These Are The Days
The Making Of Transworld SNOWboarding's First Feature Film
from the Nov 2008 Issue
By Liam Gallagher
Anything could happen. We've reached the tipping point. It's that critical time of the night when things could either blow up and really careen out of control or somehow heroically hang by a thread until everyone runs out of steam. Jonas Michilot and Nick Dirks are jousting with fire.
Louif Paradis, Jonas Carlson, and Robbie Walker are cheering from the sidelines, with bottles and cans raised in the air.
"Stick him," someone yells. "Go for the jugular."
Lucas Debari and filmer Corey Koniniec are standing a few feet away also playing with fire, they're juicing the barbecue with lighter fluid and the flames are threatening their eyebrows. Tim Eddy and Chad Otterstrom are throwing pallets on the campfire. Someone proposes pole-vaulting. Robbie Walker finds the longest tree limb, runs, plants his pine-tree pole, clears the fire, but comes crashing down on Chad's head. Splits it open and blood flows everywhere.
It's early May and the parking lot of the Summit-at-Snoqualmie is our stomping ground. We've circled our wagons (read: RVs) and set up camp for the weekend with the intention of embarking on a bit of a tear. For all intents and purposes, this a going-away party. The entire These Days crew is gathered and celebrating the season. And if the caliber of partying is any indication, it was a good winter. By now you've probably seen the movie and made your own judgments. But back in that dusty parking lot at the base of Snoqualmie in early May, the movie was still nothing more than time-coded clips on a hard drive. The first or last part had yet to be decided. No one knew how it'd all be edited down. That weekend there were only stories of how the winter played out. And with plenty of pallets, brews, and brats to burn through, there was a lot of time to shoot the shit and share stories of the season that was. These are those days.
In The Beginning
It was early December, the crew was finally finalized, and TWS Producer Joe Carlino, and filmers Corey Koniniec and Gary Milton were in the trenches with their respective sub-crews. There was a crew in Colorado, one in British Columbia, and another in Quebec. It's always a tall order to get shots before Christmas. Maybe it's the shallow snowpack, or the fact that the riders are still trying to get their legs under 'em—or as was the case for this crew—it's just trying to figure out how to work with each other.
Corey was up in Terrace with Lucas, Tim, and Dustin Craven. And after two flats on their trailer, a night spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot, a wrecked snowmobile, five days of inch-an-hour snow, howling winds and subzero temps, the first trip was looking like a bit of a bust. "Pretty much everything that could go wrong did," says Tim.
Gary wasn't doing much better. He was in Colorado with Chad, Robbie, and Jonas. They were prowling Red Mountain and had found a pretty good zone to do some building, so good in fact that they were able to put up five different jumps in one day and then went to sleep hoping for bluebird. They got it and got to it. But didn't get much. All five jumps were just a little off. So they too got shut down. And as it turns out, Colorado would be where a few of the dudes were knocked the f—k out later in the season. This is the same zone where Robbie over-rotated a back seven, put his knee into his head, and sustained a concussion involving blood gushing from his eyes. This is also where Lucas missed a turn and tumbled down a 70-foot cliff only to catch the bottom rock band square in his back. Luckily the shovel in his backpack broke the fall and more than likely saved his spine.
Seasons will be slow to start, especially when no one has worked together before and most are new to the full-time filming game. It was a rocky start for some, but not all. While all these guys were getting shut down in the mountains, Joe and the rail kids—Louif, Nick, and Jonas Michilot—were getting it good in eastern Canada.
Get It Going
Joe hadn't even met Louif when he first headed out to Quebec in early December. They spent their first day cruising the city checking it all out. The next day they got to work on a twenty-stair rail. "It was pretty mellow, but I figured it was the first rail any of them had hit that season, so they'd just do some warm-up tricks," says Joe. "Then Louif does a 180 on, then a front board, and then he starts spinning backside 270, and eventually gets a back 270 to fakie." So on the first day of filming for the season, Louif gets one of the best tricks in his part—pretty much an ender—and confirms Carlino's suspicions that this kid and, for that matter, all the rest of them can rip.
