By Jennifer Sherowski
The face of snowboard filmmaking grows, evolves, and gathers steam with each passing season. New blood comes in, teams reshuffle, companies start up and shut down, and more and more snowboarders pop DVDs into their players to get hyped to ride. However, if something has stayed its course amidst all this change, it’s Mike Hatchett and Standard Films. In fact, the steadiness and longevity of the man and the production company has helped shape the way snowboarders see snowboarding, and certainly the way snowboard movies are made.
Since way back in 1989, Hatchett, along with his brother Dave, has been bringing his vision of snowboarding to life on film-it’s a world where the powder is fresh, the tricks get thrown down off cliffs and natural jumps, and the backdrop is an expanse of huge craggy mountains. Standard Films’ ten-video Totally Board series and the subsequent five movies are a genuine institution specializing in its own brand of progressive freestyle riding-“backcountry freestyle.”
Says Hatchett, “There were a couple of cool snowboard films that had been made, but we wanted to do a film that really concentrated on just snowboarding-no extra fluff, just the best riders on the best terrain we could find.” So while other production companies lurked in the park and various in-bounds locations, the Hatchetts pioneered the Alaskan backcountry, capturing first descents, epic lines, and big moves on big mountains. And although a lot has changed over the years, the same raw purity can still be seen in Standard Films productions today.
Another one of Hatchett’s talents over the years has been showing the backcountry ropes to a host of young freestyle upstarts and, in so doing, creating an army of lethal all-terrain killers. Take legendary scanner Johan Olofsson, who grew up in Finland riding 300 vertical feet. After a few years filming with the Hatchetts, he culminated a segment in TB5 with a ballistic 35-second straight shot down a 3,000-foot, 50-degree slope in the Alaskan outback-a feat people still talk about to this day. More recently, Hatchett has been honing the likes of John Jackson, as well as documenting all-terrain attackers like Mark Landvik and Freddie Kalbermatten-whom he calls the “modern versions” of Olofsson, Noah Salasnek, and Jim Rippey.
Call it a niche, a specialty, a unique way of seeing things-but never doubt that the steeps, deeps, technical lines, and fundamental power of backcountry snowboarding has a definite place in the heart and mind of snowboarding. To Hatchett, the formula is really very simple: “When I’m editing at the end of a season, I’m thinking most kids want to see cutting-edge snowboarding most of all. People say, ‘Why don’t the videos have this or that-more of a story line or whatever?’ That’s good input, but still, you have to be careful-it’s a snowboard video.”