It was different
That’s the best possible description of it: it was different.
The entire day of July 18, 2016, I had mixed feelings. Mostly feelings of anticipation and excitement, but paired with a very strong, somewhat unwanted, hint of jealousy. The Weather Outside is Weather was premiering at the cinema in Sandy, Oregon, a staple summer festivity for us glacial dwellers, and for the first time in three years, I was an outsider when it came to Think Thank. Usually I went into the movie premiere with heavy leaks, proud senses of who did what with which songs were used and how the titles and art inspirations might look. This year, I knew absolutely nothing. I had no idea what to expect. It was different.
I hopped in Pat Bridges’ car and headed down from Government Camp around sundown. He was driving Harrison Gordon and me. We each talked about what was to be expected. It soon became apparent that little was known aside from the fact that it was a small crew, rumored that no one had a full part, and that Lucey had taken to a few different cameras aside from the predicted choice of an HPX. (Turns out, The Weather Outside is Weather was filmed using an Ac160, GH4, Nizo Super 8, and a Krasnogorsk super 16).
I had no idea what to expect.
Bridges grabbed a very large bag of popcorn with way too much butter, and good grace found us with seats in the back despite arriving almost on time. The theater was filled with a lot of people, mostly pro snowboarders, fans of snowboarding, snowboarding advocates, and industry heads. It was a respectable crowd.
The actual movie is a blur to me at this point. It was a blur to me while it was happening. I remember the way it made me feel. Excited. Antsy. Breathless. Packed in the theater. Pretty much every seat filled. Surrounded by friends, surrounded by excitement, stimulated with a very large glowing screen and constant vibrations in my ears. Loud, fast, dark, light, easy, hard, clip and clip after clip was shown. I couldn’t keep up. I needed the space bar to pause and the left arrow to rewind the motion then replay it frame by frame to understand what they were doing. When one thing ended, it never really ended. So, you never found yourself waiting for what was coming next. It was constant. A constant punch in the face. A constant “wow” moment. Sammy Spiteri, Ted Borland, Brandon Reis, Phil Hansen, Jesse Burtner, Ben Bogart, Blair Habenicht, Freddy Perry, Max Warbington, Chip Keniston, Nial Romanek, Ryland West, and Ryan Paul. All aggressively punching us in the face, over and over again for thirty-six minutes. Rails, powder, jumps, lids, knobs, long lens, follow-cams, camera light, one-footers, bails, bails, so many bails. Small spots, big spots, medium spots, unthinkable spots. The creativity was at an all time high. People yelled, people screamed, people cheered, people laughed. We were watching something new for the first time. I knew this was special. This was going to be special. This was different.
I don’t mean to single out. I love each of you equally, but Phil Hansen. A moment in time broke. A point in the movie where it quieted and a unique introduction with an unfamiliar name was granted. Phil Hansen.
“Mike Swearingen had met him at a skate event and convinced them to put him on the skate team,” said Sean Lucey. “Lib Tech Skate. He came out to Seattle and was insane. We started calling him the most interesting kid in the world because none of us knew anything about him. We went Greenlake Skatepark and he did a tre flip lipslide, and we were like, ‘He’s insane.’ The next day we went to the Ballard Bowl, where any trick is sick, and in the first fifteen minuets he did a padless McTwist. He made everyone there go dead silent. No body had seen anything like that, in fifteen minutes, padless, in the gnarliest bowl. It was insane. He’s insane. He became even more interesting when we found out he was a camper at High Cascade. He went to Superpark even. We didn’t know he went to Superparks. We didn’t know he could do double corks. We didn’t know that he snowboarded. No one knew he snowboarded.
“Last fall he moved to Washington from Colorado. He moved in with Mike near the mountain. We started filming skating nonstop. The footage kept stacking and we kept saving it because we didn’t know what to do with it. Winter started and we kept filming. I would be home between trips this winter and just meet up with Phil. I didn’t plan on him being in the movie at all. Then we were planning on going to Alaska and I pushed to have him on the trip because he was still ripping. That sealed the deal. He came out and chucked and got a ton of clips. All of a sudden we could make a half-snow half-skate part. He had a bunch of skate footy that was so gnarly without a plan. Then when spring came he did even crazier shit. All the while filming snowboarding at the same time. He’s the best dude. Ever. He’s the least kook, down for everything. Snd he’s 19.”
The movie continued on and then ended, and everyone started chanting, “Phil.” A verbal ovation. I had never experienced anything like that, and I don’t think Phil had either. That was different.
Sean Lucey made the entire movie alone. No one to influence his decisions, no one to bounce ideas off, just him and his computer screen. The movie took the whole year to make. Not six weeks, not three weeks, not one month. I asked him what his main inspirations were and what the hardest part was. “Over the whole project, I was watching all the Volcom movies a lot. All the Veeco movies,” Lucey stated. “I had been making edits that were looser. I didn’t want to make another movie with parts. I wanted to edit it how it all happened. The hardest thing was that nobody wants to sponsor a snowboard movie anymore. We couldn’t hire other filmers, travel budgets didn’t exist, and in my mind, I was in the mentality that I was going to make a movie that wasn’t like the ones we did in the past. I don’t know.”
It was different
As the evening wound down, I walked around the parking lot and grabbed a couple reviews, had a few beers, shared a few hugs, and snapped the photos that you see above. Then we got into Pat’s rental car, which Chris Grenier had rear-ended, that Pat refused to not smoke in. I love driving with Bridges. Not only does he put on the most insanely good and insanely bad playlists, but he talks. He talks about snowboarding. Unguarded.
“I thought it was great. I loved it. For some, in the past succeeding at the ensemble approach can be illusive. Except, in this instance. They kept it to a tight crew. They kept it nice. They didn’t fall into the location-based format. The way they put a spin on it, was that they chose themes. It was lids, knobs, and Phil. There was a hammer moment at the end. Each section had an escalating moment, which was great, but they saved the best for last. Instead of going, ‘Oh we went here, we did this.’ Invariably, that makes it too hard to have a high level of quality, but by sitting there and saying, ‘Well, take all the best knobs, all the best lids, all best clips and section it off….'”
It’s hard enough traveling around with a winch, let alone twenty trashcan lids. I fucking thought it was great because it wasn’t a shit ton of people. You don’t have to waste time introducing everyone because there are only six people. Everything’s a fucking montage. This wasn’t a montage. It was an ensemble. The integration of snowboarding and skateboard was needed. They wanted to introduce Phil. He didn’t have enough snow shots. It was gnarly, but there wasn’t enough and he needed more. So they put in the skate shots. He might be the best nineteen-year-old in the backcountry right now.
In all actuality, I think it was a much more disciplined Think Thank movie than they have done [in the past],” Bridges continued. “It was avante garde, but it was cohesive. So many times art for arts sake isn’t accessible, but this time it was. That right there is a passion project. That movie was great.