So there I was sitting in DIA delayed due to something happening in Vegas, but I think it was more the fact there was a storm hammering Denver. I had the usual cast of characters surrounding me, the old couple trying to visit their grand kids, the lady that kept complaining about how cold it was, and of course pro shred Celia Miller chilling three rows in front of me. So while everyone was going about their lives I was checking emails religiously and texting my friends like a 13 year old girl. Right as my plane appeared from the haze of snow and fog, Rory from Vice TV sent me an email saying Trevar was in Vegas and we should meet up, quickly I responded then headed forth into the land of silicon, hookers, and watered down drinks.
While initially I had wanted to sit down with him right away, scheduling conflicts happened plus it was the last days of SIA in Vegas, which meant epic party time. Waking up on day 4 face down in a pile of stickers, clothes, and my own sweat I had but one goal for the day and that was to get Trevars story.
So there I sat in the overly bright food court wearing my sun glasses to shield my brain from the halogen lasers that were fully intent on frying my mind, when I got the call that it was go time to sit down and do the interview. The last time I ever did an interview I was 15 years old and it was with a friend of mine in my high school speech class, you can imagine the anxiety I had when going into this. That was flushed away in seconds when a Sasquatch of a man walked up with a big toothy grin and shook my hand. Instantly we hit it off and were sharing war stories of the good old days of riding Holiday Valley in Western New York. What we came to find out was we rode that resort during the same time frame and never knew each other. Perhaps it was this fact that made this interview go so well, maybe it was just two guys haggard from a rough week of work, partying and starting to unwind? Honestly who really knows? But what transcribed from our meeting was an interview of a guy that’s doing his part to showcase the history of snowboarding for the world to see. These are Trevars words and this is his story.
Who is the man behind the camera doing Powder & Rails, tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Punxsutawney, PA. I lived in Pittsburgh for about five years and I’ve been in Ridgewood Queens, NY for about a year and a half.
Trevar and friends slaying the mean backyard hills of Punxsutawney as teenagers.
So this question is for Boots, he’s wondering when you’ll come back and shred 7 Springs with him and also if you still rock the red bank robber mask and Arnette goggles circa 97?
Haha. I did get to out to Seven Springs around Christmas time, which is better than last year because I didn’t even get to ride there last year or hardly at all. I would ride with Boots anytime; I always really liked riding with all of those guys from Pittsburgh. As for the red mask my Dad used to take me sled riding in the backyard when I was little and he used to wear it. So years later I found it in the basement and it brought back all these memories so I thought it would be good to wear on really cold days. I did get those Arnette goggles in’97 and I was finally able to replace them this year thanks to the people over at Burton. I’m very thankful for that. I had super glued and hot glued the foam back to the frames a ton of times and the coating wore off the outside, which was making really hard to see out of.
Did being a part of PIST (Pittsburgh Intercollegiate Snowboard Team) have anything to do with you choosing the career path you’re in now?
Honestly, I would’ve probably quit college if those kids hadn’t created it. It gave us something to do rather than going nuts all the time, it most definitely didn’t deter that though. We were sponsored by Iron City beer the first year, how insane is that; I don’t know what they were thinking, but thank you. The trips were really fun and it gave you something to look forward to, it was almost like going on these little mini-tours. We had the big white vans and everything. Especially, because it was so cheap and accessible, PIST made it possible to go snowboarding all over the place. It basically became a big group of people that went snowboarding, skateboarding, and did party time together. The main thing that PIST gave me was a reason to continue learning how to shoot and edit, which had started years before with the influence of skateboarding videos.
Also how’d you fall into getting this opportunity?
