/ho͝od/ noun --a neighborhood, especially one's own neighborhood.
/ˈkrü/ noun -- a group of people who work closely together.
The Hood Crew in the words of Danny Schwartz, The Hood Crew Team Manager
Skiing is hilarious. Spend more time riding with your kids on the sledding hill before you take things too seriously when planning out a family vacation that encourages stress and expenses. Watch FINITO and maybe consume some THC and try riding through some powder without your poles too.
Tell us what skiing means to you?
Danny Schwartz: The most gratifying activity I have found in life. A great mix of adventure, music, friendship, adversity, euphoria, gratification, and ongoing entertainment. I've had ongoing surreal experiences and memories from skiing. Sometimes the surreal nature of what we do is what actually makes it possible. By seeing things in a funny, not so serious light, that can take off some of the edge and pressure that comes with what others might regard as an "extreme" high-risk activity.
Skiing is so beautiful because as you continue to progress, you begin understand that anything is possible on skis when you break free from norms and challenge yourself a bit and get out of your comfort zone. The more I have come to realize that I can really do (or at least attempt) anything I set my mind to on skis, I appreciate that a lot more is possible in our lives and the world around us than we are often aware of.
This goes with the concept of infinity. There are obviously rules in place that constrict things into working a certain way. But those rules can be bent, loopholes can be found, different approaches can lead to different outcomes. I see creativity as being our ultimate form of gratification and fulfillment. We should all spend our lives constantly learning and creating and not getting too tied down by our own repetitive habits, inhibitions, and fears of the unknown.
What are your thoughts on social media?
Social media is a great resource for communicating but can easily become over consuming. We should all spend more time constantly creating new memories out in the world than trying to relive old one's through social media.
And role models?
Obviously, it's important to learn and be influenced by others but it often gets taken too far. People are complicated and often flawed. You should strive to be your biggest role model and use the lifestyles, culture, and knowledge of others as a guide but not means to an end.
What about role models in skiing?
Sports, in general, have been notorious for providing less than ideal role models. It's the juxtaposition between someone being really good in one aspect of life but not necessarily being the most reputable citizens as a whole. Once again, strive to be your own role model because the more you learn from past mistakes and develop strong values of your own, the more you'll see your quality of life improve and inspire those around you who are having their own struggles.
Honestly though, Heffy is a huge role model. He was incredibly successful at everything he put energy into and was a super charismatic humbling person to be around. He brought out the best in people! Heffy was someone I looked up to and I believe many of us continue to aspire to be like.
Can illusion and authentic self live side by side? Is it necessary to eliminate illusion or can changing our relationship with it be a more achievable objective?
This is an intimidating two sentences to read. Let me start with the first, illusion and authentic self have the ability to live side by side situationally but not forever. There is often a challenge for the illusion to parallel well with authentic self and this is where we have the opportunity to make respectable choices or give in to indulgence, greed, and other not so positive animalistic traits.
We should not eliminate illusion but rather change our relationship with the illusion where we understand that we are presented with choices on an hourly basis and strive to continue to make good ones instead of giving into what we find easy and convenient. This is important because many choices occur in a spontaneous "heat of the moment" situation so the more often we make "good" ones, the easier it will be to make the "right" choice when there is not too much of an opportunity for contemplation. By "good" choices, I mean one's that align well with your personal values – and hopefully, those are positive values.
What is your least favourite aspect of the ski industry?
The juxtaposition between skiing being an amazing badass sport that get's paralleled with not so sustainable lifestyle choices such as over-consumption of drugs, alcohol, and overuse of social media.
In other words, spending too much time off skis raving about the sport than actually going out and enjoying skiing for what it is. Also, the idea that everything needs to be filmed and documented has become a little excessive where sometimes there's too much of a focus on skiing for a camera. Would you go out and hit urban without a camera? – probably not, and that's understandable but how much of an influence does having a camera around have on the way you ski and the choices you make?
You guys haven't gotten much love from traditional ski media. What's the deal?
Our lack of professionalism definitely prevents us from getting more love and support throughout the ski industry. I think there's a lot of people who get a kick out of what we do but don't want to support it because it's not all too clean.
What about sponsors?
The general vibe of The Hood Crew is fairly mixed so that hasn't been detrimental to funding our season. We don't strive to make our media inappropriate, the goal is rather to keep things open, genuine, and relatable. If we filmed all our shots on high-quality cameras and didn't include any falls or outtakes, sponsors would probably be more prone to come to us. Instead, we try to produce stuff that the general public can relate to. Hoodcrew is for the people.