And their parts stand as proof that, although many of them could be considered ams, they've got the skills to give a lot of pros a run for their money.
"It was the first day of filming and I was just like, 'Holy shit!' And from that point on I never knew what to expect," says Joe. "And these guys just kept impressing me all season. It was a gamble with some riders, but everybody brought their own flavor to the movie. They all put in 110 percent. And that's all I could ask. And I think it went really well—better than I hoped. It was awesome." Joe also took a gamble with the formula for the movie unfolding the movie in real time Webisodes on the Transworld Web site. Every Internet shredder got to see what these dudes were up to through the winter. In turn, the whole project is more revealing. For Joe, it's important to show everything these guys pour into the pursuit.
"I'm tired of every video being the same intro, same shared part, and all these companies being scared of showing footage before the movie comes out," says Carlino "We did more than two-dozen Webisodes, and the reality is that 95 percent of that footage isn't even in the movie, because that was all extra crap that would normally get cut."
Joe, Corey, and Gary wanted to show that there's more to these riders' seasons than a three-minute part, with the hope being that These Days will reveal what it takes to put a part together. It's a more journalistic approach and one that's sure to resonate. Says Tim Eddy, "In the end, my part is really the least of what my season was, you know? So the Web videos are sweet because it shows what we actually go through."
Adds Nick Dirks, "It shows the adventures that come along with filming a part."
And while shot, shot, shot action parts are certainly rad to watch, Joe hopes These Days will be more revealing and reach all who watch on a deeper level. We all struggle to progress. And that, among other things, is what this movie is about. Joe adds, "I want it to show all those things that we all go through when we're trying to push ourselves and our snowboarding."
How It's Done
It was mid-March when the crew assembled in Cooke City, Montana. At this point everyone was sitting on some solid shots but were wanting for more backcountry footy. It'd been the best winter in recent memory in Montana, and Cooke City was firing. This place has been the place in snowboarding for some time now. Every winter every major film crew can be found there, holed up for weeks at a time, pillaging like pirates. This end of the road locale has got a lot to offer for the shot-hungry shred. The town itself is kind of a drag. There's no après scene. It's overrun by slednecks. There are only a couple places to eat, and the gas station is your best bet for morning coffee. But the lack of amenities means fewer distractions. So really, Cooke City is a place to go to work. There are jump spots everywhere and just as many cliffs, chutes, and open pow fields to fill any rider's powder-shot quota. And that's pretty much what everyone set out to do.
Chad Otterstrom was showing everyone how it's done. He's been in the game longer than some of these dudes have been snowboarding. He knows what he has to do and does it. He finds a jump spot, builds, guineas, gets it dialed, and drops those hammers. There was one day in Cooke when Chad got seven shots. When prodded for an explanation of the method to his radness, he's characteristically nonchalant. "I don't know, maybe it's 'cause it was the end of the season and I was kinda stressed," he says laughing and not sounding the least bit stressed. "No, but really it's probably 'cause it's that time of the year when you have to go out and just get the job done.
Chad's ability to get the job done had the dudes in the crew calling him "The Godfather," and while Chad will tell you that nickname makes him feel old, you can see he's also flattered by it. He knows it carries more of a connotation than being old.
"We all look up to him," says Lucas. "In Cooke city we all followed his lead, like if he would say that a jump might work or maybe not, then we'd all listen, 'cause it's Chad and that guy is on point. Plus he's just so mellow and super positive and never takes out any of his stress on anyone else. He's a good person for sure and so easy to look up to."
Every tribe needs an elder. That's Chad. Joe knew he needed someone to help the less-experienced guys along and he just admires Chad's riding. The Cooke City trip was his time to show the young guns how to perform under pressure. Experience teaches you to make your shots count. But his fifteen-plus years in the game have also taught him an admirable capacity for modesty. Chad summed it up, "Yeah, I don't have any explanation why I can do that, it just seems to work out. I usually have good springs."
And it turned out the rest of the crew was about to have one hell of a spring as well.