I definitely didn’t fall into this at all. I created it from the ground up and it took a lot of work and time. I specifically moved to New York because I wanted to work at VBS the day I saw it. I saw it because I always check the The Skateboard Mag’s website and they posted a link to a show called Epicly Later’d that had Dustin Dollin in it. I watched it and thought it was awesome, from there I explored the rest of the site. The day I saw VBS I really wanted to be a part of what they were doing. The style seemed so fresh and raw. At the time I was already doing a wide range of video production from gripping to editing and shooting a feature length documentary with a friend. So I emailed and mailed letters for about 6 months and finally heard back from someone, then I moved to NY a few months later. While doing some post production work at VBS I brought up the idea of doing a snowboarding doc style show. Then I was put in touch with Erik Lavoie, who, along with his brother Dana, took me out to lunch and we talked out what we thought would be possible. I wrote up an official pitch and put the creative direction to paper or digital paper at least. Burton was receptive to the idea and then I started trying to figure out how to track people down. I knew zero people in snowboarding so finding anyone, let alone enough people to create a show seemed impossible. It took a long time but I finally figured it out. Damian Sanders was the first to respond and I was so excited to get an email back from him. I remember calling him for the first time around Christmas ’07. After that, it took time but, one person led to another and another.
Who currently influences you the most with your filming?
“End of the Century” is a documentary on the Ramones that had a lot of influence on me. First off, the personalities are so amazing no one could’ve made that story up. I don’t like it so much for filming techniques but more for story telling and editing. I really liked it because they combined a lot of different video formats from over the past 30 years or so. Some crappy some good, bad audio, good audio, whatever, they made it work and there are lots of old photos. It’s pretty cool because it’s something that I hope to do successfully with all the footage and photos from over a rider’s career mixed with current interviews. Also, End of the Century has a really good message about work ethic. You have to see it to understand.
As for people I know personally, I would say Lauren Cynamon, who edits Epicly Later’d on VBS. Her editing choices are amazing. She has some unexplainable talent to pick the right B-roll clips, audio, and candid shots to draw the viewer in but not in a way that it’s necessarily jumping out at you. It has nothing to do with eye gouging action, it’s using really subtle moments to show personality without trying too hard. Also, she does a great job of picking what’s important without really knowing everything about the subject. That’s really difficult. Especially with something like skating because it has a lot of technical facts and names and a lot of history to take into consideration. Also, she has Chris Grosso there to make sure everything is legit. I used to think I knew a lot about skateboarding, but he’s on another level. I’ve learned a lot just from watching her work and talking to her about editing. She edits a majority of the Toxic pieces on VBS too. The Garbage Island series is really good, even though some people get fired up about the story focusing on the VBS people on board. I still think she did something really creative and true to real life. She kills it on anything that’s a character study. I always tell her she’s my favorite editor but she probably thinks I’m kidding. She’s got a pretty awesome cinema verite style going that’s kind of hard not to like.
Dana Lavoie shoots the majority of “Powder & Rails”. It’s kind of hard to ask all the questions and keep on track while shooting and monitoring audio. He does a good job and I’m happy with the final product. I’ve filmed five or so of the interviews myself, which is fun, but it has its down sides. I think the camera work suffers more than the questions when I do that, but I really like shooting. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Also, I really like collecting B-roll, because while interviewing I usually get a few shots in mind. I shot the opening title sequence for the show. I’m pretty excited about that one.
Sorry for the rant, you probably wanted a snowboard video answer. I think the two Kids Know movies, Love Hate and Burning Bridges, are amazing. I would like to shake Shelby Menzel’s hand if I were to meet him. He did a really great job on those and they’re refreshingly creative. They have a lot personality.
Top 3 movies that influenced your riding and challenged you to be a filmmaker?
1) Well for me, skateboarding came first so I would say Toy Machine’s “Welcome to Hell” had more influence on me than any video because it was the first one I ever saw. I couldn’t believe that’s what skateboarding actually looked like. From the clothes to the music and especially the tricks they could do. This may sound stupid to people that don’t understand it, but seeing that video was honestly life changing. I watched it with my friend Mike and we couldn’t talk the whole time and then when the videotape was over we just looked at each other and couldn’t believe what we just saw. So I went up and rewound the tape and we watched it again the whole way through. Then we walked about a half mile to the nearest curb and tried to ollie up it and down it until it was dark out, hahaha.
