Absinthe Films | POP

We get the skinny on the movie that changed it all

Absinthe Films. They weren’t the first, but arguably they were the best. Justin Hostynek and Patrick Armbruster ripped off their shirts and fly-kicked the industry right in the dick with Pop. When it was released way back in 2004, it changed the face of snowboarding. The phrase ‘ahead of its time’ is one that is bandied around more than it should be in relation to snowboard media, but within the landscape of the early 2000’s, Pop was truly lightyears ahead of the competition.

“No one had any idea that session would go on to be one of the most talked about and revered in snowboard history”

Did you have any idea at the time what impact Pop would have on the industry and how it would shape a generation of riders?

Justin Hostynek: It did feel like we had accomplished something significant at the time but the credit is due to the riders’ commitment levels as much as anything else.

The opener deserves to be hung in a digital art gallery. Droll golf commentary juxtaposed with a young Travis Rice overshooting Chad’s Gap and creating possibly the most notable bomb hole of the decade. Think about that for just a moment, Chad’s Gap had been previously dismissed as unhittable on a snowboard- you simply couldn’t get the speed to clear it. This was a feat on par with Roger Bannister smashing the glass ceiling of the hitherto unimaginable four-minute mile.

Travis BOOSTING | PC: Scott Sullivan

The most iconic gap in snowsports had been left to the skiers, until two young guns decided to take a whack at it. When Romain de Marchi and Travis Rice rocked up to Utah with their sights set on clearing the gargantuan, no one had any idea that session would go on to be one of the most talked about and revered in snowboard history.

“For me it was one of the raddest sessions with Travis, pushing our limit and having fun”

JH: Filming Romain and Travis on Chads Gap was the most memorable session for sure. It was a massive build that took five days but it was well worth it. This was before drones were a thing so we hired a helicopter to shoot out of, for the aerial angles but the bird was also helpful in shuttling Romain and Travis back up to the top so they could focus all of their energy on hitting the jump without tiring themselves out hiking all the way back up each time. I love the moment in the end credits of Travis and Romain celebrating with beers and a hoola-hoop that we found lying around when we got back to the heli pad.

Romain De Marchi: We were filming in Utah most of the winter and we were talking about this gap with Shane Charlebois and Justin and Travis and the opportunity came, and we took it. I didn’t realise that would have been so talked about at the time. For me it was one of the raddest sessions with Travis, pushing our limit and having fun.

“Pop has stood the test of time and is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best snowboard movies of all-time”

The whole production was an avalanche of talent, featuring a cast of rising stars that have gone on to become some of the greatest to ever do it, and some of the best filmers in the game. Beautifully shot on 16mm, and set to a heavy soundtrack, Pop has stood the test of time and is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best snowboard movies of all-time. Reaching the semi-final and just missing out on the top spot in our Snowboard Movie World Cup, Pop went toe to toe with far more recent creations and crushed all competitors.

JH: Our main objectives were to have fun snowboarding and filming with the riders that were committed to pushing their limits. Shane Charlebois joined Absinthe as a filmer and idea man for the first time that year and the commitment level of the riders, along with the group dynamics that winter converged to result in a remarkable leap forward for the progression of snowboarding.

The Game Changer.

JH: I had a great time shooting the podium scene with Romain and the Go-Go dancers. I wanted to do something special for Romain to help emphasize his snowboarding achievements that winter. At the time I was very close with Romain and it came naturally to devise a scene to tie in with his riding like we had done a couple years earlier for his Paranoid Android part in Vivid. He was never much of a contest rider so I wanted to put him on a podium of our own making and of course he needed to be flanked by ladies. RDM was in his element during that shoot as much as he ever was.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Romain de Marchi

Filming a full length snowboard movie can be a daunting task, trying to organise crews, equipment, riders, and then just praying that the weather holds out, but Absinthe have managed to pull it off year after year.

JH: We make many loose plans throughout the year but ultimately the conditions are the biggest factor in determining which plans we follow through on. Switzerland and Austria did pretty well that winter but the bulk of the movie was shot in Utah and Alaska since the conditions were good for long periods of time and we were able to mobilize multiple crews to set up there for solid stretches.

“Watching it for the first time is an almost religious experience, enjoy”

We could sit and wax poetic about how incredible Pop is all day long, but there’s no substitute for actually watching it.  If you’ve already seen it, then settle in and enjoy it again, but if you’re about to ‘pop’ your cherry, then we’re very envious. Keep your eyes peeled for the iconic double cork, Gigi’s incredible tomahawk, and Nicolas Müller being Nicolas Müller. Watching Pop for the first time is an almost religious experience, enjoy.

Starring: Axel Pauporte, David Melancon, Gigi Ruf, Jonaven Moore, Matt Beardmore, Nicolas Droz, Nicolas Muller, Romain de Marchi, Stefan Gimpl, Steve Gruber, Travis Rice, Trevor Andrew, Wolle Nyvelt, Yannick Amevet.

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