Where did you spend the winter this year getting shots for the movie? Once COVID really hit, how much did that change your plans and how did you get around that?
Gavin Rudy - The urban crew and I spent the season traveling around Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec. Since we were hustling early in the season with Sam while working on his Real Ski, COVID didn’t really impact the urban filming too much, and most street filming happens between November and March anyway. We could have used another week or two in Quebec to round everything out but we’re happy to have essentially filmed all of the street that we intended to.
We regrouped most of the Strictly crew in late May and went up to Beartooth Pass to finish up the film. That was a fun trip to get Calvin and Taylor involved with, as usually the park shoot is the only chance for both crews to get together and film.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t have a park shoot this year - Usually, that happens mid-late April, and we all know how locked down the resorts were at that time.
Andrew Mildenberger - The pow boys and I had trips to Canada, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming this season. We were planning to head back to Canada right when everything shut down, and that definitely cut our season short by at least a month. March and April usually provide for us in a big way on the pow side, so that definitely stung. I’m glad we didn’t try to push anything crazy while the world was in full panic though.
With resorts shutting down early this spring, did you see an influx of traffic while out filming your BC parts or were y’all so far in the boonies it didn’t affect you at all?
Andrew - Nah, I think most of the places we went are places you wouldn’t go to for a typical family vacation. You’d need a sled to get out to the majority of spots we were unless you’re a complete psycho. Every BC trip we went on, besides the Beartooths in late may, were before COVID spread and everything shut down, so I don’t think people knew what was going to happen. I bet though this coming year we’ll see more people in the lots. If you are planning on skiing in the backcountry this year, please take AIARE avalanche classes and tap into similar educational resources. Go with experienced people. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking shuttle laps on a pass or sledding 50k, it's so important for your safety and the safety of others. I’m hyped for people to get in the backcountry, but take it seriously, you are your own safety net.
Sam got a last minute call to join in the X Games Real Ski video contest this year which was pretty damn rad. Did taking the time to film for that turn into an issue later on down the line with stacking clips for his Bermuda part?
Gavin - Not at all, Sam’s mid-December real ski nomination lit a fire under our ass that got us working hard especially late December and late January. Sam was our priority for filming while he wasn’t injured, so we were all working hardest for him for a while. But street skiing is tough and Sam wasn’t skiing every single day, so Real Ski never got in the way of anyone else in the movie getting shots. We usually settle into a bit of a rotation where everyone takes turns hitting their own spots and Real Ski didn’t change that very much.
There is controversy surrounding recycling released footage for a movie project, especially reusing clips from Real Ski. But whether it’s “core” or not, we filmed all of Sam’s Real Ski as the Strictly family and that footage is equally a part of the story of Bermuda as everything else that’s unreleased from the movie. It is a great chance to reinterpret the footage that we had to condense and distill into 1.5 minutes for ESPN - To help refresh that segment, Andrew took the reigns in editing Sam’s part to incorporate a different style than what I made for Real Ski.
Sam gettin' sideways.
Andrew - Hyped that Sam got that and that early in the season I was around to help out too. I filmed a bit of street this year which was so sick. The pow boys helped out too when they were around and it was rad to see everyone hop in the mix to help where they could. Ethan and Benny ended up on a late night mission with us and ended up getting a street clip each too. We mighta forgot to put them in the movie though, oops hahaha.
Sam taking the faster way down.
Any major injuries this year besides the pretty gnarly concussion we saw Sam get in his Real Ski seg?
Gavin - Swadburg cracked his sternum on his first day of the season and his health didn’t recover fully until springtime. Taylor rolled her ankle inside her ski boot while we were in the Beartooths. Carson also knocked himself out while wearing a helmet and had to take a trip to the hospital for a concussion.
Head injuries are especially tough to be a part of. Taking a confused friend to the hospital for an MRI in the middle of the night is a dark time for everybody and it’s sobering how delicate and indefinite brain health can be. Wearing a helmet is extremely important to me and I always try to encourage the skiers to wear them, but at the end of the day I’m not any of my friends’ parents, so I can’t force them to do that. I’m proud that Calvin, Pete, Carson, and Sam took wearing a helmet a lot more seriously this year than last year. Sam has a history of head trauma so I straight up won’t film him if he doesn’t wear one. I’d love to see more of our crew put a little more stock into protecting their brains, so I’ll let this be my callout to the rest of y’all - Taylor, Ethan, Benny, Parker, and Levi, think about wearing a helmet. I love y’all and don’t want to have to watch any of you smoke your domes and need to go to the ER. We’re not here to be role models, but it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people look up to us.
