St. Louis-based production company Coolfire Studios has produced a new feature-length documentary film entitled Magic in the Mountains – which tells the remarkable underdog story of how Squaw Valley, a little-known ski area in California, won the bid for the 1960 Winter Olympics and, with the help of Walt Disney, changed forever the ways in which the Games were presented.
Directed by St. Louis-based filmmaker Cody Stokes (The Ghost Who Walks), the documentary features never-before-seen archival footage from the founding of Squaw Valley, 1960 Olympic Games and revealing interviews with participating athletes and attendees.
The team started production in February 2019 and continued to shoot interviews up until the pandemic hit. Interview subjects included participating athletes, historians, former Disney executives, family members of the Squaw Valley Founders and volunteers from the games.
Each brought unique perspectives and memories to the project. Coolfire relied on a lot of archival footage as well as partnering with Walt Disney Archives and the Walt Disney Family Museum archives. Watch the trailer below:
Coolfire first learned of the story from the book Progress City Primer: Stories, Secrets, and Silliness from the Many Worlds of Walt Disney written by Michael Crawford which Coolfire optioned for the making of the film. “There was a chapter in the book about Walt Disney and his involvement in producing the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. As we started to research the story further, we discovered that the story of how Squaw Valley even won the games was equally interesting and so we felt like it would make for a compelling feature film,” states Coolfire Executive Producer David Johnson.
He adds, “This was an event that occurred over 60 years ago, and so we knew that if we looked hard enough we could probably find some old still photography, and motion picture footage sitting around in people’s attics – and that’s exactly what happened.”
Once the project was filmed, it moved on to post-production where Coolfire Studios lead editor Kevin Johnson and Director Cody Stokes went to work. “There was a tremendous amount of footage to go through – from all of the found footage to archival footage and then the interviews we shot. It’s incredibly challenging, but creatively rewarding,” states Director Stokes.
Coolfire’s audio engineer Brent Johnson created an original music score for the piece and Kevin Johnson assisted with compositing and dialed in the color grade.
Currently, the film is available for rental or purchase here. For future updates about the film and where it can be streamed, rented or purchased here. Principal Media has been enlisted as the domestic and international sales agent for the film.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Coolfire Studios
- Director: Cody Stokes
- Director of Photography: Michael Lockridge
- Executive Producers: David Johnson, Steve Luebbert, Jeff Keane, Barry Albrecht
- Story By: Barry Albrecht, David Johnson
- Producer: Daniel Gartner
- Editorial Company: Coolfire Studios
- Editor/Colorist: Kevin Johnson
- Graphics: Patrick Vaughan
- Original Music & Sound Design: Brent Johnson