We generally haven't been seeking out sponsors as a crew, instead, riders deal with that individually. Planks Clothing was supporting us for a minute and helped provide the funding for our winch so a big thank you to them. STASH POLES has and continues to be a great supporter of the crew. We are currently distributing our 2015 movie through DROMAS APPAREL and have plans to produce more clothing through them, following up on the 2013 Freed The Streets shirt.
Finally, NEWSCHOOLERS.COM has been our primary sponsor for the past four years. We have developed a good working relationship with NS and have been releasing the majority of our content exclusively through their website.
Let's talk stairskiing.
Started out as me goofing around when I'd get frustrated at an urban spot watching my friends not commit to a feature. I thought it would help with hitting urban handrails when I'd fall into the stairs but then I started to realize that riding stairs can be even more fun than trying to hit handrails because there's no setup required.
Don't think stairskiing's fully blown up yet but shoutout to Kellan Baker, Totally Trevor, Michael Hibbs, and The Bunch for being some of the few other skiers to progress this unique interpretation of the sport... Honestly, it's a great way to ski when there's no snow around.
This GoPro video I submitted to the Line of the Winter competition somewhat helped promote stairskiing but not necessarily in an inspirational way (in part because GoPro added extra sounds to the video to make it more intense at the beginning along with adding a fake car alarm noise in my outrun).
Is this trend a good or bad thing for action sports?
I don't really see that as being too much of a trend specific to action sports, I think that's just become a huge part of social media in general. It's good for action sports and an athlete in terms of getting some exposure, but it becomes problematic if your main focus is to exploit what you're doing simply to go viral. I think it's more badass to have good footage that you know has the potential to get some good exposure but put it out through the right medium at the right time and not be overly concerned about selling yourself out just to gain internet fame.
Pretty much this stuff is all just entertainment, but the whole viral aspect of it can definitely go a little overboard. Social media makes a little more sense to me when you're sharing stuff with people you more or less know. Getting likes from random fans is where this all starts to get a bit more superficial because then people start to create more of a fictional image of themselves.
From your perspective, how's the reaction been to say, a more traditional ski edit?
If by more traditional you mean our style of filming home video's with "dad cams," then there's been mixed reactions. Some people understand 100% where we're coming from while others might think we're deliberately holding ourselves back. The goal is to make skiing and the production of ski media seem accessible, which it usually is with some basic equipment and motivated friends.
Some ski media don't paint that picture whatsoever, especially not when you have athletes getting filmed by helicopters or movies focusing primarily on all the adversities of skiing in the city. We aren't deliberately trying to hold ourselves back, but simply use what we got, which isn't expensive camera gear or people with any sort of professional filming experience.
What kind of media does the crew consume and enjoy?
Some people have fallen in love with Instagram. I'm pretty hyped on Snapchat and think it's amazing how you can film the equivalent of a short banger ski edit on Snapchat any given day. The goal is to give the snap stories more spontaneous flow so they become more comical and entertaining, as opposed to just filming banger skiing. It's the idea of telling more of a story on Snapchat, which can be tricky because that usually is done on a computer in post production.
Tell us what The Hood Crew is up to this winter.
This was our first year getting to use the winch in the streets of Salt Lake City, and we definitely put it to good use. It's recently been snowing a ton in the Wasatch so a lot of good footage has been coming out of Alta too. Thanks to Heffy and the snow gods for all the love. Been a great year so far and hopefully the momentum can keep going strong for the spring and summer.
Who out of the crew has had the most success?
Scrappy had the most success for a minute and has definitely been a big face of "The Hood Crew." He's incredibly energetic and can really help motivate and inspire everyone around him when he's up on the hill. There're obviously mixed opinions on Scrappy and like I said earlier, people are complicated and often flawed. I have had some of the best and worst experiences of my life with Scrappy. He has always been one of my best friends and he is the reason that I fell in love with freeskiing in the first place.
I just realized this while writing this interview. I have known Scrappy for nine years. We are the reason the Hoodcrew name turned into an actual solid film crew. I am writing this interview due to meeting Joey back in 2007. Forster, Briggs, and A4 all have been the most integral members of the crew since 2011 and I'm pretty sure they all met Scraps before they met me.
