by Beck Trebesch
This fall has been a distinctly democratic one for the ski movie industry, with a seemingly unprecedented number of flicks dropping for free on Newschoolers, skiing’s famed internet forum, or YouTube. I, the diligent skier I am, have been doing my best to keep up as the mid-sixties palm tree balm of Northern California intensifies my lust for waist deep snow, kinked handrails, and cork 3 safeties. With there being so many exciting, independently created films available, I felt it was only right to compile a compendium of the best the sport has had to offer ahead of the new season.
Entourage - YAKTV. (Bozeman, MT, USA)
What the fuck is a YAKTV, you might ask? Is that some strange, out of pocket Barstool Sports reference that I’m just not getting? Thankfully, it’s not but unfortunately, it does stand for “You Already Know the Vibes.” And I did already know the vibes going into this one, following my scathing review of Entourage’s last film Collage. To my surprise and enjoyment, YAKTV. was a seriously notable improvement on the hodge podge, gimmick fest that was the last installment. The editing was more to the point, the filming made more sense, the skiing went harder; I couldn’t help but enjoy this 24 min helping from the crew. I would also like to commend Entourage’s successful pursuit of debuting the film at the Rialto Theater in Bozeman (theater debuts are a theme for this year). With our internet feeds being so saturated with content day in and day out, attaching a film to a public, tangible, lived experience, especially one where a large portion of the Bozeman community is participating, is seriously valuable in making this art meaningful, inclusive, and sustainable.
Carnage - Wasted Potential (Bozeman, MT, USA)
In my piece about Collage, last year I was going to cite Carnage’s last film, Subject to Change, as the beautiful, well-formed antithesis but time prevented me. A year on and the Carnage crew are still delivering gritty, unfiltered yet truly heartfelt productions to the absolute diehards of Bozeman’s freeride skiing population. Spitting with personality like Swift after a healthy hog of Copenhagen, this is the filmic equivalent to going to a Montana rodeo and successfully hijacking a bucking bronco or, more appropriately, Fritz’ snowmobile (sled in the local vernacular) erupting in flame at the start of the movie. Music is as important as ever in the extreme sport edit landscape and Wasted Potential exceeds with its eclectic employment of punk, metal, nu metal (let’s go), 2000’s hip hop, and alternative dance, pairing carnage to cacophony, smooth snowriding to silky synths, and Rage Against the Machine with the gnarliest sled segment in recent memory. There is such a consistent energy throughout this movie that materialized by the rough showmanship by the guys at the premier which I was lucky enough to go to in Bozeman the day before my 21st birthday. The after party was pretty fun, too…
SNP MT - So Not Pro (Missoula, Montana, USA)
To round out our Montana entries for this year is Missoula/Bozeman based crew SNP MT and their film, So Not Pro. With the other two Montana offerings fitting into a more classic ski film standard in regards to camera work and song choice, So Not Pro felt like it was more heavily informed by elements of skateboard/street culture. This was evidenced in stand alone shots, grungy but varied soundtrack, and the emphasis on urban skiing. For those who know William Strobeck’s style, characterized by slow frame rates, intense zooms, and straight forward angles, then Grant Larson’s undertaking becomes all the more recognizable as a tribute, worship even to that culture of videography. This was a super fun watch, with all the boys chipping in with big drops, precise rail sliding, big grins, and bone crushing slams across the 37 minute run time. They premiered this not once, not twice, but three times in Bozeman, Missoula, and Boulder, CO and for good reason. The public needs to see this.
Deviate - Good Luck (filmed in Wyoming and Idaho)
Here we shift gears from the up and coming amateur to the established pro. X Games medalists and famed stylers Jossi Wells and Torin Yater-Wallace teamed up with fellow pros Chris Logan, Birk Irving, and Cody LaPlante to put together an effortless package of backcountry booters, supple pillows, and jagged spines. It’s just a good, honest flick in ski movie terms. Nothing groundbreaking shot-wise, music-wise, vibe-wise. I can commend it for prompting me to say “wow, that’s big” on multiple occasions but in it being so clean (it is a Redbull sponsored project), so non-confrontational, so conventional, it didn’t quite stick with me like the other ones on this list did. There’s no doubt Chris Logan has the craziest cork 7 japan axis on the market right now but bottom line, I wish this one had a little more bite.
Child Labor - Take 3 (Salt Lake City, UT, USA)
Do you like watching grown men wearing beanies and smoking proper slam into asphalt streets and concrete walls covered with a vague amount of ice and snow? Do you need an education in style? Do you like Death Grips? Child Labor’s Take 3 has you covered in all departments in their new full length. The Utah crew are back with some of the best ACL-crunching, mind bending urban skiing in the amateur field. Cal Carson continues to be an absolute magician, Brolf got the Yung Lean makeover cut, Dakota is seen wearing a helmet, and Bennie is hippity hopping his way through Mormon country with ease; there’s a serious mystique about this crew embodied by Bennie emerging from a manhole cover to then hit a rail. The fisheye camera and nimble follow cams are serving these boys well too. My only gripe with this one is that while they took some really admirable risks with the soundtrack (Death Grips among multiple mashups and genre fusions), it did kinda kill the momentum of the film compared to their last one, Don’t Fret. But… Do I want them to change? Fuck no. Keep these children toiling away.
Forre - Forrmula (Ruka, Finland)
We round out with one of two international films I wanted to include in this year’s roundup and this one cannot, CANNOT be slept on. Probably the most strikingly beautiful film on the list, the Forre boys take to the grand streets of Finland and inject their own unique brand of technicality, style, and all out disregard for safety into the urban landscape. The amount of one of a kind features and spots they found in this movie might be a record breaking first for any ski movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not everyday you see someone grind a public sculpture made of abstract shapes or jump out of a 3 story graffiti-soaked, abandoned warehouse to near dead flat. Watching public urban form take center stage in this masterpiece was really refreshing. Also, the variety in everyone’s individual style which manifests in some seriously diverse trick selection leads to a dynamic yet compact experience. This really is the skier’s ski movie and there’s no doubt Forrmula was well worth the 10 dollars I paid for it.
Suede - Rip in Pieces (Stockholm, Sweden)
Rip in Pieces is not a mournful affair. Far from it. It’s celebratory. It’s innovative. It’s artful. Filmer/editor Emil Larssen combines one part patience, one part nimbleness to create a really, really fluid set of stunning skiing vignettes, spearheaded by our main cast of characters for the first 20 minutes. The introduction is truly something to behold. The Aegan blue ice graphic melts seamlessly into a slowly zooming shot of the Swedish backcountry, a temporal tribute to the environment, the molecules that make the sport possible. Filmic properties aside, the skiing in this movie is so fun to watch. These guys know their way around a ski. Nose, tail, edge, base; all parts got adequate attention on a series of urban features where just when you think the line or the trick is over, something else pops out. The Suede boys might not be going as big as some of their counterparts on this list but they make up for it with ingenuity and commitment to doing the right trick at the right time. I mean I don’t know I’ve ever seen a cork 7 lead safety look so goddamn good. Can’t wait for the next one.
Entourage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F25VakhuTgQ
Carnage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTG_j33QSow&t=1314s
SNP - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot0of6nuaTA&t=1303s
Deviate - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPU1a9y1nNg&t=1152s
Child Labor - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2mOtYThSAE
Forre (not free) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VtLEczD4ZA&t=657s
Suede - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4bUkTTr1iE&t=3s