Warp Wave’s Aurora Boardealis World Premiere Lights Up Tahoe

Warp Wave founders Eric Messier and Gray Thompson with late addition Johnny Brady, who describes himself as, "the 'trick guy' of the crew without enough style to make pow turns look good." Whatever. Johnny's ability to boost rounds out the film and clearly pushes the rest of the guys.
Aurora Boardealis cinematographer Sam Tuor with a thermos full of kratom, Jackson Fowler, and photographer Ben Birk.
Together, Johnny Brady and Taylor Carlton rotate an estimated 20,000 degrees in Aurora Boardealis, mostly off wedges in the Sierra backcountry.
Roommates Johnny Brady and Gray Thompson arguing over who bought toilet paper last while Eric Messier looks on.
FREE thinker Nick Russell, me feeling very happy to not be in a car anymore, and Colorado-to-California transplant Jackson Fowler—one the newest names on the Warp Wave roster.
Left to right: AJ Lawson, Paul Heran, Ryland West, Brad Farmer, Robbie Sell, Brooke Summers, and Nick Visconti
Nick Russell with his mom, Amy, Danny Davis whose cameo clips in Aurora Boardealis are mental, and Marge.
Nick Russell explains the concept for FREE: traveling the world chasing pow with your friends, minus the big sponsor checks that usually support that type of behavior.
Shot entirely on 16mm and Super 8, FREE is the purest documentation of powder riding you'll see this year.
Signature Stasinos style.
Sierra Surfers: Nick Russell, Eric Messier, Taylor Carlton, Danny Davis, Johnny Brady, Ben Birk, Sean Kerrick Sullivan, Sam Tuor, Jackson Fowler, Zander Blackmon, Curtis Woodman, and Gray Thompson.
A warning before the melting of minds.
Standing room only.
Name one person who doesn't enjoy powder boarding with friends. If that person exists, they will despise this movie.
The cast: Eric 'Airtime' Messier, Gray 'The Editor' Thompson, Tucker 'Backies' Andrews, Nick 'Couloirs' Russell, Taylor 'Jokes and Jumps' Carlton, Johnny 'Trick Guy' Brady, Wyatt 'Rudder' Stasinos, Zander 'Not a rail in sight' Blackmon, Jackson 'Squid' Fowler, Felix 'The Euro Cat' Mobarg, Griffin 'Splitboards' Siebert, and Curtis 'The Pilot' Woodman

Photos: Chris Wellhausen

A movement is defined by the top result in a Google search as a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas. And what started with a couple avant garde edits in 2012—featuring Eric Messier's reinvented approach to snowboarding and a relatively unheard of Gray Thompson—has grown into something which fits that definition, at least in the artistic sense. Warp Wave has figured out a way to snowboard on their own terms, within their means, and document it in a way appealing enough to sell out two show times at the world premiere of their second full-length film, Aurora Boardealis, and Nick Russell and the Stasinos’ brothers’ FREE.

Snowboarding has always fostered a young demographic, and some of today's up-and-comers may not realize how much has changed in the last decade. The Warp Wave crew is old enough to know things were different not so long ago but young enough to adapt. To say snowboarding is changing would be as obvious as stating the same of media. It's a conversation overheard at about every industry event. "No one's buying DVDs; everything is consumed in 15-second bytes." It's not inaccurate as much as it is inevitable.


Pulling into the parking lot of the Tahoe Art Haus on a cold, drizzly Thursday evening after driving from sunny Southern California, the success of Warp Wave's adaptation was apparent, and the line to enter the venue was thick. Gray Thompson looked frantic and happy as he handled the last-minute logistics of premiering a film one year in the making and four years coming.

Snow camping is what made Aurora Boardealis possible. | Photo: Sean Kerrick Sullivan

Inside, damp technical garments dripped and beers were sipped with awareness that the rain outside the window was solidifying at higher elevations, fueling the buzz in the lobby. The crowd funneled into the theater as Nick Russell took the stage and introduced FREE, a 16mm and Super 8 film produced by him and the Stasinos brothers, Wyatt and Cory. Meanwhile in Hawaii, Wyatt was busy hiking to a point break. FREE, Nick explained, was conceived of as a loose experiment—he and the Stasinos wanted to see how long they could travel the world chasing pow without much of the obligation that often subsidizes that dream. The result is a movie made on a shoestring budget, sure to resonate with anyone who has pushed into a pow turn and resurfaced, face caked with snow.

The lo-fi sensibilities of FREE complemented the evening's feature film well. Aurora Boardealis is a unique combination of retro and polished, of pow turns and air time, of pinched couloir descents and windlip slashes. It's part attainable, part pretty fuckin’ gnarly. It's trippy like mushrooms not mescaline. Though I've never experienced the latter, the point is Warp Wave’s signature psychedelia is present but doesn’t overpower the riding. It’s a movie that will appeal to a broad range of snowboarders and even those with no ties to wintersports, but simply an appreciation for filmmaking. Gray Thompson and Sam Tuor are a dynamic duo that has created one of the most original snowboard movies of late.

Snowboarding as an industry may be changing, but when your goal is simply to snowboard that change doesn't matter. And when you successfully document snowboarding how you want to, you influence the change. That’s exactly what Warp Wave's Sierra Surfers have done with Aurora Boardealis. It's a standout full-length film in an era of bite-sized content, but it wouldn't exist without Warp Wave's web edit heritage. If you do something well enough, people will sit down and watch. They'll even line up in the rain to do so.