words: Mary Walsh
photos: Mary Walsh and Chris Beresford
Earlier this month, the Justin Meyer, the lensman and leader behind Videograss, collaborated with his crew to premiere the newest VG offering Visitors in Salt Lake City, Utah. The post-Colorado kick off to the Visitors premiere tour came only a few weeks after filming had finished for the year-and-a-half-long movie, a schedule that deviated from the normal season-long/fall-release hustle that filmers and riders are traditionally relegated to. Meyer had cut the tether on that schedule and taken the beginning of the 2017 winter to continue to film with Jake Olson-Elm, Jeremy Jones, Joe Sexton, Jake Welch, JP Walker, Spencer Schubert, Zak Hale, Benny Urban, Mark Wilson, Justin Fronius, Chris Bradshaw, Alex Cantin, Jed Anderson—a line up more than deserving of playing by their own rules. When they shut off the cameras at the very end of January, the crew had only a very short window to mold the movie, surely resulting in sleepless nights spent editing and refining, but the benefits of the mid-winter release were innumerable.
The shift in release offered up something that is hard to come by when it comes to video premieres: an additional element of anticipation and surprise. While it's redundant to reiterate the ubiquitous role that social media and instant video and photo gratification play in our everyday lives and therefore, our recording and broadcasting of the turns we make, we have all acknowledged the shift in how we take in the tricks logged by the professionals wo whome we pay attention. Instagram edits, Instagram stories, Instagram live…there's probably more than Instagram, too, but that continuous scroll is pretty effusive in telling the story behind making a video part. When movies premiere in their traditional autumn time slots, media outlets—of course including this one right here–quickly extoll the virtues of the videos, standard practice to satiate the excitement and expectation of the coming winter. It's spoiler season and while that's not a bad thing per se, even for those whose appreciation of standing sideways came after films had switched from VHS to DVD to the ethereal cloud, the increased element of surprise only adds to the esteem for a part well put together.
And that's what Meyer and his crew capitalized on this year with Visitors. In the midst of all of us strapping in and sending it down the trails at our respective home resorts, as we were enjoying powder turns and park laps, scanning Doppler radar for storm systems and driving back and forth from the mountain, the Videograss crew was out in the streets, adding to the already prolific footage they had stacked the winter previous with early 2017 hams. The rush of the fall premiere was over and in late January, when filming was finished and Visitors premiered at the annual SIA tradeshow in Denver, Colorado, leaks were absent, anticipation heightened, and VG had our undivided attention.
The Salt Lake City stop of the Visitors tour was the first post-tradeshow and the hometown showing for a majority of the featured riders. Meyer and fellow filmer Jeremy Thornburg (aka @jerm_worldwide), along with JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, Jake Welch, Spencer Schubert, Zak Hale, and Benny Urban (the newest SLC seasonal transplant) all reside in the Wasatch and Joe Sexton, Mark Wilson, and Justin Fronius, as well as VG filmers, Jake Durham and Anthony Tremblay had traveled to the Salty City for the premiere. Further adding to the impact of the evening, the movie was to be shown at a the Jordan Commons cinema outside of SLC proper, a megaplex of movies complete with a Coldstone Creamery, some sort of chocolate and candy store and an addition full food court that made the air inside the theater smell like the interior of the tree where the Keebler elves bake all their cookies. The Jordan Commons Theater is hallowed ground when it comes to showcasing snowboarding's best cinema. In the early 2000's, it was the setting for the annual Mack Dawg releases, including Shakedown and Chulksmack. It had been years since a snowboarding movie played in the stadium theaters there and with Visitors', it was a homecoming for many locals, like Milosport Manager Little Jeff, who had attended showings as groms.
The lobby of the theater filled quickly with Salt Lake's snowboarding community. High schoolers fresh off the schoolweek, shop kids from the surrounding towns, Brighton and Park City locals, and rad dads and moms who had their families in tow, exposing their grommets to their first snowboard premieres. The movie was scheduled for 7pm, and when it filled up before everyone in the lobby even realized they should find their seats, Meyer orchestrated a second showing to make sure everyone was able to witness his crew's season-and-a-half-long effort.
This is the part of the recap when we normally would dive into the movie itself, tipping our beanies to the tricks, slams, and time put down by all parties involved. Lauding the opener, celebrating the ender, and applauding the stacks of everyone in between. But watching Visitors mid-season was special. We had no major leaks and that's a rare thing when enjoying a movie for the first time. Whether the Videograss premiere tour has stopped in your mountain town, is approaching soon, or if you are waiting for the iTunes release in March, there are no spoilers here so that you are able to enjoy the film the same way we did. The line up is legendary, the tricks are insane, and the editing and soundtrack choices are on point, per usual from VG. For a film crew with a storied canon of snowboarding films, this is one of our favorites to date. Visitors is so good. Too good. Nice work, guys.
As the crowd and VG crew filtered out of the theater after the second showing, there was talk of the rest of the night. It was early still, and celebration post-premiere is generally standard. But, there was good snow at Brighton and you have to get up the canyon early on the weekend. Shooting had just wrapped, the movie was premiering, but there was more snowboarding to be done, right away.
Thank you to Justin, Jerm, Jake, Tony, Jeremy, Joe, JP, Spencer, Jake, Zak, Benny, Mark, Froni, Bradshaw, Alex, Jed, and everyone who made Visitors a very awesome addition to the snowboarding film canon. Now, if you haven't seen it, go watch it, asap.