Interview by Brandon Ascher
The ski film production game has changed a lot since freeskiing’s inception. With so many new companies, technologies and ways to release media to the masses, things seem to just keep getting better and better for everyone out there who’s hungry for ski porn. One of the many great things to happen to the ski film industry was when just a few short years ago, all of the younger "am" production companies began to emerge, though the term "am" could hardly be used after a few winters. This was where the new faces and styles were making their presence felt in the scene, while acting as a perfect window into the next generation. Stept Productions has remained relevant, consistent and at the forefront of originality and creativity, all while keeping a high production value with a very limited budget. Brothers Nick and Alex Martini along with Connor Scofield lead the charge, but their crew spans far across the continent. Following Nick’s injury last winter, the big man took over almost all of the filming responsibilities along with his right hand man and co-director Cam Riley. It is without a doubt that the Stept Productions crew are some of the most hard-working guys in the ski filmmaking business right now, and always have something up their sleeve to help make their films that much more memorable. To coincide with the release of their trailer, I recently had the chance to catch up with Nick and Connor about their eighth film, NetWork. - Brandon Ascher
What's NetWork all about?
Nick: We have never needed anyone else really but us, our network of skiers. The kids in our movie do everything from filming to editing and even outsourcing graphics to Newschoolers kids. We filmed a lot of urban this year and we were always on cell phones trying to meet up and get everything organized, in a business sense too, so networking. The logo for the film is a guy using a cellphone.
Connor: This year’s movie is a joint effort on behalf of all of our friends across the US and Canada to put something together we all can share a part of. The title NetWork symbolizes the diverse and unique connection freeskiing has had on our lives, with introducing us to people and places that would not be possible without skiing.
Cam Riley. Photo: Ian Boll
Who's in it?
Connor: Cam Riley, Nick Martini, Ian Boll, Clayton Vila, Sean Jordan, Tom Warnick, Paul ‘B-Paul’ Bergeron, Charlie Owens, Parker White and a few others.
Segments to watch out for?
Nick: Clayton Villa and Cam Riley both have crazy urban parts. Tom Warnick is the Lucas Magoon of skiing. You'll see. Alex doesn't have much of a part this year though because he was just so deep in AK pretty much all year, just shredding. He did some heli and he’ll have a segment with some sick shit though, but this will be the first year he hasn't had a main segment, which is crazy.
Your soundtracks are always pretty original. What can we expect from you guys in that area?
Nick: We always keep it diverse, and try to stay away from using the same style of music. So expect to hear everything from old rock to electronic to some funkish stuff.
Anything new and exciting in regards to the filmmaking process this year?
Nick: Yeah we actually filmed a bunch of 16mm, which was really cool. Filmed a bunch of it at Hood, along with a lot of the segment intros. Overall about 1/3 of the movie was filmed in 16mm.
Was that your first time shooting 16mm? What was it like?
Nick: Expensive (laughs). We don't have much of a budget so it was tough. We also filmed a lot with the 7D and found that both coincided well with each other.
What do you want people to take away from your movies?
Connor: A sense of who and what Stept really is. Anyone who's watched our movies for years knows that we are not like any other production out there.
Nick: Crazy urban. We always try to have a mix of park, backcountry and rails but this year the majority of the film is urban. Not necessarily the best tricks but definitely some of the crazier, high-risk stuff. Big drops, close outs, kinks. With bungees we were able to do a lot more than we could before and it’s getting pretty crazy.
Cam Riley. Photo: Ian Boll
Why should people check out NetWork?
Nick: A few of the best young riders, like Cam, Clayton and Jordan filmed with us and no one else.
Connor: To be blown away by the next generation of style and innovation on the most technical urban to date.
Clayton Vila, Sean Jordan & Nick Martini. Photo: Ian Boll
What’s the Stept mentality when it comes to making these films?
Nick: Thrown together. Nothing is ever too planned because we like to keep it raw.
Connor: We pretty much individually work our asses off on different projects and then collaborate at the end of the year.
Where can we expect to see some premieres?
Connor: Boulder, Burlington, UNH and Keene are in the works. Stay tuned for more details.
Nick: Huge thanks to Ski the East and Rockstar Energy for helping make this movie possible.
Connor: Shout out to Matt Stauble and Windells. Enjoy the trailer!
NetWork Trailer - Stept Productions 2010 from Nick Martini on Vimeo.
NetWork is now available for pre-order at http://www.steptproductions.com, and be sure to check out Nick Martini’s brand new website at nickmartini.steptproductions.com.