Interview: 17 Years Of Filmmaking With Level 1 Productions

Level 1 is a family of talented filmmakers, athletes, photographers, editors, and designers, trekking the globe to capture compelling images of the best skiing action, cutting it up and delivering premium content and stories to The Garage.

The crew have been producing A grade quality ski productions since the 90’s. Year after year, banger after banger Level 1 know how to keep it fresh and entertaining. Now, after 17 years of filmmaking, they’ve done it again with their latest production Small World. We picked the brain of producer, director, skier, founder and all round nice guy, Josh Berman, to see what makes him tick and all things Level 1.

Thanks for taking the time Josh!

How does Level 1 keep it fresh after all these years?

In a lot of ways this isn’t hard to do- we’re fortunate enough to work with some amazingly talented and creative athletes, and the reality is that action always has been, and always will be the driving factor in our films.  On the filmmaking side, equipment and techniques have evolved, and we’ve always been forced to push our own creativity due to budget restrictions, so it helps keep the production side very forward thinking too!  

Has much changed for Level 1 after 17 years of filmmaking?

Yes- so much has changed… what started out as me spending 6 months of the year couch surfing and then living in my parents house during the summer months to edit has turned into a slightly more legitimate business, at least to the point where we have employees that expect to get paid every month, a ‘real’ office, and a LOT more responsibilities to treat the whole thing like a ‘real’ job.  

You guys have a lot of fun in your films, what kind of shenanigans go on behind the scenes for Level 1?

Things have probably mellowed out a little as we’ve all gotten older and grown up, but we’re all in this business because we love the sport of skiing, and we love the idea of traveling the world with our friends capturing images and sharing them with our fans, so this usually results in plenty of good times being had.

What does it take to feature in a Level 1 Production?

Well, it should go without saying that we try to work with the best skiers in the world- creativity and style have always been paramount, so those are the first few ingredients.  Beyond that, a positive attitude is the most important thing that I look for- makes all the difference when the going gets tough, and it does get tough pretty regularly.  We started something called the SuperUnknown contest back in 2003 as a talent-search contest, and to give the best and brightest of the up and coming ams a shot at making it.  It’s really turned into our feeder program one the years, and the vast majority of the skiers that we work with come through SuperUnknown in some way, shape, or form.


Any young guns you have your eye on to feature in a future production?

I could spell it out for you… or you could just keep tabs on what’s been going down at SuperUnknown- that says it all!

You shoot, shred and edit…What makes Josh Berman tick?

Inspiring people, and making a difference in their lives is really what keeps me motivated!  Hearing from fans that have said that growing up watching Level 1 movies helped inspire them to pursue dreams of skiing, moving out West, or otherwise following their own path is truly the biggest compliment.

Best and worst moment that comes to mind over the years – filming and skiing?

Tough to pick a few in particular that really stand out, but the worst moments are always injury related- fortunately we haven’t had anything super serious happen on one of our shoots (knock on wood!) but its always scary to see friends get hurt.  The best moments are too numerous to list- but I’ve always lived vicariously through the athletes that I work with, and there’s a sense of pride that I get whenever they stomp a trick- the harder earned, the more rewarding! 


What’s your weapon of choice?

My go-to for the past few seasons has been a RED Epic as my primary camera, and a Sony a7sii as my B-cam and the piece of equipment that I always carry with me.

Standout section in Small World and why?

Depends what you’re looking for, but we’re sitting on some VERY fun, unique, and wild content from this past year, including what’s definitely our biggest and heaviest big mountain segment yet from Eagle Pass, some far out destinations including India and Russia, and some exceptionally creative and heavy street content from across North America and Japan.  Should be right in line with what our fans have come to expect from us, with plenty of surprises thrown in for good measure…

What’s in the works for Level 1? Any new productions?

We’re going to keep the annual movie train rolling for another few years… my personal goal is to at least get to 20- not too far off at this point!  Otherwise we’ve been growing the business into the commercial production realm- that’s certainly the future in what’s been a tough climate for the ski industry- both in terms of weather and business.  

Any words of wisdom for the kids?

Spend less time in front of your computers- get out and ski (and shoot)!

An excerpt from Level 1’s Small World. Film of the week, now on Garage: