Itching to get up to the mountain? Dreaming of first tracks? Yeah, so are we. In between praying for powder and inventing a snow dance, check out these two ski and snowboard film premiers.
Spread the Shred Video Premiers will take over the Garland Theatre for its second year on November 6th. Five bucks will get you a double feature of snowboard films—Think Thank’s Right Brain Left Brain, and an all-female production by Peepshow called Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow—plus the chance to win a bunch of locally donated swag.
Warren Miller Entertainment returns to Spokane on November 10-11, with Wintervention, a ski and snowboard world tour in which the company ventures to Antarctica for its first time ever. The film will be showing at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. It will also be in Coeur d’Alene on November 21, at the Schuler Auditorium on the North Idaho College campus. (It already premiered in Sandpoint, in October, and will be in Pullman on December 9-10.)
LET’S MAKE BETTER MISTAKES TOMORROW
After wrecking her snowboard while attempting to ride a rail, the snowboarder being filmed pulls off her helmet to expose blood streaked from nose to chin. If there were dialogue, it might go something like this:
Snowboarder, snarling at the camera: “What are you looking at, punk?”
Cameraman: “Uh, nothing. I was just—um—nothing at all.” (Skulks away.)
Snowboarder: “That’s what I thought.”
In other segments, you hear “Oh, my god!” from behind the camera as skulls meet metal or rag-doll bodies careen head first down icy stairs. Then one of two things happens: Either a) the girl undergoing bodily trauma curses with astounding creativity, or b) the girl undergoing bodily trauma erupts into a fit of giggles. Either response is good. We all heave a sigh of relief.
Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow, a film by the Los Angeles-based film company Peepshow Productions, captures ample footage to prove that women have the guts and the skills for insane snowboard shenanigans.
“The female snowboard scene is a smaller scene,” says Zachary Lingo, who organizes Spread the Shred along with his snowboarding buddy Martin Beran. “It’s a male-dominated sport.” That is reflected in the snowboarding video industry, where women play only a small part in mainstream films and female-only films comprise a tiny fraction of overall production. “Peepshow is one of the most legit [female film companies] out there. In this film, the women are on a different level,” Lingo says.
Independent snowboard films like Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow embody the scrappy, raw attitude that might inspire one to engage in activities leading to frequent nosebleeds. Forget high-budget trips to remote corners of the earth; Peepshow’s riders use what is around creatively. “We all grew up in cities, not in the mountains,” says Peepshow writer/producer Esthera Preda. “We were more interested in the urban riding.” Railings, steps, skate parks, rooftops—it’s all fair game.
“Instead of building something like [a terrain park], it’s going out and finding locations like that,” says Beran. Even in the heat of summer, he and Lingo see the world through snow-colored glasses, filing interesting locations under “Future Boarding Territory” in the brain.
“[Traditionally, snowboarders] have all their experiences up on the mountain. This puts snowboarding in a totally different light,” says Lingo. “It’s not about jumping off a 100-foot cliff, even though there’s stuff like that in there too.”
Most of the ladies’ totally insane antics are executed in an environment strikingly similar to downtown Spokane. That means viewers will try this stuff at home—and that’s precisely the goal, says Lingo. “I think snowboarding’s the s*** and I’d like everybody to be able to do it,” he says. Bringing snowboarding to the city means everyone can do it, even if they don’t have the means to get up to a mountain.
When asked if anyone was injured during the making of the movie, Preda just laughs.
“Yeah, of course,” she says. “The girls are all pretty tough—I won’t lie—but it’s pretty scary to film with the girls.” She speculates that they’re not made as tough as guys. That doesn’t seem to prevent them from going for it just as hard. Everyone ended up with an injury at some point during filming, which happens when you routinely go screaming down icy handrails on a snowboard.
One of the riders, Jess Kimura, who is a construction worker in real life, is also featured in Think Thank’s Right Brain Left Brain. She was recently on the cover of Snowboard Canada Magazine and interviewed by ESPN. (Like, no big deal.)
“Jess is known for being super tough,” says Preda. “She will ride with injuries and land on old injuries.” Another rider in the film dislocated her shoulder. Twice.
For Preda and co-writer/producer June Bhongjan, making snowboard films comes as an afterthought to the actual snowboarding. “We wanted to do it just for fun and we had no idea how to [operate] a business. We just were regular snowboarders and I guess we still are—we just had to learn.”
