Interview by Ethan Stone
Dave Levin.... the man, the mystery. Two years ago he produced a small-time, mediocre digital ski film out of Mammoth; now he's double-timing for Armada and Poor Boyz Productions. Newschoolers.com sets out to find out just how Dave went from being a nobody to being... a very influential nobody.
NS: So Dave, are you really as ridiculous as all of us on NS have been led to believe?
Dave: Ridiculous? Really really ridiculously good looking, maybe...
I thought Boyd had that locked down.
I taught him everything he knows.
Big words from a little man.... but speaking of Boyd Easley and Armada advertisements, you're working for the big boys now?
Yes sir... I have been since the beginning.
I was fishing for a job description with that question.
So your response to my answer could have been... and what is it exactly you do for Armada? And to that I would say, my technical title is Art Director.
Does that entail advertisement? Clothing? Ski graphics? All of the above?
I'm in charge of visual communication for the company... and since we are the little guys, that means I do it all: advertisements, catalogs, clothing, etc. I work in conjunction with our director of marketing and the team riders, fielding everyone's opinions and then working with them and making everyone happy. Currently I'm working on our clothing line for the ski show in January; I'm fielding art and designs from a bunch of diffent people. For instance, one of our athletes, Julien (Regnier), happens to be a very artistic fellow, so he is whipping up some clothing designs that we are going to be showing at Vegas.
Dave's job is to sit around and make silly graphics like this.
Do you have a cubicle? They didn't give you an office, did they?
Actually, I do have my own office... it's back in the back of the building away from everyone else. They told me it was better that way because I would be less distracted. But I think it's because I work 18-hour days, never shower, and they were just sick of smelling me.
Tell us the average Dave Levin workday.
Well... lately I've been sleeping in a little because I've been up late working on the new website (special thanks to Matt Harvey for the tag team effort on the site), so I've been sleeping in until nine or so. I wake up, roll out of bed and walk a hundred yards down the street to check the surf. If its good, I go and surf, otherwise I get in my truck and drive to get coffee, then motor over to the office where I play on my computer all day long, and into the night.
If you don't mind me saying this for the rest of the skiing community... fuck you.
They probably love it when you sneak out and work for Poor Boyz.
Video was how I got into this whole deal. Basically, if you want to be in the ski industry, make a sketchy first video, somehow get the guys at Freeze to write a really bad review of it... then slander the hell out of them. Then Johnny (Decesare) somehow takes pity on you and lets you work for him.
How'd you hook it up with Johnny D and Poor Boyz?
I met him at the Vegas ski show the season Scandalous came out... at the Powder Movie Awards actually, and we were pretty intoxicated, and he was like, "Well, bummer review they gave you dude." This was right when he was starting up Poor Boyz Distribution, so he offered to help
distribute my movie. About a week later, he was over at our house in Mammoth meeting with (Eric) Iberg about Stereotype, and I had just gotten like the first ever DVD-R drive and I was super hyped on it. I offered to make Johnny's teaser for Happy Dayz and author a DVD he could give to his sponsors. He took me up on it, and it took off from there.
Last winter I lived up in Whistler for three months filming for Johnny with our team guys Anthony (Boronowski), JP (Auclair), and Julien, so it was really a "two birds with one stone" kinda deal. It was an incredible experience as well. People really have no idea how much work getting shots in the Whistler backcountry is. Learning to ride a sled around in big mountains is an adventure unto its own... the first thing I did was crash Johnny's new snowmobile into a tree.
On the other hand, he makes cool graphics like this, too.
The burning question on my mind is: So you made some poorly reviewed ski movie out of Mammoth... now you've got not one, but two jobs that most aspiring skiers out there would kill for. How the hell did you do it, charm and good looks aside?