2) Mack Dawg’s Decade was the first snowboard video I ever bought and it was the same feeling as Welcome to Hell all over again. I couldn’t believe that people were that good at snowboarding. It was also the first snowboard video, besides Whiskey, I remember seeing and actually liking because it felt so close to skating. I had seen other videos but it seemed so far from what kind of snowboarding we were able to try. Other videos were like big Alaska type mountains with helicopters and it was cool but we were in rural Pennsylvania and there was no way we were ever going to be able to ride that stuff. I’m not saying anything bad about big mountain videos; Decade was just more attractive because of the style of riding.
3) All the Robot Food movies deserve to be in here. They are in my opinion the best videos ever made. Everything seems like it fits together perfectly. The music, editing, and pacing hold everything together so well. It was a great combination of riders and filmmakers that made it seem like what they were doing was actually fun. I think those videos reminded people that you could still try hard tricks but also have fun and not take things so seriously. Those videos brought back the memories of going out and riding with all of your friends. They made you remember the only reason you started snowboarding was hanging out with friends and having fun.
When you set out filming this, what was the one story you most wanted to tell people?
The original plan was to focus on all the riders in the first FLF movie Western Front, with the addition of Shaun Palmer and Terry Kidwell. I figured if I stuck with that crew I could get a pretty solid story to work with and it would yield a decent amount of episodes. Also, they are mostly around the same area so I thought it would be best for budget reasons and wouldn’t take that much time. Well, that didn’t go as planned because some people were impossible to find and some things didn’t work out. I wanted to showcase them because it seemed like those guys in CA, who were mostly Sims or Avalanche guys, were the ones that pushed freestyle to the forefront. So I figured they should be number one priority. Hopefully I’ll be able to round everyone up next time.
Interviewing Damian and all those guys you’ve probably seen some of the worst fashion trends in snowboarding, I know there was the episode where they busted out the green frog suit, but was there anything worse than that?
That stuff is funny, but at least they wore it first when it was in style. They did it when it was actually brand new and different. Look at Snowboarders in Exile. The clothes those guys are wearing are almost the same as most companies gear from 2008-2010, just with a different fit.
What are some hilarious stories that didn’t make it to film that you wish had? I know you mentioned the ones about Damian and Dana sewing themselves shut instead of getting stitches, but any others?
Damian had tons more stories that had to be shortened or left out. It’s not so much a story as it was getting to understand what it might be like to be married to a Penthouse Pet when you are in your early twenties, haha. That’s pretty unreal. Everyone had some great stories to share about how they were as a couple. One of the best things I heard was from someone who was a huge fan of Damian. He said that he would try and go to local contests to see Damian, but this person’s Dad never really wanted to take him. Then, once this person’s Dad found out that Damian was the husband of Brandy, Penthouse Pet, this person’s Dad was all of the sudden very interested in snowboarding. So, from then on when the kid asked his Dad if he could go see Damian at an event, they were in the car right away because there was always a good chance to see Damian’s traveling companion at the event, haha. Strangely enough, I heard that around that era a lot of Dads started showing sudden interest into going to any contest Damian was in. The biggest thing is that there are a lot of stories I want to tell. I just want to keep going. There’s so much more to do.
Interviewing Todd Richards you’ve probably heard a lot of awesome stories cause that dude has seriously been around since almost the beginning of free style snowboarding. He ever talk about the whole crapping his pants on camera at I think it was A basin back in 92?
Yeah, he was one of the best interviews for sure. He’s really well spoken and he obviously has a sense of humor. I didn’t ask him about the pants crapping thing but I do remember reading about that in a magazine way back. I saved a ton of stuff he talked about for future subjects. He had a funny story about the Colorado gangster days. He’s been a part of so much when you think about it. I think he has the longest career of anyone. He’s like snowboarding’s Cal Ripken, haha. Well, actually, Tom Burt or Shaun Palmer probably has the longest career. Someone could probably clarify that one.
I know you talked about wanting to film some episode about the Summit County Jib days, is there anyone in particular your thinking of talking to if that idea ever comes to fruition?
