THE TGR STORY
It all began with a dream and a little cash scrapped together from fishing in Alaska. In 1995, Steve Jones, Todd Jones, and Dirk Collins pooled money they had earned as commercial fishermen and heli-ski guides to purchase camera equipment. Joined by longtime friend Corey Gavitt, they banded together to document the progression taking place in action sports. Yet rather than simply capturing this progression on film, they soon became instrumental in fueling it.
With a commitment to showcasing the world’s top athletes—and creating a company driven by their input—the group founded Teton Gravity Research. From its headquarters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, TGR began producing premier ski, snowboard, and surf films. Eighteen years and thirty-four films later, the company continues to evolve. Transcending film, TGR has emerged as a media force in action sports culture.
Early Years | Cape Cod
Steve, Todd and Jeremy Jones grew up on Cape Cod, MA. From the beginning, the boys were consumed by non-stop activities including hockey, snow, beach, and water sports. Early on they would trips up to Stowe, VT to their Grandfather's house where they learned to ski in his driveway. Their childhood was spent exploring the ocean and playing in the mountains whenever they could. This passion ignited a fire within that ultimately became Teton Gravity Research.
Photo: Jones Family Collection
Athletes: Steve, Todd, & Jeremy Jones
1989 | Move to Jackson Hole
Steve moved to Jackson Hole, WY in the winter of 1989/1990 to "take a year off from college." Younger brother Todd followed in his footsteps the next year. In the early days of their Jackson Hole life, the brothers worked in front of the cameras as athletes and appeared in numerous films and magazines. They took night jobs dishwashing, waiting tables, delivering pizzas and doing whatever was necessary to keep "Living the Dream." They have lived in Jackson Hole ever since that "year off".
Athletes: Steve/Todd Jones
1993-1995 | Early Alaska
Following in the steps of their mentor and World Extreme-Skiing Champion, Doug Coombs, Steve and Todd made their first pilgrimage to Valdez, AK in 1993. Along with a handful of ragtag ski bums, they lived in tents on the side of Thompson Pass, relishing the glory of $25 heli-drops. There were no rules and the terrain was seemingly endless. That season they took a ski plane drop to the remote Valley of the Tusk, with friend and original partner Dirk Collins, to camp and chase first descents on foot. It was here that the idea of starting a film company was born. Within a year they were invited to join Coombs' fledgling Valdez Heli Ski Guides, giving them an all-access pass to the wildest, most untapped terrain in North America.
Photographer: Todd Jones Collection
Athletes: Todd Jones, Steve Jones, and Dirk Collins
1994-1997 | Commercial Fishing
After spending the spring heli-guiding for Coombs, Steve & Todd were out of money and looking for work. With no means to get home, they hitchhiked 996 miles over 4 days to get from Anchorage to Haines, where they hopped a ferry to the fishing port of Sitka, AK. The boys started pounding the docks trying to convince any captain of their ability and experience on the sea. For the next four years, they made their living crewing on commercial fishing boats throughout Alaska's wild ocean and inlets. During one of these cycles, Steve, Todd and Dirk pitched in to buy a Vietnam-era Arriflex 16mm camera. Corey Gavitt joined the team that fall bringing to life TGR's first lifestyle apparel line and TGR officially began.
Photographer: Todd Jones Collection
Athletes: Todd Jones
1996 | 16mm Film/The Continuum
In the 90's, film cost $100 to shoot three minutes of footage. There was no instant review, and none of the TGR crew has any film school experience. Film was loaded backwards, over-exposed, or balled into an impossible tangle inside the camera. Eventually, the crew found their rhythm and magic started to happen. After another Spring guiding in Valdez and filming on the side, they were once again out of money and went back to fishing to replenish the coffers, later returning home to end their first film. On October 19, 1996 TGR premiered Continuum at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, WY. In June 2013, The Continuum was inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame as a pivotal film in the history of the sport.
2000 | Haines, Alaska
Valdez, AK had been the mecca for big mountain riding for almost a decade until commercial heli-skiing slowly took over. The days of terrain exploration in Valdez were coming to an end and the majority of first descents had already been ridden. The desire to adventure into the unknown remained strong. Steve and Todd recalled being in awe at the peaks outside of Haines, AK years before while on their way to the fishing docks in Southeast Alaska. In 2000, TGR launched an exploratory mission into the Chilkat Mountains. For the next 5 years, the TGR crew pioneered these rugged peaks and opened up what would become one of the foremost locations for big mountain skiing.
Photographer: Tony Harrington
Athletes: Sage Cattabriga-alosa, Victoria Jealouse, Jeremy Nobis, Corey Gavitt, Todd Jones and Tony Harrington
2001 | Expansion into Multisport
Since it's inception, TGR's mission has been to be the pre-eminent action sports lifestyle brand, and to embody the culture of adventure. It has never been about a single sport, but more so a feeling from pushing the limits of gravity and chasing the unknown. While the early TGR merchandise catalogues and website featured shots of snow, bike, surf, B.A.S.E, and various other gravity-fed activities, TGR had yet to produce a feature film project outside of snow. In 2001, TGR released their first surf film, Gondwana, and their first kayak film, Nurpu. By this time the company's website, TetonGravity.com had become a premiere destination for action sports enthusiasts. TGR began to transform into a full-blown media company, focusing on content creation and distribution.
Athlete: Raimana Van Bastolaer
2002-2012 | TGR Breaking Barriers
In 2002, TGR was named by Outside Magazine as "One of the 20 Most Influential Companies in the Outdoor Industry". The next 10 years represented a whirlwind of progression, awards, and fast track growth. TGR began to produce television episodes and series for NBC, Showtime, Fuel TV, Fox Sports, and more. During this time, TGR's camera team became pivotal in the development and testing of new camera technologies, including POV cameras, portable cranes, and 4K cameras. TetonGravity.com continued its development as a leading website for adventure and action sports, with the infamous forums acting as an early form of social media. Site traffic grew to over one million uniques per month as TGR embraced new methods of media distribution. TGR had caught the eye of the mainstream, and Steve Jobs singled out TGR's content in his 2008 Apple Keynote Address to a worldwide audience.
2013 | GSS
In 2013, TGR invested $750,000 in a state-of-the-art prototype 4K gyro-stabilized camera platform. The camera was capable of shooting the world's sharpest, richest aerial/motion cinematography. The days of hanging outside of a helicopter, strapped and handholding cameras, were officially over. The boys spent the next two years working closely with GSS to refine the system through extensive field testing. The system is now used for aerial scenes in major Hollywood feature films, high-end commercials, and award-winning television shows. In 2014 Steve, Todd and Jeremy Jones were featured on CBS' 60 Minutes as groundbreaking industry leaders.
2015 | unReal
In 2015, TGR produced its first feature length mountain bike film, unReal. unReal went on to win multiple awards and was the number one selling mountain bike film of all time on iTunes. The film is also known for the "One Shot" webisode, featuring Brandon Semenuk's mind-bending, continuous ride down a custom built trail that is hailed as the longest continuous shot in action sports filmmaking. Later that year, TGR's editorial feature The Unfound: Bryan Iguchi, was nominated for a prestigious Webby Award in the category "Best Branded Experience," alongside larger media companies like Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, CNN and The Wall Street Journal.
Photographer: S Lorence
Athlete: Tom Van Steenberger
2016 | Higher TV Series
In 2016, TGR was nominated for two Sports Emmy Awards for their original television series, Higher TV, about the adventures of their younger brother Jeremy Jones, who had since become world-renowned big-mountain snowboarding legend. The nominations were in categories of Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary and Outstanding Camera Work, and went up against ABC, the NFL network, NBC and HBO.