek Inside TGR

While poking 'round Jackson, Wyoming, the Expedition4am crew and I stopped in the offices of TGR, Teton Gravity Research. I was thinking... Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a premiere ski film company... this is gonna be one of those upscale Los Angeles-style editing facilities with hot receptionist, plush editing bays and craft services.

Man, I couldn't have been further off the mark!

TGR is a ragtag, fraternity-house-kinda-joint jammed into too little space, with somewhat sketchy architectural improvements. Every nook has been taken over by an editing system of one type or another. Empty beer cans and rotting cups of chew-spit sit abandon on desks and file cabinets, while product stickers are plastered everywhere. One editing bay (if you could call it a bay) utilizes the rear bench seat from a Ford Explorer as a couch. It's a living room run amuck, caught in the throes of complete entropy-- exactly the type of place you'd expect would pump out the best extreme ski films on the market.

We had an informal meeting arranged with founder Dirk Collins, but nooooo... he made us wait until he was done meeting with someone far more important than a bunch of bums like us. Actually the person really was more important-- someone with whom TGR is looking to partner. I could drop the name right here and now, but A) that wouldn't be cool, and B) honestly I don't want to spoil the surprise. So I'll just say TGR is in discussions with a BIG NAME and you're going to be excited if things work out. I promise!

When we finally did hook it up with Dirk, he was sipping a Red Bull and was somewhat suspicious of our credibility. I assured him that we were completely unimportant and that we had just stopped by to waste his time. When he realized we weren't the type to bullshit him, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Cool." Then he showed us around the joint and shared the latest on their exciting slate of film and television projects.

On cable TV, TGR is currently producing a show called
UNTRACKED for the Fuel Network. UNTRACKED is a story driven travelogue featuring the most progressive riding in the world's wildest places, incorporating cutting edge 16mm film, POV helmet cameras, helicopter angles, follow cams, and diverse perspectives that deliver an exciting virtual experience to the viewer. UNTRACKED features skiers Micah Black, Sage Cattabriga Alosa, Jeremy Nobis, Jamie Pierre, Marc Andre Belliveau, Meg Oster, Will Burks, Jonny Law, Chris Collins, and Erik Roner. Featured snowboarders include Jeremy Jones, Victoria Jealouse, Lance Pitman, Carsten Bahnson and Bryan Iguchi.

THE TANGERINE DREAM is their next film, which will tour around this winter at various outdoor venues and film festivals. It's a film documenting 10 years of broken down trucks, whiskey bottles, wanderlust and the most down and dirty skiing and boarding you have ever seen. This rusty orange story is about the origins of TGR, outlaw athletes and the ragged lifestyle that has kept this posse’s dream and way of life alive. It takes you on a rowdy road trip through India, Turkey, Switzerland, France, Alaska, Aspen, Utah, Montana, California and Jackson Hole... all the while celebrating the lifestyle of skiing and the passion that continues to change the face of the sport.

SHACK THEREPY is their next Surfing flick coming spring of 2006. Since it is currently in the works Dirk didn't have specific details-- other than the fact that it is being filmed on location in South Africa, Norway, Baja, Hawaii, Micronesia and the athletes include Andy Irons, Sunny Garcia, Jamie OBrien, Benji Weatherly, Ian Walsh, Shane Dorian, Brian Conely, Ola Eleogram, Pancho Sullivan, Kieran Perrow, Raoni Mointero, Darren O'Rafferty. Beside that, no info at all.

These projects are only part of the current workload that keeps the TGR staff busy as hell. The team is in the thick of developing new stuff, gearing up for winter festivals, and promoting and distributing its wares.

Dirk introduced us to Chad Jackson the Marketing Supervisor. This guy has a ton on his plate these days, but still feels he has a wonderful job. Chad originally moved to Jackson Hole to live the skier lifestyle and got involved with TGR as an intern. The internship turned into a job and over the past few years his responsibilities have changed. Now he oversees the marketing of TGR's brand, yet still finds time to hit the slopes in the winter time.

"This job is perfect and lets me ski everyday." explains Chad, "I'm right here by the slope, so even if I'm really busy I can still get in a couple runs during lunch hour."

Not only does Chad's job allow him time to ski everyday, but his faithful companion, Tuck, is welcome in the office too. With a small chuckle Chad rubbed the dog's head and said, "It can get a bit crazy at times, but at least it's not a stuffy corporate environment, right Tuck?"

Seems like a lot of people here in Jackson have that same mentality. The outdoors lifestyle has such an incredible value, why not find a way to shape the rest of your life around it? TGR itself was founded that very way when back in 1989, Dirk Collins, Steve Jones, Todd Jones and Cory Gavitt, loaded up a beat-down, bright orange pickup and headed to Jackson. They eventually turned cameras inward on their skiing lifestyle and more than fifteen years later continue to live the dream-- beer cans, product stickers and all.

-- by Rob K

For more info on Teton Gravity Research and their films you can go to: www.tetongravity.com