Essentially this is what I'm realizing. This is all meant to be. I would not be producing movies if I hadn't become good friends with Joey. There would be no Freed the Streets and it is very unlikely that I would have ever skied down a set of stairs.. or off a roof.
When Joey and I visited Forster in California a few days after Heff passed away, we all talked about the history of our friendships and how they have grown into The Hood Crew, incorporating homies from across the country including Brad, Wabs, Rudolph, and Heff from Ohio. I actually didn't say a whole lot since I was pretty tired; Joey and I had just stayed up all night driving, got in a fight in Vallejo at 4 in the morning, and then were drinking beer for breakfast at 7 am. I wasn't allowed to have any beer for breakfast so I was fairly silent but the conversation pretty much made me cry as I saw how amazingly the strings of life can tie together. It was insane how Meeks and Scrappy met in the summer of 2010 and how that friendship had brought so many more people into the crew who all shared this love for skiing and the family that skiing creates.
I got the exact feeling that morning that this was all meant to be. Fate? Could you also say destiny? I think I believe in free-will but maybe I don't understand that philosophical term well enough because I thought destiny and free-will are opposites. Either way, here we are and we make choices every day, some better thought through than others, some that have a better outcome than others, some that just happen without us really thinking about it. In retrospect, as you examine some of the choices, experiences, and friendships from years earlier in your life, it may surprise you how some choices that you don't even remember deliberately making have affected your current values and how you're living in the present.
Meeting Joey in retrospect doesn't seem like it was ever a choice. We talked on Newschoolers and realized we only lived a few miles from each other, linked up one day over the summer, and then started skiing a ton together the following 07-08 season. That's what I find perplexing. It seems inevitable that Scrappy and I became friends and what followed was just too simple. Skiing would bring us the most amazing experiences, stories, and adventures we'd ever had so we continued to integrate other good friends/ passionate skiers into our lives.
Who's next in the spotlight?
Young Wabs and The Kid. But really, what's next in the spotlight is you when you go night skiing by yourself, jump off cliffs, and slash through pow. The spotlight doesn't apply to us cause none of us are celebrities, we're just a bunch of cartoon characters. The question is who writes the plot for the cartoon book? Who draws the characters?
Why drop the DVD in December and not the fall?
That was a huge blunder. Selling DVDs in the first place is tricky and selling a ski movie in December was even more of a problem.
A version of the movie was complete in September for iF3, but after watching it with two friends later that month, I got the feeling that overall the movie wasn't that great and distributing DVDs would be a waste of time. I talked to Wabs and he agreed that there were problems with the film. Wabs was in Hawaii at the time, which I have come to learn is a very inspiring place to edit. He produced this season's mini-movie out there and reworked the intro for The Boolers Ball.
No one should edit a thirty-minute film all by themselves, since there's a lot that can be gained from having the help of close friends. To put it simply, a movie should always be a crew effort. I felt that the way Wabs reworked the intro really helped the Heffy tribute come alive... I don't think I ever would have had the creative outlook to create an intro like that myself.
I took a month off from working on the movie throughout October and then came back to it and finished up the bonus during the first few weeks of November. Everything was finalized by mid-November but it still took another few weeks for the DVDs to get manufactured and shipped out. We set up a pre-sale, which was far from ideal because the movie was already long overdue and now people were ordering a product that they wouldn't even receive for another 10 days.
The timing of The Boolers Ball turned into a mess where we should have been selling DVDs as early as September 1st. The truth is around September 1st, I was working on the film for a week straight, searching for the right music so I could get a good version submitted to If3. I believe the movie itself, along with the bonus features, DVD, and case all turned out amazing but unfortunately, come December, the market wasn't there. We still want to get the physical DVD's out too as many people as possible and so The Boolers Ball is now available for $6.
What's the plan for the next release?
The idea of DVDs was to get people together to watch the movie in a better setting than sitting on a computer full of distractions with an easy opportunity to skip through the film.
The plans for our next release are a step beyond hard copies/ online media, and that is a focus on premieres. When I was living in Colorado, I went to Stept's "Network" premiere and the movie blew me away. I went by myself but the premiere setting still made me feel apart of the crowd and the movie. While watching it, I thought, "this is one of the best ski movies I've ever seen." It still definitely is one of the best ski movies ever made and I think part of the reason I feel that way is because I first saw it at a premiere in the fall of 2010, and I'd never seen a whole movie of urban skiing like that before. The ender was Cam spinning off a closeout that was a couple buildings away from where the premiere was hosted, Sammy C built one of the biggest jumps to ever exist on Palmer that summer, giving the movie great balance, and Network had a standout soundtrack. Hail Mary in Clayton's segment opens the film with a fucking banger.