Tarquin Robbins and Stevie Alters are two that seem pretty mythical that I want to focus on. Basically, I want to make something that would cover everything from Tarquin to MFM. Maybe that’s too ambitious, we’ll see. I’ve been playing that one out in my head since I started this thing. Trent Bush from The Brand Base has been open to the idea and we’ve been discussing the subject back and forth for a while.
How many other people ask you when you’re going to do an episode or 5 on the whole Whiskey films? I know I can’t be the only one.
Whiskey was one of the first subjects I put on the original list of things I thought that the show should contain. That video had us smashing bottles on our heads way out in rural PA when we were 15 years old. I don’t think those guys had any idea of the damage they were doing to stupid kids all over the place, haha. We related to those videos because it seemed similar to what happened when you hung out with friends. The major differences being those guys were way better at skateboarding and snowboarding, and were smart enough to film it. Those videos are so awesome. My friends and I still quote them to this day. I’ll get to them I swear. I’ve been collecting interview footage about those videos since day one.
In the battle of the Jones’s who would you say was/is better Kevin or Jeremy? Also which one would you rather do episodes on first?
I’m not sure who is better, their styles are different so it’s hard to compare. Both are a pretty big deal to me.
I’ve already interviewed Jeremy and I’m really into doing something on the Forum 8 and that time period but I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible, we’ll see. I thought of Kevin Jones right away when I thought about making the show. He could do everything. He could film a ridiculous video part, win a contest, hit huge rails and do backcountry jumps. Then one season when he wasn’t in any of the mags, I wondered why? Then I read he simply quit at the top of his career. It was like” no, say it ain’t so”. So there’s obviously a really good story there. I heard from someone who had gone snowboarding with him not too long, they said he is doing well.
Do you ever feel that the new generation of snowboarders doesn’t know the history and roots of the sport like people in our generation?
That’s why I wanted to create the show. I thought maybe I could make a contribution to help out and show some fun older stuff to a younger generation. Snowboarding isn’t very old and it grew so fast, so it hasn’t had a lot of time to catch up on itself. Skating is a little bit older so it’s had sometime for a few retrospective docs to be made and been able to take time to reflect. So hopefully “Powder & Rails” can be a little window to some of the “good old days” for people to check out, myself included.
If people get one thing from Powder and Rails what do you hope it is?
I hope the show will give some credit where credit is due. Obviously there’s been a lot of important people that have came and went and they deserve to have their stories told to the next generation. The mission statement is pretty much told perfectly by Trevor Graves in the first episode of the show. Those guys from the first 15 years or so deserve a lot of credit and their stories shouldn’t get lost in the evolution of snowboarding. It’s gone from something that was publicly seen as a joke, then a threat, and now it’s in the Olympics and on TV all the time and everyone wants a piece of it. That evolution all went down in a very short amount of time, it’s easy to loose things when changes happen that quickly. Now, I mean my grandma always asks me to get Shaun White’s autograph for her, rewind to twelve years ago, snowboarding to her was something my friends and I did in the yard to try and hurt our selves. Hopefully we can give some identity to all the flying and flipping through the air that people see on TV all the time.
Any response to the show that’s amazed you or made you feel like wow I really am reaching a broad audience?
I think the best thing is getting feedback from people I always looked up to like Trevor Graves, Brad Kremer, and Jeff Brushie.
That’s a real trip, when your heroes say good job. That means more to me than I could put into words. Also, there have been some guys from England like Paul Endacott and Jimmy Webber that always post the show to these old school snowboarding Facebook groups that they run. Thanks guys. People like yourself that always post the show too, that’s pretty awesome. We always check around to see where it ends up. I’m glad people are spreading the word. Thank you to everyone that has.
Any plans to get into doing full on documentaries after the show wraps?
I would really like to be able to keep going and do as many aspects of snowboarding history as possible and then someday edit it down into a really good comprehensive piece. I always thought about that since day one.
Well in a nutshell thats what Trevar is doing for snowboarding. I’d like to thank him, Rory from VBS, David “Boots” Dinuzzo and everyone else that made this possible.