Making snowboard films these days is no easy task. People will moan and groan about not releasing footage quick enough, or for free online, and then those same people will bitch and complain about there not being good shred movies anymore. They will comment cliché gripes about how all they care about is riding with friends and then turn around and rip a video part to shreds for not being sick enough. They’ll bust on movies that take a different approach to storytelling and then downplay releases as being “formulaic.” This year, Nike is taking an interesting approach to the movie model by releasing not one but two very unique and distinct movies. Putting the full weight of the collection of snowboard icons that is the Nike team, as well as an army of established filmers and industry veterans, behind producing these two films. The two projects, one being action-based and one more documentary-based will no doubt be two of the most talked about and anticipated releases of the fall.
Leading up to the release of the first film, Nike has been dropping perspective videos that go a little deeper into the project and the characters involved. Their newest edit features Austin Smith, and more specifically, Austin’s winter riding a unique powder shape that Nitro made for him. Like many riders that SNOWBOARDER Mag tends to gravitate towards, Austin is an all-around shredder that has literally grown up in the mountains and seemingly in front of the camera. He’s a rider with a ton of style who looks at everything from a different perspective, from lines on the mountain, to energy drinks, to well, even the shape of his snowboard. We caught up with Austin to see how his winter went.
How did things go for you filming for the Nike project this season?
Powder. Lots of it, and that is the best way to measure how things went. It was fun filming with those guys. I usually just film with Bryan [Fox] and Curtis [Ciszek] and to mix it up a bit for a season was fun.
Where did you get the best powder this year?
We spent three weeks outside of Revelstoke, BC snowmobiling and it was nuts. The weather report never even called for very much snow. It was supposed to be partly sunny most of the time, but every day when we got out there we would find another foot of snow. By the second week we had tunnels from our snowmobiles going out on the trail each day. It was too deep at times, you couldn’t get any speed or hardly turn it was just so deep and light. It was awesome.
Tell us a little about the board we see in the edit. How’d it come about and how does it actually ride?
I got all fired up after a Nike trip two years ago in Japan. Everyone had cooler snowboards than me and I wanted one. I came home from that trip and a friend Joe Blecha and myself built a snowboard. I rode it a bit that winter but by the summer it had fallen apart. I sent the remains to Nitro and they made a proper replica and I had the greatest time riding it this winter.
This was one of your first times filming in AK; how’d that go? What were some of the things that surprised you heading up there, like what is something that doesn’t necessarily translate on film that you can’t really prepare for until you are there?
This was my first time ever to Alaska; I was terrified. I was going up there with Nicolas [Müller] and Gigi [Rüf], which was awesome in the sense that they could help me out but also really intimidating because they are the wizards up there and that’s who I was trying to keep up with. It’s the greatest place I’ve been, and it’s so difficult to ride well and impossible to prepare for. Flying around in the heli is a trip on its own, then you have to judge where to go and how big stuff is based on a tiny photo you snapped on your way up. Pretty much none of it translates. When I was younger I always skipped Alaska or big mountain parts but once you get a taste you realize that it is hands-down the craziest thing in any video.
Who’s part in the movie are you most looking forward to seeing?
I am really excited to see Part II. It’s a less traditional snowboard movie and is about what we all put into snowboarding and what the contest dudes do. It will be all of us talking shit and probably saying some stuff we will regret when we see it.
How was it working with Joe Carlino?
It would have been better if he came out sledding with us more. I only got to go on three trips with him but it’s always good to get some JoCo in your life.
How does it compare filming for a small scale video like you did with your friends for “The Rascals” as opposed to filming for a large scale project like “Never Not?”
That’s one of my only regrets in snowboarding is not filming for “The Rascals.” Carlino had me running around filming for “Retrospect” that year. I gave them a few shots in the end but when I watch that movie it bums me out I wasn’t around and a part of it more. I’m not sure I answered your question but filming with Nike has been the same for me as any movie, you just give it 110% and hope it shows at the end of the year.
You and your friends seem to have a lot of fun both on and off the hill. Can you give us a funny story from this winter?
Thinking about it bums me out because it reminds me how terrible my memory is. I can hardly remember where we went, much less the events that took place. That’s why I always hope for a good bonus section in the videos because that’s the closest thing I have to a diary to keep track of my life.
Finally, does it trip you out how much the Drink Water movement has taken off? How does it feel to see so many different types of people identifying with it?
It’s pretty wild for sure. But I’m also hyped to see we weren’t the only ones thinking it was needed and hyped to have the support of so many friends and peers. It’s more of a movement than anything and if it was just Bryan and I it wouldn’t move very far. Seeing it on random kids’ boards at the hill is my favorite, followed closely in second by Terje [Haakonsen].