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WARREN MILLER: Sleeping is a colossal waste of time

September 21, 2012

As I have grown older, I always thought I would live in a house somewhere in Sun City, Arizona, or Palm Springs, California, playing bridge and shuffleboard with a bunch of old blue and grey-haired people, many of whom would be on walkers. 

I’ve been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but on this, it could not be any further from the truth. 
 
My wife, Laurie, and I live quite an active life on our sleepy island. 
 
There are just not enough hours in any day of the week to get done what I want to get done. 
I think that if I were in the pharmaceutical business, I would invent a pill of some kind that eliminated the need for any more than four hours of sleep a night. 
 
As much as I try to avoid it, I spend far too much time just sleeping or “catching a few Zs.” What a colossal waste of time sleeping is.
 
I have found that in the past few years of my retirement, I have become increasingly excited about writing my autobiography. 
 
A bio of interest to my wife and children, and I hope a few more people who might like to know more about the history of skiing. 
 
Even more so, learning about the guy that used to stand up in front of them one or two nights a year and take them on a cinematic ride to new and exciting places, where someone had begged and borrowed enough money to build a rope tow, that eventually grew into a ski resort.
 
I have always had the same business model. 
 
Rather than try and get a percent of a later deal, pay me for my time and trouble of making the movie and “good luck” to you. 
 
I did have a guy for a couple of years showing my movies all over Europe and Australia, and he reported that he was barely making his travel expenses, and a tiny profit. 
 
I caught up with him in Arosa, Switzerland, one night when he had to show the film for three nights in a row to accommodate the crowd. 
 
A letter followed, from Australia, that he was doing standing-room-only shows there. 
I guess it’s easy when you are a promoter—such as he was—when you don’t have to worry about the success of the film as the filmmaker. 
 
He never did pay me much, though he did have some good success.
 
This really came into focus for me one night in San Francisco when a ski club put on my film and reported a couple of hundred empty seats. 
 
As I was there at the time, I know we held up the show for 20 minutes while we laid 20 bucks on the fire marshal to let people sit in the aisle. 
 
It was standing room only, and of course, I switched promoters after the show. 
I always feel that 99 people out of a 100 are honest, but we all, on occasion, run into the one percent who are not.
 
I had a great time improving my movies each time I had the opportunity to make another. 
I produced my annual 90-minute ski film, and in addition, I also produced as many as 10, half-hour advertising films a year. 
 
I recently uncovered a record of the many films I made with the help of Don Brolin and a staff of great people that numbered over 600 different films. 
 
Doing business with that many different clients, camera operators, and promoters, I think my batting average was almost 1,000 percent.
 
Maybe some scientist with a pharmaceutical background is out there working on a pill that will put energy back in your system without sleep, and not be harmful to your health. 
 
If someone could have invented the electronic computer/cell phone era 60 years ago, who knows where we would be today.
 
This makes me wonder what kind of a life my grandchildren will be living when they are my age. 
 
Make the best use of the time you have, especially in retirement.
 
Warren Miller is an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. He is the founder of Warren Miller Entertainment and produced, directed and narrated his films until 1988. His annual films on skiing and other outdoor sports are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and the impressive talents of athletes. He has received wide acclaim for his promotion of the sport of modern skiing through his films spanning over 50 years and is an iconic figure in ski movie filmmaking. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.
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