Gangland. photo: Ethan Stone

Words: Ethan Stone

The sun is setting in the trees behind the back porch at the Hood Crew house in Rhododendron, Oregon, where we’re waiting for Danny to show us a near-final version of the crew’s 2012-13 season movie “Freed the Streets.”

As we wait for Danny, some of the crew start telling a story from the winter about one of their edits that had to be taken offline due to some scandalous party footage, and subsequent threats of legal action by one of the parties involved.

Hood Crew artwork by Nick Broms

Late afternoons in the Hood backcountry.

“There aren’t any tits in the movie, are there?” asks Forster Meeks.

“There’s definitely ass,” replies Anders Fornelius.

Danny sets up his laptop on a chair and we settle in to watch the film, which clocks in at around 27 minutes. It’s the Hood Crew’s longest and most ambitious effort to date and a significant step forward from their last projects, last year's "freed?" and the previous year's "Too Hawt for Summa Camp."

Young Freed?

Tappin' shrooms. Photo: Kjell Ellefson

Who is the Hood Crew? That’s not an easy question to answer. The crew has morphed significantly over more than a decade of existence; even Danny Schwartz, the crew’s current instigator-in-chief, can’t tell me much about the history of the crew, besides that he was first given the password for the Hood Crew Newschoolers account in 2002.

Since then the crew has grown to include many of the Northwest’s best up-and-coming skiers, as well as some Midwest transplants. One aspect I’ve always liked about Hood Crew is their openness, which always brings new talent into their edits. At the end of the day, Hood Crew is whoever is still there hiking for the shot.

The mega-disaster.

Stevens Pass.

Freed the Streets features the following skiers: Alec Nelson, Forster Meeks, Hudson Knoll, Tanner Boudreau, Josh Karcher, Kevin Lund, Kevin Curran, The Kid, Mike Briggs, Anders Fornelius, Joey Vandermeer, Brian Tonetti, Pat Moore, Young Wabs, C-Bo, Spencer Harkins, and more.

We watch the movie and there is, indeed, some ass. There are also bums blowing horns, stuffed giraffes, grow rooms, crack pipes, gratuitous partying, police cars, lots of crashes, and a large variety of death-defying urban stunts along the way.

The roof rail at Boulder's Dairy Center.

Forster dropped from the top of this rail to flat pavement, and all he had to say was "we're chillin"

In the crew’s style, it’s raw, mostly fisheye footage – no one here is too worried about production quality. But that’s part of what makes the Hood Crew such an unlikely success. We respect those who don’t give a fuck.

I used to think that all that the Hood Crew represented was a seemingly endless series of poorly made edits on Newschoolers, until I realized that they were actually, whether they knew it or not, slowly dialing in a unique style that speaks to a unique audience.

Do they have any sponsors for the film? Aside from a shoutout to Stash Poles, the answer comes back, Hell no!

“This isn’t even something you’d want your sponsors to see, necessarily,” says Michael Briggs. “But that gives us the freedom to do what we want.”

Any crew that gives out free doobies on the hill gets a thumbs-up from me.

A4 glam shot.

In this case, doing what they wanted means slaying handrails and urban spots across the West throughout the winter, with enough backcountry jumps and some BC lines from Camper Kev to show that these guys ski more than just the streets.

Unlike most Hood Crew edits, the movie is filmed almost entirely outside of the park, excluding a few shots from West Coast Session and the Sammy Carlson Invitational.

Another day, another run-in with the cops.

Briggles sends a huge crevasse gap.

Even though the features they step to are gnarly, the crew’s footage always comes across as accessible for everyman by including all the crashes as well little snippets of life around the edges (like the parties, or a crack pipe on the ground at one of the urban spots) that turn the movie into a lexicon of the young urban skier’s experience.

“So many production companies try to make shit seem unrealistic and crazy,” says Anders. “What we do is down to earth.”

Without further ado, here’s Freed the Streets. Hood Crew to the world!

Hood Crew artwork by Nick Broms