I think I love music as much as I love skiing or anything else in life. Music is what makes a movie come alive/ frames video clips a certain way. Being able to premiere a movie allows you to really enjoy the audio/ music as much as the visual and attending an event with a bunch of friends/ family only makes the experience better.. even if you go by yourself.
What have you learned about marketing and selling product?
Well, the Thirsty sales were essentially all profits, while this year it was a struggle to break-even. Learned to make your manufacturing costs as cheap as possible and do good forecast planning. Make sure you have a product that people want and that you have it out to them at the right time. Sell stuff in person, not on the internet.
Or don't, and just give it away for free. It's called "gifting" and it's a great way to avoid taxes or getting arrested for selling illegal substances.
You guys can't possibly keep this up. What's next for everyone?
Keep creating entertaining ski/ snowboard media that makes people smile and can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come. Keep skiing too and eventually doing 360's with our grandkids.
Honestly, the list is endless as far as what I have in mind. I want to create a good "dad-camera" that is primarily made for snowsports but is also great for using as a "dad-cam" and filming piano recitals/ graduations/ weddings. The camera is idealistic but I believe it is something that I could greatly benefit from when filming skiing/ filming anything. Camera's are everywhere, don't get me wrong, but this is customized to fit a need that I currently have and believe others could find useful too. The best way to describe this would be a combination of…
Our approach to skiing right now is focused on accessibility. The camera's I've been using aren't nearly as accessible as they could be, so hopefully I can improve on that issue and make a product of value.
Find what's lacking in your life and try to create it. Start with the small things, like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth if that's an issue for you. From there look at things like music, and good playlists. Burn more CD's. Try and make or find music mixes that are so good you never have to worry about changing songs. That's something I know is lacking in my life and Pandora isn't a mix as much as it is a sponsored playlist.
What's next is the progression of a society that uses technology as the amazing resource that it is without becoming over-consumed by it.
Creating a simple website that has a copy of our 2016 movie is definitely in the cards. It will be "pick-your-own-price" so any money you provide will be accepted as a gift. Think about it like someone in the park playing guitar with an open box accepting offerings. If you don't want to plug in a credit card or bother with giving us "real money," we'll also provide a screen full of emoji offerings so we still know how you felt about the film.
We won't be making movies forever so the focus will eventually turn to supporting and inspiring positivity in the next generation. The world is yours.
When are you going to get your own pro-model stair ski? J Lev, we're looking at you.
Once I really take stair-skiing to the world and start riding some of the more majestic stairs across Asia, Russia, and the middle-east such as this one.
Good chance this will never happen and hopefully, I'll find other ways to make myself a little more valuable to society.
Send us a banger from Canada and we'll run it. Ball's in your court!
Sounds good. Scope me out some good stair lines.
Any last advice for someone dropping into a heavy feature?
Drop in with a smile, you're more likely to succeed at whatever you're trying and it makes for a better photo too.
Favourite street skier? Anders Fornelius, Magnus Graner, Phil Casabon, and Cheddar for keeping it real banged up in the streets since day one
Favourite park skier? Torin Yater-Wallace and Keegan Killbride
What song gets you fired up in the morning? E-40: Choices
What comes to mind when you think of Canada? Moose, Whistler BC, Poutine, and tranquility.
What comes to mind when you think of SBC Skier? The best ski magazine North of the United States.
Best Canadian skier? B-Dog, also Leigh Powis, Hugo Pelletier, the Tabarnak Pack, Sean Pettit, JF Houle, JP Auclair, Matt Margetts, and the Voleurz crew
Who's your favourite skier's favourite skier? Heffnasty
Much love to Danny Schwartz from The Hood Crew for taking the time to answer our questions. Interview by SBC Skier editor / photo editor Jason Mousseau. Original article posted on http://www.sbcskier.com
Follow SBC Skier on social media:
Instagram @sbcskier – Facebook @sbcskier – Twitter @sbcskier
Stay connected with The Hood Crew:
Instagram @thehoodcrew69 – Facebook @hoodcrewdoohwerc – Snapchat @thehoodcrew69
Thanks to all those who support THC:
Stash Poles – Dromas Apparel – Newschoolers.com