Dan Brisse’s entry into Real Snow 2015, the all-urban, all-video snowboard contest.
Check out the interview below with Dan Brisse and his cinematographer Justin Hare.
What is it like filming for real snow? It’s a solid grind for sure… Two months of pretty much non-stop traveling, searching, building, and casual beatings…
How do you deal with the stress? I think I’ve gotten used to it… This is actually my 5th X Games part, and now it sorta just feels normal… I guess just focusing on the step by step process of building the part, and working real hard is what helps me.
Tell us about that tube! I was renting some equipment, and the owner asked what we were doing with it. I told him, and he got super hyped on us, which is always nice. So, Joe the owner of the rental business starts driving around town looking for spots for us to film on, on his days off…haha. He actually called me and started bouncing ideas off of me. In the beginning I was sorta just entertaining the ideas he had, thinking that he probably didn’t know what we were really looking for, but Joe ended up having a really solid eye for finding stuff. Joe’s family is sorta well known in the area for owning Real Estate and he started to bring up ideas in certain parts of the city that his dad owns. During our scope mission he brought up this picture of the tube, and on a photo it looked sorta decent, nothing like it looks like in person, so I told him we probably weren’t interested. And then his wife sent him another photo with the sun setting on it, and I decided at that point it was worth having a look. So our crew (Krister, Poganski and I) followed Joe to his house, and he had us load up on his snowmobiles he had parked in his front yard. We had to snowmobile out to the spot because the road wasn’t plowed. When we pulled up, we were all blown away at the size of this thing, and decided we wanted to hit it. This was at the very end of our first trip, so we all flew home for a break, and lined it up with Joe to come back and get it dialed in.
After all that, actually doing it was gnarly. It was even sorta scary being up in it, and as we were building it, the entire crew was sorta tripping. It was used in the 50’s and 60’s to crush iron ore I think Joe said. The tube was 52 feet off the ground with the platform take off inside. We had it set up for a solid week or more, waiting for the weather to calm down. That zone is literally a wind tunnel and the weather prevented us from hitting it. Then, getting the balls to jump out of it was tough. I’ve gotta give props to the man who sent it first. Mr. Krister Ralles. When he went the first time he literally overshot 90% of the landing. This feature was impossible to test speed on because we were not able to use our normal method, which is a highly complex process consisting of someone standing at the side to watch speed and give a thumbs up, or thumbs down for faster or slower. Krister and I battled this thing for a good 3-4 hours in perfect light, which was rad… I only got the Cab 5. Krister got a solid method and Back 3 if I remember correctly. We both kept exploding on impact and were actually really lucky to get the clips before the sun went down.
I know you work with a tight knit of helpers. who are they and what are their rolls? Yeah, the crew killed it again this year. I’ve learned, at the end of the day, your part is only as good as the crew of guys you are working with. I’ve been really lucky throughout the years, and have pretty much had sick crews every season for Real Snow, which is probably why I’ve been lucky enough to complete five of these parts. There are so many days, and spots where you really don’t want to push yourself, or step to certain features, and the crew helps you get it done. Of course you are always stoked after a spot is done, and you put in the effort, but sometimes you need the other dudes to pick you up and push you a little. Justin Hare was in charge of the project this year. He did and incredible job as always, and was super mellow to work with. I was impressed with how focused he was, and how committed he was from day one right up to the finish. Dan Tyler was there as a second angle, and brought a lot of solid fisheye work when needed, and some good help. Josh Molitor was in charge of all GoPro footage. He made sure I remembered to have a camera on me for certain spots, and flew the heli at every spot. Drew Poganski was hired this year as “the winch driver” haha. It might sound sorta crazy to some people, but after enough time you get good at driving the winch, and when I am hitting a feature that is gnarly, I really just want someone that is consistent. Krister was the main rider I spent time with, and for having a hurt ankle for most of Real Season he really made it happen. Bjorn came out a couple times as well, and he is always great to have around.
How do you find these huge spots? I don’t really know. It’s weird. They just show up. We all drive around and all of the sudden you just look over and see something where you get that old fashioned feeling. Where you’d do anything to bone her… haha No… yeah… I honestly can’t tell ya how they all come to be. They just start to pop up after hours of driving.
What was it like filming for Real Snow? Working on the Real Snow was a great way for me to get a change of perspective. Normally during the winter months I hibernate in the backcountry to shield my ears from the sound of snowboards on rails. This project gave me the opportunity to go in the opposite direction.
For the first time in almost 10 years my first turns of the season weren’t in pre-season pow, they were on man made snow at Trollhaugen and it was surprisingly fun! I found myself getting reacquainted with the Mid-West and got a look into the changing landscape of urban snowboarding. Not just through Brisse’s eyes, either, our crew was stacked with talent from Minnesota and Wisconsin which really rounded out the experience. Krister Ralles and Drew Poganski are talented snowboarders that were on the mission with us in case Brisse needed somebody to guinea pig a spot (just kidding, they were shovel / winch support duo). Also, Dan Tyler our fisheye specialist has the most insane shred DVD collection so he got me up to speed on what’s been happening in the streets.
I suppose I did feel a bit more pressure than normal due to the shrunken deadline, meaning that usually I’m grinding to produce a solid body of work over the course of a winter season, while Real Snow pushes you to produce something impactful with your name on it by Jan 15th.
What is your favorite shot you filmed for this part? Call me old fashioned, but I really like methods. When it came down to getting the shot, Brisse had to work for it. A clip feels more rewarding when it doesn’t come easy. I can still remember not knowing 100% that we would get it. Styling out a method and landing in the sweet spot of the concrete tranny took finesse and precision. The “simple” straight airs and powder turns can be way harder to get than viewers may think. The spot and the trick combined create a simple, beautiful equation that translates well visually.
How do you prepare for such a grueling film schedule?
Do you mean – how do you prepare to film with Brisse?! We had worked together a bit in the past, (I shot the backcountry segment of his ender part in 2009 for the Pirate Movie Production) so I knew he was a hard worker who fully commits, and that I’d have to match that. Part of me wanted to see if I could still keep up with him. Warm gloves, a good cup of coffee and wife who doesn’t give you too hard of a time when you miss Christmas help too!