Image credits: Björn Eklund, Alex Hackel, Alric Ljunghager, and Magnus Graner

This season, The Bunch adds to their consistent film lineup with “Many Fantasies Later.” The film features a stacked roster of skiers, including Magnus Graner, Alex Hackel, Hugo Burvall, Øystein Bråten, Evelina Nilsson, Emil Granbom, and Jake Mageau. Graner and Hackel took charge on the production side, with Björn Eklund leading the cinematography and final cut. In a marked shift for the Bunch, “Many Fantasises Later” focuses primarily on backcountry and big mountain riding on slopes in Sweden and the Swiss Alps.

The film's title, dialed in by Bunch frontmen Graner and Hackel, came to Graner during a solo backpacking trip in Sweden two summers ago. “I was just out hiking by myself in the woods camping like for a few days,” he says, “for some reason, I had a lot of inspiration during that time.”

When Graner returned to cell service, he sent Hackel a list of potential film names, including “Many Fantasies Later.” “When I read ‘Many Fantasies Later,’ I felt like that kind of summed up the temperature of the room,” says Hackel, whose repertoire includes award-winning Realski parts and countless movie credits. He felt that the title spoke to the warm yet surreal sensation of meeting your goals as a professional skier, “imagine you were 12 and somebody hits you in the back of the head with a pan, and then you woke up… it was just many like many fantasies that happened, and then all of a sudden you're just here.”

The process of title-creation proceeded filming “Many Fantasies Later.” Once the pair agreed, they hatched a plan: head to the Alps, grab a handycam and make some ski fantasies happen during the 2021/2022 winter.

Before the season kicked off, they lined up a series of sponsors and picked up some not-unwanted but unplanned funding. With this extra pocket money, they opted to hire a filmer. That filmer’s name was Björn Eklund.

Over the years, Eklund has quietly sculpted his cinematography practice, working with skiers like Kim Boberg and Hugo Burvall. The call from Hackel and Graner was a pleasant surprise for Eklund, “I admire their work and the idea of pushing skiing in different directions of The Bunch since their early days… when I got the call from Alex and Magnus to be behind the lens and do the post-production of their 11th film I couldn't resist.”

Continuing with the cinematographic tradition established by “Is There Time for Matching Socks,” “Many Fantasies Later” approaches the ski film archetype from a slightly different angle.

The film opens with a series of vistas scrolling across the screen. Each frame links with the next, creating the illusion that you’re peering across an ever-changing yet singular horizon. Then comes the madness.

“Many Fantasies Later” hinges on a b-roll shot of Hackel and Hugo Burvall discussing Graner’s increasingly frantic endeavors to get the shot. Burvall and Hackel go back and forth, eventually deciding that Graner’s come down with “mad cow disease.” The film pings back to this b-roll shot throughout, splicing it into each segment alongside clips of Graner’s apparent descent into bovine madness. He charges a flag as a ramped-up Spanish bull, and yes, you guessed it, moos like a cow.

The decision to center “Many Fantasies Later” around one b-roll clip came months into the production process. Before filming started, Hackel and Graner, who produced the film, set to break it up into conceptual sections (which did not initially include Graner acting like a cow). These concepts evolved during the production process and eventually came to revolve around Burvall and Hackel’s b-roll conversation.

However, Hackel wasn’t initially sold on the idea, “are we really making a movie about fucking crazy cow disease? Hell no. Like, like let's stop losing our mind guys. Let's get back to like doing our regularly scheduled program,” he recalls saying. On the other hand, Eklund loved the idea and teamed up with Graner to override Hackel’s vote.

Ultimately, when the finished product was complete, Hackel came around. “It works perfectly,” he says, “the crazy cow is the symbol of us losing it in our path to try and create something special.”

That the Bunch made a ski movie that’s ostensibly about losing your mind and acting like a cow isn’t entirely surprising. As a crew, they’ve made a point to embrace uniqueness, whether that’s their pioneering ski style or their commitment to interesting segment choices (the dance segment from ITTFMS comes to mind here).

In stepping outside the norm, though, you risk creating something off-putting, downright weird, or unenjoyable to watch. After all, most of us view ski movies for the skiing, not artistic merit.

Yet, as they did with their previous film, the Bunch pulls it off with “Many Fantasies Later.” The film’s structured loosely in a pleasingly hallucinatory manner, and the “mad cow” storyline speaks effectively to something most of us skiers have faced -- the insane drive to get the clip. These proceedings are bolstered by Eklund’s skilled editing and filmmaking, who, while he never appears in the frame, steals the show.

None of this is to say that the skiing in “Many Fantasies Later” is secondary. While I’ll keep it general to maintain the surprise, the Bunch establish themselves here as backcountry riders to watch. Highlights include a big mountain line from Burvall that is the dictionary definition of “loose but lit,” some crazy butter combos performed by Graner, and a brief yet insane appearance from Øystein Bråten.

And don’t just take my word for it. “Many Fantasies Later” is a critically acclaimed film, receiving “Best Editing” and “Jury’s Pick” from iF3 and “Best Ski Movie” from the High Five Festival.

Receiving these awards was a special moment for the team. Hackel and Graner found pride in pulling off a ski movie without the support of Bunch filmmaking luminaries like Pär Hägglund or Jens Nilsson. Eklund was surprised and overjoyed to receive distinction for his first long-form project. “Growing up seeing all of the nominated ski movies from iF3 the past 12 years and rooting for certain skiers and companies to get rewards, and then suddenly get three awards for ‘Many Fantasies Later’ felt unreal,” he says.

The ski movie space is enormous these days, featuring everything from the industry stalwarts to the core crowd shooting street clips with dad cams. Given this firehose of content, creating a film that diverges from the norm while prioritizing quality skiing and filming isn’t easy. Sure, it’s not hard to make something weirder than the last MSP flick -- give me a Flip camera, a pair of tele-skis, and a soundtrack by Skrillex -- I’m sure I could put together an edit that would freak out the average Newschooler if they could make it past the first 30 seconds.

But producing a film that’s genuinely different and worth watching is no small feat. With “Many Fantasies Later,” Eklund, Graner, and Hackel have met this high, high bar. If you haven’t caught the film live yet, it drops online for 24 hours on Wednesday, December 7th, right here on Newschoolers. Give it a watch -- you won’t be disappointed. The full Youtube release is set for Thursday, December 8th.