Basically, I was in the right place at the right time more often than not. If I had to pin me being where I am now on one person other than myself, it would be Eric Spriet; he was the guy at the bottom of the chain. I met him in Mammoth and we decided to move in together. We
wanted to make a ski video so I got a camera and a computer and away we went. Eric is a pretty decent skier, he can hold his own, and he has a personality that I can only describe as infectious. It's really hard not to be his friend. So we were skiing around Mammoth, and that was the year everyone moved there- Tanner (Hall), etc. So Eric and Tanner got to be like buddy-buddy, and I started shooting with Tanner, and it just took off from there. Lots of people have helped me out... Eric Iberg, Johnny, (Greg) Strokes at Oakley.
Did you get involved with Armada through Tanner?
I first heard about it from Iberg... we were living together in Mammoth. Later that summer I was in Whistler shooting interviews for the Happy Dayz bonus features and Johnny introduced me to Chris O'Connell (Armada's Director of Marketing). Johnny gave me the big props to O'Connell and I guess it worked... I guess knowing everyone else that was involved helped too. Right place, right time. You ever seen The Big Lebowski?
Of course, man.
Just like that, huh?
I dunno if I'm in the same category as the Dude... he's pretty bitchin.
The Dude is in a category of his own, for sure.
But anyways, thats how I got here.
How long until you're CEO of Wal-Mart?
I got that shit on lock down, gimme till the 3rd quarter of 2005.
So what can you tell me about where skiing is going--- and what part Armada might play in that?
Well, I think skiing is taking a pretty big turn right now...down a happy road. Armada is based in the middle of Southern California, and some might think thats ridiculous place to run a ski company, but its 100% the opposite. We are a stone's thow away from some of the most creative people in action sports: Volcom, Hurley, etc... I want Armada to bring that kind of creativity and freshness to back to skiing, giving back to the sport... making it better for everyone.
Are you envisioning skiing on top of the action sports world?
Well I dunno, not necessarily... that would be cool, I'd like to see skiing right alongside skateboarding and surfing, but I think it's more important that action sports as a whole gain more recognition. They have already for sure, and they hold a very unique appeal due to the fact that they are INDIVIDUAL sports, and humans as individuals can identify very easily with something like skiing or skateboarding, where it's just you and whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. And I think that it's going to happen... I look in skate parks, and you have Kye Peterson ripping on a skateboard like its no one's business, and skiing, and people are encouraging it. Ten or fifteen years ago that would have been unheard of. I want to see kids skateboarding in PE in elementary school instead of playing baseball.
Dave's main job at Armada is to accent the natural beauty of Armada's skis and riders. Tony likes what Dave does- don't you?
That's crazy... but it's also the future. You've definitely set some high standards for the industry to live up to.
And we are just getting started... the best is yet to come.
How are you planning to spend this winter-- in an Armada office or in the backcountry with PBP?
I'm definitely the office guy nowadays, but I like it every bit as much as the video guy. I love what I do. And when I do get bored, the beach is a two-minute drive down the road, so I go and surf. I guess I should add that I'm doing a little freelance work as well.
You didn't put out your own movie last year-- has the Scandalous and Blunt legacy come to an end?
I really would like to make another movie, and I imagine I will... maybe not this year, maybe not next year... At some point ARMADA will have a team video, and I imagine I'd be helping with that. Making a ski video is such an involved experience. It totally consumes everything you do, I'm not sure if someone who's never experienced making a film could fully understand, I can't even imagine what it would be like to shoot a feature film, hollywood style. That would be intense. I want to make a ski movie like Pulp Fiction. I dunno how you could do it, but it would be frickin sweet.
Make sure to cast Tanner as a gangster.
He's the Mafia don... Scarface.
Besides movies, should we be expecting anything new out of Armada soon? More skis?
I could tell you but I'd have to kill you. Nah, but seriously, we have barely gotten started, I promise big things are on the way.
BIG thanks to everyone that I've met along the way, I've met so many people, and too many of them have helped me so I don't want to name anyone to be fair to the others I'd forget. I don't take any of it granted for a second... I love what I do and I feel like the luckiest guy alive to be where I am. It's been an incredible journey thus far, and I can't wait to see where it goes. I'll see you when we get there.
Click here for Part 1