Darien residents turns passion for skiing into professional career
A brief stint in corporate America was all it took for one Darien resident pack up everything he had, jump in his car and drive out West to an unknown and uncertain future in filmmaking.
Cory Bixler grew up in Darien and had a passion for skiing ever since he was 3 years old when his parents would take him on a yearly trip to Canada. Bixler eventually headed out West to the University of Colorado where he majored in communications. During his college years he spent as much time as possible on the slopes before he returned to Darien.
"I spent one winter away from Colorado and that's when I realized how much I missed it," Bixler said.
Bixler considered a career in advertising but soon realized that the corporate world wasn't where he wanted to be. He packed up his car and drove out to Taos, N.M., without a place to live or a job.
"When I got out there I met a couple of guys and we rented a cabin that we called Log Mahal," Bixler said. Log Mahal also became the name Bixler and his friends gave to their production company, Log Mahal Productions, LLC.
Even though Bixler was enjoying his time in New Mexico, he was still dreaming about producing ski movies, so he began saving money from the carpentry and other odd jobs he was doing.
"I saved enough money to purchase high-definition cameras because we needed professional equipment to make a quality product," Bixler said.
Acquiring the equipment was only a small part of the challenges Bixler and his crew faced because a botched landing while skiing in October left Bixler with two broken legs and no way to get around the mountain.
"Luckily the mountain staff was nice enough to take me around the mountain on a snowmobile so I could still shoot," Bixler said.
Because of his injuries, Bixler decided he would do the editing -- a challenge that had a steeper learning curve than he anticipated.
"The learning curve was definitely the hardest part because I had to teach myself Final Cut Pro," Bixler said. "When I first started doing this I didn't want to be sitting behind a computer all day but I realized that it is worth it."
Log Mahal's first documentary, "A Season in the Life," was released for free because it was a good way for the company to get some name recognition, Bixler said. The film also premiered at one of the largest ski festivals in Colorado where it was well received, Bixler said.
"Our market ranges from people who are 8 to people who are 80," Bixler said. "We wanted to get away from `ski porn' and do more documentary style filming."
Log Mahal's mission statement says the company highlights the uniqueness of each resort and the athletes.
Shortly after finishing up production on the first movie, Bixler headed north to Mt. Baker, Wash., to scout a possible filming location.
"It's a wild place," Bixler said. "There are a few of us living in one of the oldest cabins in the area."
Although skiing is a passion of Bixler's, he said the goal for the company is to eventually start branching out into other adventure-based movies.
"We're planning a sailing trip in the future to find some of the best surfing areas in the world," Bixler said. "We're also going to be doing some clothing production."
Bixler said producing the documentary and working on a second film is a lot of fun but there is also a serious business aspect to the projects.
"It's hard at times to keep up with all of the social media because we have a pretty large core of followers and supporters," Bixler said. "We also like to get sponsorships."
Despite the risk of heading off to an unknown future, Bixler said he is very happy with his decision to head to New Mexico.
"I'm doing what I dreamt of doing," Bixler said. "It's funny because in my eighth-grade yearbook it has a quote about what I wanted to be when I grew up and it says I want to be a ski bum and ski extremist."