words: Mary Walsh
photos: Mary Walsh and Mike Yoshida
This August, during the final session of summer camp, Jesse and Pika Burtner and Sean Lucey provided an opportunity for the snowboarding community currently present in Oregon to gather together and celebrate a season's worth of effort in the form of new Think Thank film, Methods of Prediction. Think Thank has long made the pilgrimage to Mount Hood to debut their annual offerings at end-of-summer premieres for the campers and staff at High Cascade. While the skate bowls behind Charlie's Mountain View were the screening location for legendary flicks like Stack Footy and Right Brain, Left Brain, the anticipation-heavy audience outgrew the venue and for the past few years, the films have been shown at the movie theater in Sandy. This premiere is always one of the year's best because its timing and location (and parties involved) catalyze a sense of community that isn't always present in current, frenzied movie tours. On Monday, August 10th, a caravan of vehicles convened in the Sandy Cinemas parking lot, and with almost the entire Think Thank crew present, friends were more than excited to celebrate the hard winter work put down by their buddies. The buzz was heavy for the first official viewing of the film.
A proper parking lot tailgate session transition to filling the seats, packing the stairs, and lining the walls of the theater, After rider introductions by Burtner that were met with rowdy hollers, the lights dimmed and the film rolled.
Over the past thirteen years, Jesse Burtner, his wife, Pika, and Sean Genovese's brainchild, Think Thank has been a mainstay of snowboarding cinema. The list of influential riders that count Think Thank segments as their first full parts is long and incredibly impressive. The humble and homegrown sensibility of these movies belie the impact that this crew has had in snowboarding for over a decade. Burtner himself is definitively one of the most influential moviemakers in our community, a single human catalyst for tricks, filming and editing, and riders themselves. For any snowboarding connoisseur/nerd, Patchwork Patterns, Stack Footy, Thanks, Brain (among others) are staples when it comes to significant snowboard cinema. Well, Methods of Prediction, crafted under the directorial leadership of Sean Lucey, has immediately established itself, even after only one viewing, at the top alongside other Think Thank classics.
Right out of the gate, Methods of Prediction is flush with fast-paced, staccato shots full of traffic cones, Jersey barriers and classic Think Thank originality. The steady current of Think Thank's hallmark creative riding style continues to evolve seamlessly as new riders are brought into the fold. It's a pretty insane dichotomy that this band of boarders is able to uphold: expectations are exceeded every year as familiar style is combined with constant pushing of the envelope. I won't fully divulge opener/ender spoilers, because as with all great Think Thank movies, a second (or third, or fourth) look is required viewing in order to really let it all sink in. As for standouts, though, the movie is just plain sick as a whole. Sean Lucey's directing style in his second time at the helm after last year's Think Thank Almanac continues to extend seamlessly and propagate the Think Thank empire. Nial Romanek's part was his best offering yet. Brandon Reis' section is a favorite; both on the ground and in the air, Reis rules. Parker Duke and Desiree Melancon stacked impressive segments steeped in proper style, especially considering they both weren't afforded full filming years because of injury (raising anticipation for 2016). Max Warbington is so much fun to watch snowboard. Ted Borland had a great winter and put out a part loaded with inventive clips. Ryan Paul threw down in what is likely his best part to date, as well. Mitch Richmond's rail game was on point, Sammy Spiteri is smooth, Erik Karlsson and Freddy Perry's shared part was sick, and Brandon Hammid and Justin Keniston both came through with plenty of proper hammers. Burtner's section was filled with technically savvy tricks that he made appear much easier than they are, complete with a mini-barrage of no-binding flip tricks on a Brighton box. Topping it all off, this year's Big Mess section was a seriously stand-out montage, with a roster of riders that laid out some heat, including Jack Harris, Ben Bogart, Chris Beresford, Scott Stevens and Brady Lem. We're already lobbying now for a Genovese appearance in next year's Big Mess.
Most importantly, though, the above short description doesn't do the riders their due by any means--one watch isn't enough to catch all of the goodness in a Think Thank film. When the credits started rolling in Methods of Prediction, another viewing already felt necessary. But the world premiere is not only about what's playing on the screen but about the people watching it, too. As the crowd filtered out of the movie theater and back into the balmy Oregon night, positions were once again taken up truck tailgates and open wagon trunks doors. The folks that made this movie, Lucey, Burtner, Pika, Paul Heran, all of the riders, and many more individuals once again provided an early kick off to the winter season that not only drives the urge to make turns of your own, but reinforces that there are some really cool things happening in snowboarding that are interesting, unique, creative, inclusive, and above all, fun. And luckily for everyone, there's no sign of any of it slowing down.
Thank you to the whole Think Thank crew for making this movie, showing this movie, and sharing their winter with all of us.