Here’s an interview I did with the Vail Resorts blog buzz.snow
You can read the edited version here, but I think for the sake of brevity, a bit of context was lost and I sound like an asshole. Here is the original version I submitted where everyone gets the props the deserve.
Give me a little background on your crew- how did you get started in film? Who are the skiers? Who films/edits/produces?
I started filming probably about seven years ago when I was still in high school. My buddy had a little digital camera and we made a snowskate and snowboard edit with a couple friends. There was one shot of me knuckling a jump on some rec skis in there too. We were complete gapers and loving every minute of it. From there, it was just getting clips all the time, winter or summer, whatever sport and dreaming big.
The skiers are simply just us and our friends. I?ve never thought about taking filming skiing seriously enough to like, seek out bigger and bigger names to shoot with you know? It?s not about workin? hard to get banger shots and to show off, its just simply, documentation. This is what we did, let me show you it because it was a blast. I spend as much time in front of the camera as behind it, its a crew thing, we just take laps and hot potato the camera back and forth. I think I like skiing too much to take filming to the next level.
I kinda filled in a sort of, director role for Too Nice. We had a different four man production crew last year, and the other three guys besides me moved out west, so, as the ?veteran? I?m trying to guide the progress of the movie. I sought out the help of three new filmers to make it another real collaboration. We all take shots, get shots, and edit the shots. It?s very much a team effort.
I see that MN is the clear inspiration/influence for Nice. How did that collaboration start, and what was the success of that film?
The idea about a statewide collaboration movie in Minnesota has been kickin? around for a quite a while, I want to say around 2005. A now good friend of mine, Steve Janisch pitched the idea that all the crews in the state should get together and put together a banger edit to show everyone what Minnesota was all about. It was dubbed ?The Minnesota Movie? and after talking back and forth forever, the idea fizzled and died. You can read the thread right here on Newschoolers actually, there?s like 20 pages or something ridiculous like that, http://www.newschoolers.com/web/forums/readthread/thread_id/196804/.
Two years ago, I came in as a freshman at UMD and met David Baillargeon and Jake Strassman (he?s the guy who was in that director role last year, Jake really made Nice happen), a Senior and a Junior at the time. We were all filmers in the same city riding the same hill, and we all started editing movies at the end of the season, so we decided to throw a couple movie premieres with all our flicks. Its always a good time to get the whole community together and watch each other ski on the big screen. A few months and a fair bit of head scratching later, we figured we might as well combine our efforts and finally make the Minnesota Movie happen. We wanted it to be Minnesota from the inside out, the skiers, the locations, the music, everything. I should mention, Travis Halverson was the fourth member of Nice?s crew, he?s been making sweet local movies with David for a long time, but that?s another story.
Nice did something special for our scene. We made like a hundred DVDs, some stickers, and a few dozen shirts, and that?s a ton of cash to invest into local movie swag, or so we thought. We did three premieres of it, two in Minnesota and one in Milwaukee at the Midwest Ski Film Festival. After the last premiere, we were basically cleaned out. I couldn?t believe how much stoke and demand Nice had generated, it was unlike any local movie we?d had around before. Nice got us national attention. Hell, we even shipped DVDs to England and Germany too. We had more people asking for DVDs than we had made. I still have kids asking me for stickers all the time. I mean, we definitely didn?t throw down the biggest tricks on the gnarliest features by a long shot. We didn?t slide as many handrails as we probably should have, but what we did do, was create this kind of unity that brought the state together. I?m really proud of what we accomplished.
Does the sequel, Too Nice, carry the same MN flava?? Or did you spend time filming elsewhere?
We?re technically not calling Too Nice a sequel. Without Jake, Dave, and Travis, I don?t think it can properly be called one. It?s mostly new people, so it?s just a tribute to Nice and all it did to bring us all together. It does follow the same formula though, Minnesota skiers, locations, and music all the way through.
We filmed quite a bit more than what was seen in Nice last year, other places in the midwest and out west. That stuff is tucked away in the bonus features and Too Nice will be the same. I spent quite a bit of time traveling elsewhere this year, four weeks in Colorado and three or four to Mt. Hood Oregon. A lot of the stuff we did out west would probably look great in the movie, but it?s not fitting with the theme, so off to the bonus section or the internet it goes.
What has been the response to ski films coming out of the Midwest? Admittedly, it?s not a mecca of skiing. How are you overcoming that perception?
For the most part, I would say it?s positive. There?s people that hate, you know like ?those tricks weren?t that hard? or ?less park, more urban? but like, that?s not really what we?re going for. For me, this movie is all about the spirit and friendship of Minnesota skiers. It?s a movie for the everyday skier you know? Like, let Level 1 come in and slay our handrails, that?s cool. We?re not making a Level 1 or Poor Boyz movie in any way. Everyone around here gets stoked on local flicks, and they have been for years, because it?s them and their friends ripping around like they do everyday.
I don?t think about overcoming perceptions really. Minnesota will never be a destination for awesome terrain, that?s a given. People will say what they want to say. Minnesota has produced some nasty, nasty skiers over the years, that?s a fact. Too Nice isn?t going to say, ?oh hey those guys are making do with what they have,? either, even though we tend to do a fair bit of that. It?s just about us having a damn good time. I think, in a time when most skiers are taking things too seriously, we?re just kinda chilling and doing whatever. A 70/30 urban to park ratio would be banger, but I?m lazy and so are most of my friends.
Who are your sponsors? How do you make the films happen?
Too Nice is sponsored by our mothers, student loans, and my credit card company. There?s no question, making a movie is expensive. You can blow through a lot of gas traveling to ski other parks and scouting and setting up an urban with the whole shebang, drop in, genny, lights. In an effort to cut down on stress and annoying phone calls from aforementioned sponsors, we try and do it simple and cheap.
Us as skiers, there?s several of us out there in the flick that get some flow support you know, but some free skis or gloves doesn?t make a movie happen. Like I said, it?s a DIY thing. We take it out of pocket and film ourselves doin? what we do. Also, we are really good at being gypsies. The last time I went to Jack in the Box, I left with about 732 packets of taco sauce. I put them in the basket I walked out of Safeway with.
Some people I do have to thank for supporting us for real though, are the fine people at Continental Ski and Bike for forking over the cash to bring in the pro movies to headline our premieres. I?m glad they continue to do so because it?s nice to involve local shops in the local scene. Plus, I like my minimum payments where they are.
When does Too Nice release? Any plans to take it on tour?
Too Nice will be out this fall. Hopefully we?ll do a repeat of last years mini premiere tour. I?m hoping to take the flick to some of the farther out scenes in the state. You can?t bring the state together if you are leaving people out! Also, we?re gonna kick it out online for free after the new year.
Any plans to make another film?
I think I?ll be making movies and edits for as long as I?m skiing. I don?t have plans to continue the Minnesota Movie theme though. I?m traveling more and more these days, and it will be harder and harder to document Minnesota skiing and do it justice when I spend less and less time there. Who knows though, there?s always a new generation to pick it up. Plus, everyone knows sequels suck and a third movie, call it ?Still Nice,? would probably be about as good as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3.