INSPIRED SLED GUY SWAZ.
Andrew - Yeah as Gav mentioned, Ethan cracked his sternum on our first day of filming this year. He punted a pretty big cliff and when he landed he kneed himself in the chest, right where his radio was attached to his backpack. The crazy thing was he didn’t know it was cracked for the rest of the trip, kept skiing and ended up working himself again a few days later. The dude is a savage. That was the major injury on the pow side, but everyone is continually battling smaller shit throughout the season.
We saw no Bootleg edit this year, the iF3 nomination videos were a hodgepodge of clips thrown together, and you guys just exported the movie. Rumor has it, EHeath, the volunteer CEO of NS, physically and virtually bullied you guys throughout the entire process.
Gavin - I was taking a shit a few weeks ago and I got a text from EHeath, who’s one of the iF3 judges this year. He called us out for our slacking on getting the film edited and delivered to iF3 for judging - it was nearly October and we hadn’t sent iF3 any content by that point. We got them an athlete cut of just the skiers’ shots so that the skiers had a proper chance at the awards, but we just didn’t have a complete enough cut of the full film so that iF3 could judge the film itself for editing, filming, etc. Congrats to Parker for taking home Discovery of the Year, backing up Sam’s claim to that title from last year.
It was a loose operation this year in post-production and it’s entirely the responsibility of Andrew and I. While we had done a fair amount of organizational work over the course of the filming season, we didn’t really get to focusing on editing the movie until the first week of September. Basically all of our time and energy over the last 8 weeks went straight into editing and planning the release of the movie. Andrew came down to live at my house in Durango for September and October and we spent all day, every day looking at a screen :/ We exported Bermuda on Thursday before driving 6 hours to Denver for the physical premiere on Saturday. Thanks so much to Level 1 for organizing DFFF and blasting our movie out to the world this year in-person, not just online. For welcome, Swadburg edited our Bootleg, but he’s been going hard getting his degree and didn’t have time to boss it out this year. Between lost footage and smashed phones, plus poor logistical organization on my behalf, it just ain’t gonna happen this time. Maybe next year?
Andrew - EHeath called me to tell me that if we didn’t win awards at iF3, the most coveted and respected festival in all of skiing, our careers might be left in the dirt. That hurt because EHeath is the glide god and we really didn’t want to let him down. Hyped for the NS awards though, maybe we can get back on Evan’s good side?
What should people expect from Bermuda compared with the first 2 movies Strictly has shot?
Gavin - Same bullshit with a few fresh ideas. We tried to step it up on both sides of the lens and at the keyboard. COVID was a fun way to reframe how we went into editing the movie. In previous films, we were very aware of deliberately editing the movie in the context of showing it at a physical premiere, so that dictates a lot about the energy of the songs, the pacing of the film, and the overall runtime. But we recognize that, in quarantine world, most of the people watching this movie are going to watch it by themselves, with their family or roommates, on a phone, TV, or laptop - a much more intimate setting than a theater release. So, with Bermuda, we really leaned into the intimacy there and tried to make the movie more immersive, personal, and tempered than welcome or Strictly Business. It runs longer, slower, quieter, and more thoughtfully.
JESUS STALL BY EGG
Andrew - I think Gav has this one dialed, but just to pick up on those ideas:
We definitely want the movie to smack people over the head and get them fired up to ski, and we want to showcase the crew’s skiing as best we can and in the way they want to be seen. The flip side of that coin is that at the end of the day, we devote so much time to skiing and it really does carry a lot of weight in our hearts. We love it and we hate it and we wanted that to come through in the film. Hopefully people can appreciate the screen time that isn’t skiing and connect those moments to their own. Maybe that’s soft of me to think but idgaf, everyone in the crew works too damn hard to not have their personalities shown in an effort to connect with whoever is watching it.
The Most Gutter van got side swiped this spring and was totaled. You recently did a GoFundMe to recoup some cash to get a new whip so you can continue filming in the streets. Some people called the crew out about asking for help and said “WhY dOn’T yOu JuSt AsK yOuR sPoNsOrS???” Clearly, there’s a lack of support in the industry for crews like you going out and getting dirty in the streets, filming, putting your health on the line like that? Is there anything you think can and should be done about it?
