It might seem like anyone can make a snowboard video these days. Moviemaking’s gone digital for the most part, and easy laptop editing programs are everywhere. However, not just anyone can make a good snowboard video. For that you need talent, vision, and relentless devotion. But such is the power of film that if you do manage the creation of a truly groundbreaking movie, it can very well change the face of snowboarding.
Six years ago, a little film operation called Neoproto was born on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Fueled by a DIY ethic and an explosion of up-and-comer talent, Directors Pierre Minhondo and Justin Eeles put out several videos under the Neoproto name, all of them documenting the am scene in a fresh, raw, yet decidedly professional way. They were rookie videos, yet they were legit enough to stand next to the big-name productions. A wave of underdog film ops were quickly born-suddenly inspired to document their scene and do it on their own terms. As for the “big name productions,” Mack Dawg got a whiff of the talent and hired on Minhondo and Eeles to man a new venture called MDP-People-a combination of the boys’ fresh vision with Mack Dawg’s quality and resources.
“I wouldn’t say there was a niche we were trying to fill,” says Eeles. “We just knew what we liked and didn’t and wanted to do something different. I think one of our goals was to show the riders as real people-not superstars. I always thought that the videos back then made snowboarders look untouchable-like robots doing trick after trick, and you never got the feeling that you knew anything about them. We wanted to show personality along with good snowboarding.”
The beauty of any start-up operation is that when you’ve never done something before, you find your own way of doing it. Eeles and Minhondo had a vision and took it to the screen in the only way they new how. In so doing, they breathed a little new life into the world of snowboarding. “We really didn’t know what the f-k we were doing,” says Minhondo. “Most of us weren’t making any money off snowboarding at all. We did our first video for less than 10,000 dollars. We pretty much all lived in the same house and edited the movie in Corey Smith’s basement in Portland. It was such a ghetto production with so many funny stories, but we were all extremely passionate about snowboarding and making Neoproto work.”
Initially Neoproto had the support of the now defunct Kingpin Productions after Eeles and Minhondo pitched the idea to then Kingpin Director Brad Kremer. Says Minhondo, “It was funny, the first time Justin and I met Brad, I was twenty years old and scared shitless. We all grew up watching his [Kremer’s] films and I was so nervous to ask for his help. I couldn’t believe he said yes.”
The relationship with Kremer would prove to be a long-lasting one. Within the next several seasons, Kingpin dissolved and Kremer started working for Mack Dawg Productions, while Eeles went to work on Holden’s KidsKnow project. Meanwhile Kremer had become a sort of mentor to Minhondo, and eventually approached him in 2005 to see if he and Eeles wanted to do a similar up-and-comer project for Mack Dawg. Both young filmers excitedly agreed, and MDP-People was born.
Over the last decade the world of snowboard movies has intensified beyond belief. Logging a successful movie segment is crucial to being a big-name pro rider, but the major production companies only have room for the absolute cream of the crop on their crews, and competition is ultra fierce. The necessity of giving voice to a new guard is undeniable, though. “I think it’s important to have good films that give an outlet to new riders so that they can breathe new life into snowboarding.” Says Minhondo. “New riders give snowboarding new tricks, new style, and new personalities.”