Snowboard History

Shr-Edit: The A to Z of Snowboard Films


The original pioneers: Mack Dawg Productions

A long, long time ago (well, 1988 to be exact) a chap called Mike McEntire set out in San Francisco to shoot a low budget skateboard movie on Super 8 film. Entitled Sick Boys, it starred the likes of Tommy Guerrero and Natas Kaupas. Mack Dawg Productions was born. The follow-up was another skateboard flick, the now legendary Hokus Pokus. One of the skaters, a Tahoe resident called Noah Salasnek, asked McEntire to come to his home mountain and shoot an additional snowboard shot for his part. The emerging scene he discovered there – not to mention the potential of this new sport – made a big impression on McEntire and he returned to make his first ever snowboard film, New Kids on the Twok. The rest, as they say, is history.

For a full 20 years, MDP worked with the world’s best riders to produce an annual, freestyle heavy release. In the early days, McEntire was simultaneously collaborating with the Hatchett brothers on TB’s 2 to 4 (in fact he claims to have come up with the name Standard Films “when I was using a Standard brand toilet to let the dawgs out, son”). Nothing if not prolific, he later employed second and third directors to push out additional shred flicks under the ‘People’ brand.

But it was the main Mack Dawg features that really made his name and helped to shape the whole direction of snowboarding by bringing a certain brand of fast paced, skate-influenced freestyle riding to living rooms all over the world. On the filming side, it was also MDP that spearheaded the march towards perfection, from laying down a marker in Stomping Grounds (1996) that only clean landed tricks would make the film, to adopting high definition digital cameras and smooth dolly-cam shots in Picture This (2007). It was also MDP that pioneered the use of snowmobiles to access the backcountry and shuttle riders up jumps. Formulaic they may have been (so much so that David Benedek and Travis Parker formed Robot Food to rebel against the airbrushed perfection) but it was a formula that kids lapped up, making McEntire, his riders and his sponsors a lot of money.

Such is MDP’s inevitable influence that you can almost date a rider by their favourite Mack Dawg film. Shakedown? You’ve probably been riding since 2003. Follow Me Around? 2006. Simple Pleasures? That would be me, watching it on loop in 1997. No one film is actually the ‘best’, they each tell the tale of the sport at that time and claim fans depending when you jumped aboard.

In 2008, Double Decade marked MDP’s 20th anniversary and their last proper film. Was McEntire finally over it? Or did he foresee the death of the DVD market and get our while the going was good? Judging by his right hand man Brad Kremer’s move to Burton to produce their online video, my money is on the latter.

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