Gavin - I talked about this in a thread a few weeks ago. This topic always kind of bleeds into other stuff, so sorry for the rant, I just take it personally. Our van from last year was totaled by a drunk driver in a police chase at 11am on a beautiful sunny spring day in a nice neighborhood in Denver. The driver and passengers ran away from the scene. We had an uninsured motorists policy on our van, but after the mechanic’s valuation of the rig and our insurance payout, we came out a few grand below our original investment buying the van last December.
We are supported immensely by all of our sponsors and could never afford to do what we do without their funding, resources, and relationships. We value our partnerships with these companies that keep us running and look forward to continuing to work with brands that can help make our ideas a reality.
But who wrote this rule that sponsors have to be our only avenue for funding and producing our films? For me, one cardinal aspect of making films and movies with Strictly and individually is the accessibility of the content. I intend to never sell the films that I work on. I grew up motivated by the films from PBP, Level 1, Nimbus, Stept, etc., but my strongest inspirations have always come from free projects - like Outdoor Graduation from Voleurz. There’s just something really honest and equitable about making a movie for free. Nobody shouldn’t be able to be inspired by our skiing, creativity, and friendships just because they can’t afford to buy our film.
“WhY dOn’T yOu JuSt AsK yOuR sPoNsOrS???” is the dumbest fucking argument for this. It’s literally a donation. We’re not forcing anyone to give us their money. We understand that street skiing isn’t a noble cause. If you don’t want to give us your money, don’t give us your money. We’re always trying to better connect with our audiences, and the GoFundMe is an opportunity for our supporters to more directly engage with our continued productions while also knowing exactly how they are supporting our projects. It has also allowed us to interact with our fans and supporters in conversation, plus we’ve been able to give away two pairs of skis and a pair of boots so far, something that was limited only to our physical premieres in previous years. We’re trying to foster stronger mutual support between our audience and Strictly. If you’re offended that we are trying to establish a platform where our viewers can voluntarily contribute to the sustainability of our movies, go watch a MSP movie and think harder about not supporting grassroots independent ski media.
If you want to support our van fund specifically, see our GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/f/strictly-ski-van-replacement
If you want to support the crew as a whole, we have set up a donation page on our website: https://www.strictlycreate.com/donate
There’s no doubt that there is limited support for crews producing skiing content like this. Is there anything I think should be done about it? I don’t know. Speaking personally only, I would love to operate in a world where I could make ski movies without losing my own money on it, without putting my life, goals, jobs, mental health, and relationships on hold for another year to be a part of something that feels meaningful to me. And, additionally, I want to be able to produce original films where I can maintain creative control, inject new ideas into the skiing and filmmaking, and not feel like I’m out here just making advertisements. It’s a delicate balance and I’m still not sure how I fit into it. I don’t expect I can afford to continue to make films in a way like this for much longer. For as good as I am at creating films, I’m frankly trash at finding a way to support myself off of them. I have a lot to thank Andrew for his hustle in fostering Strictly to be a better collaborator with the brands we work alongside, letting us focus on making our movies and allowing me to explore creativity I never would have had the chance to dive into without his help. Eh, kind of opened a can of worms here but I’m not gonna delete it. Making this shit is really demanding, hardly sustainable, and emotionally exhausting, but I’m so damn grateful for the opportunities and privilege I’ve been provided with that has allowed me to work alongside everyone at Strictly.
MOST GUTTER VAN...RIP.
Andrew - That’s some mf respect to Gav. I feel the same. I think that street skiing specifically isn’t really marketable for big brands, like yeah it's dope in their eyes but you’re average family isn't buying gear so they can go hit handrails. I’m sure we all get that, but I think what companies don't understand at times is that what the smaller crews are doing and the scene that we all on NS are a part of is the feeder market for the larger ski industry. If you love skiing enough to waste hours on NS then you are definitely going to keep skiing until your knees blow out. If you’re down to go shovel a lip to a handrail when you're 15 and wearing cotton you’re for sure gonna be buying a nice down jacket to ski in when you're 40. I would say the majority of people on NS are lifers, we decide where we live because of skiing, and decide what we do for work so we can ski as much as possible. When we have kids we are going to show them the movies we watched and encourage them to ski too. If some kid decides that skiing is cool because they watched someone jump off a building, gets into skiing, but never skis urban in their life, either way, that aspect of the movie will have served the ski community well. That should hold be of importance to ski companies, and sometimes it does, plenty of times it doesn’t.
