pierre3

How did you get your start and when did you first think, ‘I should do this for a job’?
I started filming my friends in the late 80’s. My dad had a camera / tv store and he used to film our school plays / graduations and since I had access to a camera we just started filming ourselves. I wore out about five S-VHS vcrs pressing the rec and pause button. And they were over $1,000 a piece.. thanks dad.

Then when I was about 20 I had invested in a Sony VX-1000 and got a little more serious about filming. But I was only filming skating, mostly for fun and the Swedish tv show “Edge TV” (kind of like Fuel TV) definitely bought a good amount of footage to keep me afloat.  I got familiar with 16mm through doing music videos. I made about a dozen around 1996-1999.

I got familiar with 16mm through doing music videos. I made about a dozen around 1996-1999.

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It wasn’t until I was making Afterlame in 2004 that I was starting to think about this being a job. It was a hobby that turned into a job. And I had issues dealing with that. Like I’d consume myself with the movie / movies to the point of having minor melt downs. It’s was hard for me to separate job and free time. It’s always been the same and that resulted in hating my hobby.

Nowadays I take time off filming and editing to be able to appreciate and work with what I know I love doing. This might not make sense to some… but I’m sure other filmmakers can relate. But, I still snowboard and film stuff, but just for fun. In 2008 I rode more than ever. Went on a few trips to the Alps with my old photographer friend Vincent Skoglund. We know a lot of good places there since we’ve been documenting the pros ripping powder there for a lot of years. It’s quite the feeling to ride that terrain by yourself and not posting up shooting others rip it.

How long have you been at it now?
Since I was 20. That’s when I started going on trips for Mack Dawg. I started out filming stuff in Europe for them around 97-ish.

And I´d like to, yet again, thank Ingemar Backman for hooking me up with Mike McEntire. Ingemar had filmed a really good segment with Mack Dawg for Melt Down Project and then while filming for Stomping Ground in Riksgränsen, Sweden, he shot 25-ish feet out of a hand dug quarter pipe with a flat ass landing. This was insane for being 1996 in case you think a 25 foot air is mellow.

Mack Dawg’s filmer Todd Hazeltine ran out of film in Ingemar’s in-run and missed the shot. Ingemar told Todd that his buddy Pierre had an angle and I have my tape to Todd and he gave me $100. McEntire later called me and said thanks for the tape and I apologized for losing the lip in the frame. But he said he liked the shot anyway, I had the inrun and was right in the outrun zone so that made up for losing the lip I guess. I didn’t ask for any more money than the $100 bucks I got from Todd. But Mike hired me to shoot stuff in Europe for the next couple of years, so I was psyched.

And I’d like to, yet again, thank Ingemar Backman…

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Then I worked with Justin Hostynek and Patrick “Brusti” Armbruster for two seasons. I mostly filmed for their movie Tribal, but on Transcendence I helped edit a little as well. While in Hemsedal filming JP Solberg for Transcendence I was approached by Jussi, Travis, Bobby and Jess to possibly start a film company. They were filming for Standard and wanted to do something on their own. I said I’d think about it and the next year we made Robot Food’s first movie Afterbang (pretty sure we got that name from Justin Hebbel, who came up with it).
Robot Food lasted three movies.

And for the past five years I´ve been working with DC on different projects. Two of those being Mtn Lab and Mtn Lab 1.5. For this season I’ve filmed a few months for a handful of DC Shredisodes which will get to a computer near you before X-mas.

What’s changed most since you first started filming? What’s better about filming now?

The equipment has changed. When I got my $5,000 VX-1000 in 1997 I was broke. Unfortunately for me that camera never really helped me get into the (skate/snowboard) film industry. I would film a lot of skating and stuff, but the distribution was just VHS tapes I gave to my buddies. No Youtube, no 411…

I totally tried to send footage to American companies, but since they all used NTSC cameras and mine was PAL I could never sell footage / establish myself as a skate filmer. If there wouldn’t have been the NTSC / PAL issue or if I would have had another $5,000 to spend on a NTSC camera I would have probably never started making snowboard videos.