Right At Home
Late March is usually reserved for park shoots. But that wasn't the case for this crew. With snow still nuking the Northwest, the third week in April proved one of the most productive of the season. Corey and Gary were holed up in Washington watching it dump for days on end. When they caught word of a break in the weather they called Joe, and in no time everyone was headed north. It was Lucas' turn to play host; he embodies snowboarding in the Northwest. He was raised in the shadow (that is, if the sun ever shined) of Mt. Baker in the sleepy and soggy hamlet of Glacier. He's won the pro division of the Legendary Mt. Baker Banked Slalom. He's probably part billy goat. And you don't want to go following him or his homeys around their home mountain. You'll end up on top of lines you have no business riding.
"He's loose," says Nick. "He sees something and doesn't think twice about it. He just sends it and somehow always lands. And that's why he's my favorite new boarder."
With the crew gathered and the skies clearing they headed into the backwoods. The spots they found were better than anyone could've imagined. Claims that entire parts could be filmed in these zones were made with confidence. Thanks to Lucas' local knowledge they stumbled across some of the best terrain anyone had ever shredded. "It was sunny and the snow was perfect and the whole crew was just going off," says Lucas. "There was one day when between the five or six riders I think we got like fifteen shots for the video. It was just one jump after the other—everyone just split up and got it done."
The two natty shreds, Lucas and Dustin, sought out and destroyed a handful of pat-downs, while the two backcountry rookies, Louif and Nick, tag-teamed a cheesewedge. Jonas Carlson and Robbie Walker, two dudes who'd proven they could shred in the park but hadn't yet shown their worth out in the wilds of the backcountry, worked together and rode away with enders. Everyone was impressed with everyone. "Seeing Robbie doing these insane park tricks on backcountry jumps, that stoked me out for sure. Plus it was just so cool 'cause it was my zone and I got to show 'em around," says Lucas.
And that's how it was all season.
"Everywhere we went it was someone's local spot," says Tim. "Which makes life a lot easier."
"Yeah and watching people enjoy the place you grew up is always awesome," adds Nick. When each dude adds to the equation you're bound to do good. And ask all these guys who impressed them most and every one of them has a different answer. Some saw something in someone, others in another, and in the end this made for a crew of riders that complemented each other. It also made for a snowboard movie that has it all.
"The coolest movies are the movies that have everything," says Tim. "That's my kind of movie, 'cause I like to ride everything and I think we've got everything covered."
That's An Ender
So everybody brought something to the party. Everyone had something to offer. And the movie offered these guys a chance to show what they could do. That's what Carlino wanted. He knew these guys had the skills, but saw that they didn't have the platform to show it off. He managed, by some stroke of luck or genius (most likely the latter), to choose a crew that not only worked well together, but really banded together, became friends, and put out some top-shelf parts in the process. "It think it's because everyone's still pretty young," says Joe. "No one's really jaded yet, they're all just really hyped all the time, all whoooooo, all the time. They just want to snowboard all the time and that's it."
That is it. Get a like-minded group of innately talented dudes together and give them the opportunity to show everyone what they've got and you're bound to blow doors. And by the last night in Snoqualmie it was clear that everyone was bummed the season was almost over. Sure, they were happy with how it played out, but they all were starting to realize they'll never be a part of a crew like this again. "I think that no matter what I do with snowboarding from here on out, this is going to be my favorite thing that I've done," says Nick. "It's just been such a crazy experience."
I asked Nick about which trip of the season was his favorite. He thought for a minute, then said: "This one. Yeah, this one, 'cause everyone's here and partying and things are kind of wrapped up, so it kind of feels like the end of the school year, except with a lot of brews and RVs. It feels like a finale, it's been fun."
"Yep, now we're getting kicked to the curb," half-jokes Jonas Michilot.
"But we're gonna start our own crew," Dirks interjects. " Yeah it's just gonna be all these guys. We're gonna call it Those Days."
Of course, 'cause those were the days.
To buy These Days now click HERE
Check out These Days teaser HERE
Click here for Transworld Itunes store These Days Directors Cut
Check out the Behind the Lens With Joe Carlino Video HERE