They produced a super low-budget online film last year. Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow is the first official Peepshow production. “June and I like to call it our first real movie,” says Preda.
RIGHT BRAIN LEFT BRAIN
Okay, so wrap your mind around this: Right Brain Left Brain is a snowboard movie, but it is really a study on the brain’s avenues to creativity. Yeah.
It’s a double feature: the one disc (or lobe, if you will) covers what producer Jesse Burtner deems right brain-inspired footage, and the other covers the left brain’s domain. Whether any of that makes sense or not, snowboarders love this stuff.
“They’re the industry leaders in the creativity they’re putting down,” Beran says of the Think Thank crew. “[Sometimes] you have to rewind it like five different times to comprehend what they just did.”
What really makes Think Thank stand out, says Lingo, is that the boarders demonstrate new ideas for having fun with the sport. “It’s about utilizing the mountain and your board in a million different ways to bring enjoyment to snowboarding.”
SPREAD THE SHRED
Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow and Right Brain Left Brain will premiere in Spokane at Spread the Shred Snowboard Video Premiers, a once-a-year event organized by Martin Beran and Zachary Lingo.
Here’s how it all began: “[My roommate and I] would always be on our porch drinking beers,” says Lingo, “and Martin and his brother would be across the street doing the same thing.”
Beran finally trekked across the lawn to meet his neighbors one evening. “Probably in the first five to ten minutes, the word ‘snowboarding’ was mentioned,” says Lingo, “and that was it.”
Now the pair spends most of their free time together, either snowboarding, talking about snowboarding, high-fiving or completing each other’s sentences. “Our friends get kind of annoyed with us. In the winter it’s, like, 98 percent snowboarding, and in the summer it’s, like, 95 percent snowboarding,” says Lingo. “Me and Martin are on the brain train pretty much 24/7.”
Ask them and they will rattle off a bunch of still-incubating ideas— film festival, an online rider network, weekly movie screenings, and the list goes on. “We’re both super passionate about it,” says Lingo.
“–and we’re gonna make this snowboard scene awesome,” quips Beran.
“We’ve got big plans,” adds Lingo.
“Big plans,” echoes Beran.
There was no game plan, just a vision: Spread the Shred would pull together the local snowboarding scene. Garland Theatre Manager Deana Carr, a snowboarding buddy who had experienced the pair’s intense focus on the sport, had approached them with an idea: why not pack the theater with a bunch of crazy snowboarders, show them some flicks, and throw free stuff at them?
Spread the Shred 2009 attracted a crowd of 200 with only a month to prepare. “And that was maybe with a week, week and a half of advertising,” says Lingo. They bugged all the local shops for gear, posted flyers and talked the event up to everyone they saw.
“We just started harassing people,” says Beran. “The area that we live in is incredible for the activity of snowboarding. We wanted everybody to be a part of it.” That meant including area ski resorts—they approached all five nearby resorts and four donated lift tickets, season tickets or other goodies—and involving local gear shops.
The films even draw from regional talent. Last year’s event featured two Washington-based film companies, Think Thank and Transworld Snowboarding. This year, they ventured outside of the state to include the women’s side of the sport.
Beran and Lingo started planning earlier and aimed higher this time around. On the heels of last year’s success, more businesses were willing to donate gear. Proceeds from Spread the Shred 2010 will send five kids to the mountain through SOS Outreach, a non-profit with a branch at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park. SOS Outreach’s youth outreach teaches life skills through snow sports. “They bring in kids that might never be able to experience snowboarding on their own and give them the opportunity,” says Beran. The kids will get lift tickets and lessons for five days, equipment and warm outerwear.
Kids are also a focus of the main event. “Part of what we’re doing this year is we’re trying to get our sponsors to donate kids’ snowboards,” says Beran. “We had a lot of kids and families come [last year.]”
Prizes will include season passes to local resorts, lift tickets, snowboards and a Selkirk Wilderness cat skiing trip with a $900 value—as well as snowboard accessories, t-shirts and whatever the heck donors throw into the pot. Donations are still rolling in for this year, says Lingo, but “when go-time happens, it’s an overwhelming amount of products.”
