Quarantine ReScreen | Michelle Parker | ORIGINATE Season 2

In the time of COVID-19, a lot of us have found ourselves with an uptick in how much screen time is present in our lives.

If you’re like me, that means a lot of scrolling, and quite a bit of combing through content in search of something that a) I want to watch or listen to, and b) something that will hold my attention. So the #QRS, or the Quarantine ReScreen, marches on. To read more about the origin of the #QRS, click here.

Quarantine ReScreen | Michelle Parker | ORIGINATE Season 2

In the social media crazed world that is 2020, traditional ski and snowboard films still experience a remarkable level of prominence among their core fans and viewers. That said, some athletes’ Instagram profiles feature video clips, pics, and personalized content that garner more views and popularity than annual full-length projects by production companies. Smaller, social media releases also offer a broader range of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for the brands and companies supporting these athletes than they would receive by having their athletes featured in ski or snowboard films alone. Some of these KPI’s include vastly extended reach to viewers beyond the ski and snowboard world. Also included is the ability to track impressions and engagement in real-time to find out how their deployed strategy is performing, thus offering the opportunity for immediate micro adjustments as they aim to sell seasonal specific product.

In the last 10 years brands and athletes have had to experiment with their exposure equation in an effort to hack the newly evolving social media landscape. For example, putting out content on their own platforms instead of/ in addition to relying on the production companies to advertise for them. Or, releasing smaller “mini edits” throughout the snow season on their athletes’ social profiles. We’ve also seen brands showcasing behind-the-scenes footage of their athletes doing things besides ski or snowboard that add personality and flare to the public perception of their influencer.

Red Bull has notably been ahead of the curve in this competition for attention. As a society, we’ve seen interest foster around individuals and their specific story. Thus, the traditional, action-based “ski porn” storylines started to lose out to the documentary style storytelling we’ve come to know and expect.

In 2010 Red Bull snowboard athlete Eero Ettala launched a TV show, web series, and documentary film all rolled into one called Tracking Eero. The project was spearheaded by both Oakley and Friday Productions, and was featured on FuelTV among others. In 2012, Red Bull put out a web series of its own called Brothers On The Run featuring pro snowboard siblings Eric and John Jackson as they road-tripped through their winter season. Red Bull also released Bobby’s Life the same year, a youtube based web series that starred then contest skier Bobby Brown. In 2014 Red Bull introduced Cooking With Gas, another web series profiling snowboarder Eero Ettala. This recipe of webisode content has since been adopted by the masses, and Red Bull has stayed at the forefront of the content distribution model with the likes of Sean Pettit‘s Keep Your Tips Up as well as Michelle Parker‘s ORIGINATE. After a very successful first season, Parker’s second season of ORIGINATE looked a little different. With new elements and more cameo’s from her network of professional athlete friends, season two was received with very high acclaim.

Truckee, CA native, Michelle Parker, made the jump from slalom ski racer to big mountain badass, with a couple of stops in between to compete as a slopestyle and halfpipe skier. Her ski career features over a dozen film appearances and an award for Best Female Performance on two separate occasions courtesy of the annual ski industry honors ceremony hosted by Powder. The Matchstick Productions (MSP) star mixes a hard charging, big mountain approach with an artistic style that seems to radiate both ease and an element of joy. She reps sponsors like Red Bull, Black Crows, Anon, and Arc’Teryx.

Oh, and there’s more. She also founded a backcountry education program that aims to empower women in the mountains called S.A.F.E. A.S. Clinics with some of her friends, who also just happen to be some of the worlds best female skiers. Michelle sits on the board of the High Fives Foundation and she is also an ambassador for Protect Our Winters. She even wrote a book titled Goldie whose proceeds will benefit the climate advocacy organization.

If unfamiliar with Michelle’s ski portfolio, take a gander at the pro ski vet of 14 years as she introduces herself and the ORIGINATE project in Season 1, Episode 1 below.

ORIGINATE season one showcased some of the industry’s well known names skiing alongside Michelle in locations such as British Columbia’s Coast Range and Japan’s Myoko Kogen. Season one also aimed to highlight female skiers as capable powerhouses in an industry often dominated by male athletes. Female athletes have long battled for recognition in the snow sports world. MSP gained notoriety for their 2018 film, All In, which included a balanced male/ female athlete line up. Names like Angel Collinson and Elyse Saugstad who starred along Michelle in All In also made appearances in ORIGINATE.

ORIGINATE season two brought with it another pivot in the webisode content distribution model. The crossover we saw in season one of male skiers and female skiers in the same project noticeably expanded in season two.

The season opens with an episode in the backcountry of Tahoe, CA. The part of the episode that warrants a double take is the cast of characters that accompanies Michelle on this strike mission. Danny Davis, Red Gerrard, and Brock Crouch are all big name slopestyle and halfpipe… snowboarders. Male identifying, contest snowboarders. And they crush it in this segment.

The trend continues in S2 E2 with names like Aaron Blatt, Mark Carter, Alex Yoder and Nick Russell. Blatt is very well known in the snowboard community as a photographer. He’s also involved in the production of ORIGINATE along with the crew at Reel Water Productions, so its cool to see him spend some time on the other side of the lens. Oh, and he is Michelle’s partner. Which could explain the inclusion of snowboarders in the project. Or not. Just speculation…

In addition to Blatt, Michelle is joined in S2E2 by Mark Carter in Jackson, WY for the Arc’Teryx Academy’s photo challenge, which they go on to win.

Michelle finishes the series in Alaska with skier Lexi Dupont in episode 6. The episode highlights Michelle’s contemplative retrospection of her 10 years of skiing big mountains out of Haines, AK. She cites a photo given to her by JP Auclair of the Caffeine Ridge as inspiration right before getting redemption on a line that tripped her up in the early days  of her career in AK.

The entire ORIGINATE collection is available for free on Red Bull TV. It also showcases Michelle’s efforts to further women’s success in other sports. We get to see into the world of rock climbing, mountain biking, and into the culmination of art, flow, and sport with a behind the scenes look at TGR‘s new collaborative film with Chris Benchetler, Fire On The Mountain. As a fan of both the ski and snowboard industry, I’m extremely appreciative of people like Michelle Parker. Her tenacity, drive, and commitment to her craft are mixed with an infallible affinity for art and an appreciation for life. These are things that drove me to, and have kept me in, the ski and snowboard industry. With prominent figures like her at the helm, I believe that our trajectory is in good hands.

Hit mute on that zoom call, and go explore Season 2 of Originate. If your boss asks what you’re doing, you’re exploring how to innovate while maintaining the goofy characteristics your coworkers have come to love. You won’t be lying.

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