But  snowboard videos used 16mm film, which is universal. So I ended up shooting snowboarding.

Editing has become 100 times more accessible than in the 90′s. To edit back then you needed a $100,000 set up which is a lot more than the $3,000 Macbook set up of 2009. So the equipment has changed for the better in the sense of making it affordable  / possible for almost anyone to shoot and make videos.

Sharing your videos online is also a huge plus these days. For me to show what I was working on I´d have to make VHS copies and mail to people who might want to see them. And that wasn’t easy… DV to BETA SP to VHS and then to the post office..

There are great snowboard clips online, sometimes way more fun to watch than the standard 35 min snowboard video.

Kind of nicer these days to shoot onto digital files, export from Final Cut Pro and then share it online.

There are great snowboard clips online, sometimes way more fun to watch than the standard 35 min snowboard video. I like that you can make a clip, post it in 1 hour and then have 10,000 views the next day.

That’s huge. Now I just need to come up with a good formula to present current good content in a good way… and I have some ideas..

What’s worse?

Not much, except that what I’ve been doing for the past 12 or so years has come to an end.
I mean, I’ve made 5-6 movies that were sold by skate/snowboard shops around the world. These dvds made a completely different impact on the viewer than today’s saturated and often hard to find web clips.

So I’d say that the experience of watching your favorite riders on your own TV with good image quality while owning something tangible was better than watching the skate and snowboard clips I see online today.

What do you do to keep yourself stoked?
Take photos. I love walking around and taking photos, it’s been a hobby of mine for as long as I’ve shot video / film.
I absolutely love it. Reading about architecture and design keeps me inspired. Hang out with friends.

Which other filmers do you really like? Who are your biggest influences?
In snowboarding I like what Brad Kremer and Jaakko Itäaho have done with the MDP videos. Everyone out there who’s doing this for a living are all pretty good. But some of the best camera work I’ve seen in the snowboard world was shot by Ralph Baetschmann who shot all the Marco Lutz movies.

Outside of snowboarding I’ve always liked the obvious filmmakers… Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Mark Romanek…The best filming I’ve seen in any movie is Jeff Cronenweth’s work in One Hour Photo. I remember feeling empty after seeing that movie. Like it was perfect.

I’m also a huge fan of older skate videos.

What were you feelings when Robot Food came to an end? How did that all go down? Why’d you guys stop making movies?
I was personally exhausted after Afterlame. I was spending too much time in the USA when I wanted to be somewhere else..
I didn’t have any drive to make a fourth one. I wasn’t making any money and sales weren’t going to get better…  so I moved on and DC were there to offer me a job where I made way more money in one year that I did from all three Robot Food movies. Not that money is that important, but after trying really hard to make a good product for so many years and then realizing that there were team managers who made quadruple of what you were making you kind of lose the drive, or at least I did.

What do you think snowboard movies are missing these days?

What they always were missing, originality and unpredictability. A lot of them have great riding and sometimes a good soundtrack. But we’re stuck in a rut. A rut the Plan B videos paved the way for. Exceptions aside I generally find snowboard videos pretty boring to watch. Even if there are cool tricks and great angles… I just don’t get that stoked on them.

Do you think the current model will last? Is it a sustainable model in this Internet age?
No it won’t last. Kids might be force fed web clips for a few years. But I think it’s just a matter of time before filmmakers find a way to produce quality videos that will stand the tests of time. Which the web clips of 2009 don’t (with very few exceptions).

Advice for kids making movies these days?
Shoot your buddies with any camera you got. Make little movie and share them with your homies. Maybe make a blog… Then if you can afford a real camera and a Macbook with Final Cut Pro, that would be the next step in your filming career. Once you’ve made a few movies you’ll realize what your strengths and weaknesses are and keep working on those. Before you know it you’ll be getting paid to film.  Guaranteed.

See more of Pierre’s work:

My two Vimeo users:
http://vimeo.com/user534109 http://vimeo.com/user1608115

Youtube page:
http://www.youtube.com/user/pierrewikberg

My blog:
http://pierrewikberg.blogspot.com

My Flickr page:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierrewikberg/sets/72157608154958528