Words and Photos: Larry Nuñez
Brain Farm Cinema’s “The Art Of FLIGHT” World Tour continues to steamroll its way across the country and made a stop in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011. One of the crew’s favorite venues, the elegant Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown’s Performing Arts Center is a highlight of the tour. Known in opera circles as “the Ellie,” this world-class acoustical hall is usually reserved for well-to-do patrons in tuxedos and gowns attending some sort of Mozart-related performance. But just as they elevated snowboarders’ social status with 2008’s “That’s It, That’s All,” Travis Rice, director Curt Morgan and the entire Brain Farm team took over this magnificent space once again and filled it with the sights and sounds of shred.
As Travis Rice’s right hand man on the mountain, Vans Team Rider Mark Landvik has been featured in a starring role in the last two Brain Farm productions. With his entertaining personality providing the comic relief in “That’s It, That’s All,” this time around Mark takes a more narrative stance in helping Travis tell the story of “The Art Of FLIGHT”. The film continues the path that Curt Morgan has charted since 2005’s “The Community Project”—a travel-based, documentary style snowboard film that aims to not only show the best snowboarding on some of the farthest reaches of the planet, but also the story behind what it takes to get there. The films have always been a departure from the traditional rider-jump-trick format that most every other snowboard “video” has followed since the beginning of the genre, and with “The Art of FLIGHT’s” multi-million dollar budget and lengthy production schedule, this time it’s bigger and better than ever.
“It’s a great relief because we’ve been working on this thing for two and a half years, and it’s definitely taking a step in a new direction as far as it being a snowboard documentary,” explains Landvik. “We knew that some hardcore shredders were going to hate on it, but we didn’t really care. [We were] kinda tired of making the same video for the last ten years… the static part-after-part kind of thing. So to put two and half years into it and not being sure how it’s going to be received by the public, and then to have it go beyond what we ever thought it would be is just amazing.”
Well-received is an understatement for the Denver crowd in particular, as over 2,000 rabid snowboard fans packed in to experience the film on the big screen. The fact that it has been available on iTunes since September 8th (and was the number two downloaded film behind “X-Men: First Class” at one point), and many of the moviegoers had most likely already seen it at home but still came out to the premiere is a testament to not only the film’s resonance with viewers, but the dedication of Colorado snowboarders as well.
“It’s definitely the most concentrated snow community with all the resorts here,” says Landvik. “Of all the people that were in there tonight, probably ninety percent of them were shredders. So Denver’s awesome, the crowd was super stoked and people were just in awe of the movie, so it’s really cool.”
Of course with such a different approach than what so many have come to expect from a snowboard movie, there’s bound to be some dissention. Not everyone is ready for this type of matured portrayal, especially with something so rooted in youth as snowboarding. But Landvik explains that the group made a conscious effort to do something new and in turn try to elevate snowboard filmmaking as a whole.
“It’s not a snowboard video, it’s a snowboard film. It’s in a different category,” Landvik says bluntly. “If you don’t want to watch where we’re going and you don’t want to pay attention to our story then you don’t have to, but that’s the movie that we wanted to make and portray to the rest of the world… not just the tight knit snowboard community which we’ve already been doing the last ten years of our life. We wanted to do something different.”
Doing something different has been the mantra of the crew for the last three films, and it appears to be paying off. With the backing of the newly formed Red Bull Media House and armed with some of the most technologically advanced camera equipment known to man, Brain Farm and their riders have proved there are no limits to what they can accomplish. As for now nobody is quite sure about where they go from here, but one thing is for certain: “The Art Of FLIGHT” has once again set a new standard in action sports cinematography for years to come.
“There are plenty of other movies out there to go and buy that are strictly… rider after rider, banger after banger, but I get tired of watching that,” Landvik concludes. “That’s all I’ve been watching for the last twenty years. Curt [Morgan] always wanted to evolve snowboard films, away from… for lack of a better word, snow porn. All our movies are travel-based; it gives you a little more insight into what we’re doing. I want to show people where we go and what we do. Even if we failed on some trips, we still put it in there and tell the story.”
For more info, go to artofflightmovie.com.