Meet Your Merchant: Big mountain shots, big mountain dreams

Jenny Goldsmith
Special to the Sun
Jenny Goldsmith / Special to the SunDana Mackie is owner of 4 Reel Productions.

CARNELIAN BAY, Calif. and#8212; The lights dim low. The crowd hushes to a silence. A video projector flickers to life. A blank screen is suddenly illuminated with visions of white powder, blue skies and a super-human flying across a blanket of milky cotton. A feeling of tranquility overcomes the room as the congregation of devout skiers and snowboarders stare hypnotically at the screen, awaiting a glimpse of the deepest and#8220;pow,and#8221; the freshest line, the most epic terrain ever captured on film.

For any skier or snowboarder, from average to extreme, there is no better way to nurture the soul before the storms come than slapping on a beanie, grabbing some friends and catching the latest ski-film premiere. Itand#8217;s an obsession, a year-round commitment, a constant reminder to go big or go home.

For Dana Mackie, itand#8217;s a way of life.

Since 2000, Mackie has created, filmed, produced and edited four ski and snowboard films, been featured on Fox Sports, earned a spot in the Tube Film Festival and started her own production company, 4 Reel Productions based in North Lake Tahoe. Oh, and sheand#8217;s kept her goggle tan intact along the way.

Born and raised in Yosemite Valley, Mackie is no stranger to the ski-bum lifestyle.

and#8220;I grew up skiing on Badger Pass in Yosemite,and#8221; Mackie recalls. and#8220;The Valley is a place I really connect with and#8230; itand#8217;s definitely a part of who I am.and#8221;

As a child, Mackie competed in events on her local mountain and in the Junior Olympics until a near-fatal car accident in 1985 left her blind in one eye.

and#8220;I couldnand#8217;t walk straight and I lost a lot of my balance,and#8221; Mackie said. and#8220;Learning to see out of one eye wasnand#8217;t easy.and#8221;

Mackie recovered and readjusted to life, and eventually relocated to Kings Beach where she purchased her house in 1996 while attending school at the University of Nevada, Reno. It was also during this time Mackie began work with Standard Films, a job she hoped would pay the mortgage and the season pass to Squaw.

What Mackie didnand#8217;t anticipate was the inspiration she would gain working side-by-side with Mike Hatchet, owner of Standard Films, and the new direction her life would soon take.

and#8220;Mike taught me a lot about the business end of things and how to look at the bigger picture of production,and#8221; Mackie said. and#8220;Heand#8217;s very talented at filming and editing, and it was so great to be a part of that company.and#8221;

After spending a few years with Standard Films working on production, Mackie realized she needed to express her own creative vision. Parting on good terms, Mackie bought some footage off Hatchet and left Standard Films to produce Empress, a groundbreaking film showcasing a cast of extreme female athletes.

Empress and#8212; released in 2000 under Misty Productions and#8211; gained national recognition in the extreme sports industry. The film was featured at the X-Games, on Fox Sports Network and on the television series and#8220;Womenand#8217;s Extreme Sports.and#8221;

That same year, fueled by her newfound career, Mackie launched 4 Reel Productions and embarked on a solo journey to inspire the masses through action sport filmmaking.

and#8220;Being able to express my creativity is so important, itand#8217;s a way to share my energy,and#8221; Mackie said.

Mackie has since produced three additional ski and snowboard films featuring and#8220;snowboard legends, up-and-coming rippers and old school riders from back in the day,and#8221; she said.

But the daring endeavor has seen its share of challenges.

and#8220;The industry is so different now,and#8221; Mackie said. and#8220;Back then, people were buying videos and DVDs. Now everything is streaming online and itand#8217;s so readily available. Itand#8217;s hard to separate yourself and keep the integrity of the film.and#8221;

Mackie isnand#8217;t the only independent filmmaker feeling the pinch from the viral marketing industry. Her former Standard Filmand#8217;s boss, Hatchet, echoes a similar sentiment.

and#8220;Youand#8217;re constantly trying to evolve yourself to keep up with the digital market,and#8221; Hatchet said. and#8220;Hopefully technology wonand#8217;t wipe out the independent filmmaker.and#8221;

One way to stay in the game, according to Hatchet, is to reinvent your vision, which is exactly what Mackie aims to do.

Her next big project is in the works, and while it may sway from her typical and#8216;shreddyand#8217; films, it hits closer to home than any project she has worked on in the past.

and#8220;My goal is create a documentary depicting the mystery of Yosemite National Park,and#8221; Mackie said. and#8220;I want to showcase Yosemite through the eyes of climbers, rangers, hikers and anyone who comes to enjoy and protect the Valley.and#8221;

Itand#8217;s hard to predict how the viral world will affect small visionaries like Mackie, but one thing is certain: Mackie will always remain true to her lifestyle.

and#8220;I want to film sports no matter what,and#8221; Mackie said. and#8220;I canand#8217;t see myself not filming and I definitely canand#8217;t see myself not skiing.and#8221;

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