P: Dean “Blotto” Gray

Aaron Hooper, one of snowboarding’s prolific cinematographers, has seen it all. Aaron has had a role in many different sides of the snowboard industry, all the while keeping grounded in his sequestered hometown of Aspen, CO. In some ways, this exemplifies the morals brought forth by the inspiration the Givin’ crew draws from Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” Aaron remembers where he came from, and though this seems simple enough, it’s also too often forgotten. With that said, Aaron heads up the cinematography/production side of making the Givin’ movies.

– Gary Tyler McLeod

Your experience in snowboard filmmaking (Burton, Videograss, etc.) includes working in some drastically different production environments. You seem to have found your home at Givin’, which hovers around the more lo-fi, grassroots extreme. What led you here and what do you appreciate about it?    

Well I guess what led me into filming snowboarding in the first place was skateboarding. I’ve always been passionate about filmmaking and I do believe there are truly no rules when it comes to painting pictures and imagining things in sequence. I’m super down with all types of filmmaking, from high-end works/looks and all the way to its polar opposite. Once we started Givin’ it was clear the direction we wanted to go. I feel like you have to ask yourself why your even in this snowboard industry to begin with. I realized that money was never something I chased within this career path, it was only the dream and passion of creating something that was purely imagined. When I first started capturing snowboarding it was all about cruising with your friends, having fun, and finding spots. As you get older and business, bills, girls, life haha, and responsibilities take over it was easy to forget why I was even in this industry. As I watched more and more friends get discarded by their sponsors, which would destroy their existence, I quickly realized that we’re all expendable. At this point Keegan [Valaika] and I had this as a regular conversation for a couple years which led us to the conclusion of starting Givin’. Givin’ is the stage that we control where we support each other, Givin’ is where we all came from, and Givin’ is that dream I had in the very beginning, the dream we all share that draws us to this sport we love. Our movies look the way they do because we just kinda go for it, just like you did when you were kids. We don’t have big budgets, big backing, and we’re still a new production company but we just wanted to bring it back to where we all started from. Even if we had the best equipment out there we will always take the Givin’ approach and for me I always remind myself to “remember where you came from”.

Where did Givin’ find the previously unknown Layne Treeter? His part in “Too” was sensational.

Layne is the man! Alex Stathis, E-Man Anderson, and Layne Treeter are good snowboarders! Real good! The first time I heard anything about Layne not even seeing him shred was from Keegan but I guess you could say Alex and E-Man brought him to us. Keegan has an eye for good snowboarders, he’s always telling me about a kid no one has heard of.

P: Dean “Blotto” Gray

I’ve known your brother Zach for a pretty long time. He used to spam my iChat with random little videos of Wyatt Stasinos that blew my mind. I was pleased to see his part this year come together so well. Why do you think Wyatt has laid below the radar for so long?

I think it’s the very thing that sparked and fueled the start of Givin’. It’s the things we hate about the industry. I guess company beliefs will always determine who they will support or not. Wyatt has always let his snowboarding do the talking and I guess some people prefer what they think a snowboarder should be. A snowboarder snowboards, and Wyatt is defiantly a snowboarder! Basically people are scared of individuals, but times are changing!

As I’ve watched Givin’ evolve, it seems like the crew shares some common ideals in their self-governed approach to snowboarding. Do you agree? What are they?

Yes I do! It’s a crew thing! We all have a say and all the managing members want to only focus more and more on that. It’s a challenge, there are a lot of opinions in the crew, and it’s important for everyone to be heard and to meet their goals. I personally just want everyone to be happy. :) Life’s “too” short!

You might be the only snowboard filmer I know whose 16mm camera isn’t just collecting dust. Why?

Hahahahaha That’s because film’s not dead! It will never be dead! You can make a movie using anything these days, if anything, film has only gotten better because very few are still using it. Film is special! It’s a creative process that you go through just to get one shot. It’s a different approach and once you get that footage back it’s amazing. The value of some film shots are priceless and it could all only be just some cruising around footage.

What other snowboard videos have you been into this year and/or last year?

I like the Jones movies he’s doing; pretty amazing if you ask me. I’m always a fan of Absinthe movies “too” haha. I watch all the videos out there I can. Skateboarding kills it!

P: Dean “Blotto” Gray

In the current "immediate media world" do you think there is still a future for snowboard films, and what kinds of changes can be made to how things are done?

Fuck I hope so!!Haha I think the change that needs to happen is that the snowboarders need to take back their sport and stand up for themselves. You definitely see more of that going down these days but it needs to keep up!

Is Givin’ moving back to Mt. Baker this winter? Rumor has it Forest will be posting up in Salt Lake City.

We’re all going to be chasing the snow as much as we can. We were blessed last year on how the snow came to us, real lucky. We do have some plans but we’ll have to see what the start of this winter does, I’ll keep ya posted.

Can we expect any other changes Givin’ will be making to its evolving formula?   

Fuck, I hope so! :)