Like bees to a honeypot of opportunities, young entrepreneurs are flocking to Morzine to ignite their startups. These bright young things are spotting gaps in the ski industry – branded clothing, rental equipment, new apps and inventions… the mountains aren’t just a playground for snowsports, they’re a marketplace to test out the next big thing.
24-year-old Mickey Fitz is one such entrepreneur.
“At last years’ Cavern festival I was really struck by the buzz people get from competitive film making.” Mickey says. “The Shredits app takes that excitement and turns it into a game where you can share videos with friends and compete for the best one.”
The app combines Snapchat, Instagram and Vine, but with a twist: it’s aimed entirely at the ski and snowboard industry.
“We’re surrounded by video content from all over the world on all subjects. Shredits streamlines this, so you can watch the videos you’re interested in, made by friends and filmed in a place you feel a connection with.”
How did such a young Brighton lad afford to start an app? He didn’t. Instead, he tapped into Morzine’s talented pool of seasonnaires and went to Ciaran Wood, now business partner, who did the programming. Having sat down in October 2015 with the initial idea, they launched 4 weeks later, just in time for the season to start.
But the better-known side of the Shredits brand is the parties they throw. They’ve hosted legendary events, such as King of the Mountain, where boarders literally broke collarbones in a race down the slopes whilst carrying a pint of beer. The Shredits brand has since become synonymous with having a good time (read The Garden Party to understand why).
“We host events that are fun, so seasonnaires can enjoy themselves and show off to each other. Professional competitions can sometimes lose that jokey element to them. We want to bring it back.”
Having already seven ski seasons under his weathered belt, from Queenstown in New Zealand to social-scene Tignes, Mickey has spent the last three in Morzine. So why stay here when the world beckons?
“Morzine has become a hub where young brands can start. There’s already some big names, like Rubix Kangeroo, Retro Rental. But it’s the people that makes it special – there’s an inspired collection of people here who are motivated to improve the ski industry, and they encourage you to give it a go too.”
This year, Mickey’s team behind Shredits entered the 24/7 Cavern Film Festival for the second time. They won.
“It felt incredible. We’d told each other we weren’t going to win, because we came 4th last year and were all devastated.”
His team had gone to great lengths for last years’ festival entry. On the last day of filming, a stunt went horribly wrong, and Mickey’s Front Side Rodeo landed him in a crater and ultimately a neck brace. He was told he’d broken his neck and back and couldn’t work for the rest of the season.
“I was hesitant to enter again this year, yeah,” he laughs. “The pressure was on.”
He needn’t have worried. As soon as the opening chase scene started, the audience of 700-strong was captivated. Their entry ‘Gnarnia’ had it all – simple plot, fast pace, jaw-dropping snowboarding tricks and even a man dressed as a giant bird. The audience was gasping and laughing from one scene to the next.
But the film wasn’t without its risks. One stunt, the Butt Naked (pictured), involved a snowboarder flying over the Black Kicker in Arare in nothing but his snowboard boots and a red cowboy hat. “I don’t think anyone has done that before!” Mickey grins.
The film festival, which had sold out before the doors were even open, was a huge success in showcasing local talent, and raised an incredible £12,000 for charity. At its heart, Mickey and his team celebrated a personal victory, as well as professional.
“It was the best night of the season by far. The atmosphere was crazy. Every entry was brilliant and the team at Cavern had worked so hard to put on such a good night.”
Now, with an award under the belt and a growing app, Mickey Fitz is officially this season’s most wanted party planner, videographer, and all-round entrepreneur. He’s been invited back next year to help support the Cavern Film Festival’s 10th anniversary. Nothing has been confirmed so far, but if Shredits has anything to do with it, I reckon Morzine is in for the party of the decade.
Watch Shredits winning film ‘Gnarnia’: