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Time to Rewind: do brands need to release a new snowboard movie every year?

Should brands take more time over their team movies and release higher quality but more sporadic flicks or is it more important that we have new ones year-on-year? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and our favourite wins a Whitelines mug!

Words by Guy Chapman

As snowboarders, we are inclined to dwell on the positives of our chosen pastime, extolling its many virtues to the uninitiated and ill-informed. Fiercely protective of our minority interest, we feel duty bound to act as champions, recruitment agents and shred PR reps. Our media tends to reflect this, projecting an image of one almighty slap-pounding bro-down, where all is well in the white room. Whilst I largely agree with this (snowboarding is still a shit ton of fun after all) a bit of critical appraisal now and again has got to be healthy. In this spirit, let’s talk video.

Snowboarding, far more than our surf and skate brethren, is constrained to a natural seasonal cycle. Products are launched, videos released and magazines published as snow begins to fall in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s an exciting time, but after a hectic autumn nothing much happens until the next year – beyond the important business of us punters getting our shred on of course. This would all be well and good if the shelves were bursting with quality product and hour long banger videos, but all too often they’re not. Over in the skate world, where things are not as tied down by Mother Nature, companies are much more inclined to release product when it’s ready. Videos are shot over longer periods (as much as four years in the relatively recent case of Alien Workshop’s Mind Field), and in 2011 Emerica ‘celebrated’ a year since the launch of Stay Gold through events and marketing, including releasing Heath Kirchart’s hidden part, for free, on the internet – a full 12 months after the main movie. All this would seem ludicrous in the all new, every autumn world of snowboarding. Baker’s upcoming Bake and Destroy is being seen as something of a throwaway release, having been shot over a ‘mere’ nine months (so about as long as most snowboard flicks) and given away by Thrasher.

Brands must free themselves from the idea that a full video every season is essential

Having more to time to work on anything reaps obvious benefits, but a lack of a rigid seasonal schedule also means that skate companies are at liberty to release their videos throughout the year, meaning each gets its own moment in the sun. Compare this to snowboarding, where you could have fifteen features released within three weeks, and it tends to be the case that (local movies aside) only the Absinthe video, the Standard video and, back in the day, the Mack Dawg video ­– plus a couple of notable exceptions each year (RobotFood, Brain Farm) – would cut through and gain traction. If it is possible to be objective, most would agree that it tends to be the ‘better’ videos that get coverage, with their higher profile riders, well-known filmers and bigger budgets, but it’s up to us as individuals to take own spin on snowboarding – if releases were more staggered, magazines and websites would have a bit more time and space to weigh up the relative merits of the ‘minor’ videos.

The internet is already changing things of course, cutting out the publishing, distribution and retail middle men that previously existed between riders and snowboard fans. Witness the success of Helgasons.com, or Heikki Sorsa and Eero Ettala’s popular ‘Cooking With Gas’ webisodes. As the impact of downloading means that only the bigger brands can put the money behind a full length physical DVD that you can buy in a real life shop every year, I’m sure we will see more and more small companies using the internet to take a DIY approach, getting their riders to film each other by day and settle down to some late night Final Cut sessions by night.

My hope is that brands free themselves from the idea that a full video every season is essential and fully embrace the value of internet edits in keeping their riders on the snowboard radar – offsetting this drip feed of content with more sporadic, longer form, higher quality offerings that really showcase their team’s abilities and stand the test of time. In this strange way, the internet could indirectly drive a higher quality of big release, without killing off the video as we know it.

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