Have you seen yourselves change and evolve as a group? What are the major plans for the crew going into this winter?
Gavin - Strictly has grown to become family and we’re so proud of what we can make together. As we look towards 2021, we will continue to work alongside one another in realizing and sharing our skiing and filmmaking. We’re always striving toward producing unique, original content, so we’re all excited to discover the new opportunities and formats that we will work into our future projects. It snowed in Denver yesterday and Pete just called me about getting up to hitting a spot tomorrow. Guess we’re basically started?
MAJOR MOUNTAIN TOP INSP.
Favorite Trip, Trick, Track:
Pete: Quebizzy, Straight Air, Hotel Room Service by Pit Bull
Parker: The moon, Frontflip, Long Haired Redneck by David Allan Coe
Sam: Quebec, Sw 5 Stinkbug,
Benny: Beartooths, Cork 3 or Cork 7 Blunt Fosho, OD’d in Denver by Hank Williams Jr
Levi: Logan, Straight Air Japan, Skidoo 154 with 3 Inch Lugs
Calvin: Beartooths, Lip 2 Obv, Addicted by Gucci
Taylor: Beartooths, 3 Blunt, Distractions by Wild Painting
Kerr: Quebec, 9 Stale with a Fisheye, Suavamente by Elvis Crespo
Gavin: Beartooths, Sw Tails, JPEGMAFIA
Ethan: Beartooths, Ollie to Clean, Angel from Montgomery by John Prine
Andrew: Beartizzies, Sw to sw, Now that I’m a River by Charles Watson
Any final words for the NS community?
Gavin & Andrew - We always look forward to watching films from the big dogs and it’s wild that Strictly is approaching that caliber of skiing and filmmaking, that we get to participate in the progression of creativity in our sport alongside so many other amazingly influential crews and individuals. But nothing is more encouraging than seeing fresh ideas from the next generation. Watching the Forre boys redefining what’s possible in street skiing and filming, seeing HVX edits from Pdog that capture the essence and nostalgia of a Mt. Hood summer, thumbing through curated content from Theo at Sno-Void, watching Insta videos from up-n-comers like Jed, Ben Fethke & JLee. We wish we could shout out to everyone pushing the envelope right now. The future of skiing is in all of y’all. Go make skiing be whatever it means to you and find a way to share it with the world, no matter how insignificant it might feel. Our community is what gives us strength.
There aren’t rules to this. Don’t let someone tell you how you can and can’t ski, film, edit, make art, any of it. Don’t shovel the stairs if you don’t want to. Sure, go ahead and put the lip on the outside of the railing. It’s fine if you want to go build a jump that gets hit every single year, or if you want to go session the red ledge and put it in a video. You’re not any sicker for going deep in Revelstoke than you are for bootpacking up Little Cottonwood, even if it gets you to better terrain. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got natty speed, a winch, a bungee, or whether you’re using a ski lift, a snowmobile, touring gear, or bootpacking up a landfill. There’s too much exclusive, gatekeeping bullshit in skiing. The people who preach about skiing being a form of self-expression and freedom can be the same people who will talk shit about others doing it differently. And especially every single one of us at Strictly are guilty of this, but we’re learning. Go do what makes you happy. We’re going to do what makes us happy, whether or not you think it’s proper or not. And if you’ve got a problem with that, fuck you, we don’t care if you don’t think it’s core. Our critics are our friends, and we intend to keep those friendships, but don’t ever expect we’ll be happy to listen to people telling us how we do what we love to do. There is no right way to do it, and we stand by that.
There’s too much exclusive, gatekeeping bullshit in skiing.
A special shoutout to the people who helped us make Bermuda a reality:
Hunter Arbaugh for mixing the soundtrack and flossing the audio transitions. Josh Berman for including us in the Denver Freeski Film Festival, for sticking his neck out for us in the past and present. Jonah Gorder and Sam Winship for making the illest series of 33 posters from film and digital photos (@talltdan). All of our families and friends for believing in our vision. Thank you to the ongoing support from Fat Tire, Icelantic, RMU, Line, Full Tilt, J Skis, Jiberish, Obermeyer, Newschoolers, and Flylow. Thanks for keeping us going. Here’s to the next ones!