Beran and Lingo say they are able to gather a bunch of giveaway items by asking many companies for small donations instead of weighing heavily on any one donor. “We are trying to specifically promote what we have [locally],” says Beran. “We want to have the vibe there that’s going to make everybody excited for their season, about where they live, and that’s going to make them buy at their local shops.”
SPREAD THE SHRED SNOWBOARD VIDEO PREMIERS: Saturday, November 6, doors open at 7:15pm at the Garland Theater. TICKETS: $5 at the door. More info: www.spreadtheshred.com
Warren Miller Entertainment will release a ski and snowboard film this winter, just like they’ve done annually since 1950. Not exactly breaking news.
If you happen to have lived under a rock for the past sixty years, here’s a brief background on the legend. Warren Miller films began as homemade productions by skier Warren Miller and his buddies. They have since grown into a gargantuan industry that ritually premieres a film across the country each fall. No hype is spared at these events, and fans fork out more than they’d normally pay for a movie in exchange for getting super psyched for the upcoming ski and snowboard season and scoring some loot, such as lift tickets, t-shirts, and gear.
But there is something very special about their 61st production: The Warren Miller team has pulled out all the stops to bring you the penultimate combination of snow and silliness. The “plot” for Wintervention is how people cope with a compulsive need to ski or snowboard. The initial clip shows a guy on the phone in his cubicle. He gingerly places the phone back on the receiver when his boss approaches. “Can you explain why our office supply company sent you helicopter skiing?” demands the boss. Then the skier’s brain explodes into animated snowflakes and we are whisked away to a pure white mountaintop. It’s a practically unbearable amount of corny. Nonetheless (or perhaps as a result), these films are still as popular as ever among snow sports enthusiasts.
The 76-year-old Warren Miller no longer holds any stake in the Warren Miller Entertainment. Until he sold the company in 1988, Miller directed, produced and narrated each film. His trademark voice and creative influence remained key to the films until 1996.
And when we say trademark, we mean it. Warren Miller Entertainment claims it owns the term “Warren Miller.” The company sued the actual Warren Miller—and won—for his narration in a 1999 movie not produced by Warren Miller Entertainment.
These days, the film’s formula includes skits, beautiful landscapes and footage of cringe-worthy feats by some of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders. In Wintervention, add “gratuitous panoramas of penguin colonies” to the list—the company visited Antarctica for the first time this year. And ski icon Jonny Moseley narrates.
In the films, you hear from the athletes about the experience of being in the middle of nowhere, trudging up one side of a mountain for the fleeting ecstasy of flying through powder on the other side. Professional athletes and notable newbies get a chance to show off their skills in fresh snow: Lindsey Vonn, Chris Davenport and JJ Thomas top the list.
Andy Mahre from Naches, Washington, got a lift to the Columbia Mountains in British Columbia this year to be filmed for Wintervention. (Check out this month’s “What’s Your Gear” column to learn more about him!)
Although Mahre comes from a family of competitive ski racers, he has taken his own course—focusing on style rather than speed. You might know him as the guy who skis backwards. The risky switch has paid off big for Mahre. Now he’s one of the best-known innovators in the sport, with his name on a long list of film credits.
“When I was switching from racing and getting into free skiing and stuff, [my friends and I] always filmed what we were doing,” he says. Through his sponsors’ connections, he got hooked up with Matchstick productions, Poor Boy Productions, Nimbus Productions and eventually, Warren Miller Entertainment.
Wintervention is Mahre’s second Warren Miller Entertainment film—Children of Winter two years ago also featured him. Mahre officially qualifies as kind of a big deal, so he’s not as super stoked about being in a movie as the rest of us might be.
“Being in movies to me isn’t really all that important compared to the personal experience,” he says. “To be out skiing with a group of new or old friends is a lot of fun.”
The major perks? A free ride to awesome ski locations, access to a helicopter, and a chance to ski with athletes he admires. “I skied with Johnny Mosley, who I watched in the Olympics and in a lot of other competitions when I was growing up,” says Mahre.
Yet, his dad, Olympic medalist Steve Mahre, remains his number one hero. “Doing some of that with my dad would be fun.”
WARREN MILLER ENTERTAINMENT’S WINTERVENTION: Wednesday-Thursday, November 10-11 at 7:30pm at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. TICKETS: $20.50 – available from The Fox, TicketsWest, or Spokane Alpine Haus. For more information on shows in Coeur d’Alene and Pullman, visit: