By Matteo Rossato
After an eight year silence, Burton comes back with a team video. Jake Burton wanted it so bad and asked Zack Nigro to “make it short and make it loud”.
Sure One World is quite loud, with a very high-end production, music selection, spots and riders list, not sure about being short. But whatever, it’s another masterpiece that you expect from the company that put snowboarding on the map. We sat down with Alex Adrian, co-director of the movie, to talk about how they made it happen in tricky times like these.
Hi Alex, first of all, why the name One World?
Haha, good question. The name and the whole idea for this film came from Zach Nigro. While pitching the film, he would tell a story from a time he was riding in Japan: it was late at night, the resort was mostly empty and the snow was great. The only other person riding the chair he was on was a Japanese guy, and after a few laps they started riding the chair together. They didn’t speak each others languages, but they were both super excited to share the experience of a perfect night of riding powder together. Pretty much everyone has stories of snowboarding bringing you together with like minded people, and sharing this “one world’ of snowboarding together. It was a working name for a long time, but we got to a point where we just decided it was the right fit for the film we were making.
We know you have a decade under your belt in Burton, could you briefly introduce your story, roles and how you ended up co-directing One World?
I grew up skating, snowboarding, and surfing and those things have always been at the center of my world. I studied economics in college, but it just never felt right. When I graduated I had the choice to take a job in investment banking or move to New Zealand with some friends to surf. It was an easy decision that led to a few years on the road surfing and snowboarding. Eventually through some friends I started doing some freelance work at Burton and that ended up turning into a full-time job in marketing.
Through a few different roles within marketing I kept focusing more and more on creative and videos at Burton and I ended up as our Senior Media Creative. I have always been into shooting and editing videos and have a good vision for storytelling through it. This job at Burton has given me the chance to work on a lot of cool projects, from TV shows and commercials, to web series, live broadcasts, and now a full-length snowboard film.
In terms of One World, during the summer of 2019, Zach Nigro, who is a good friend and co-worker, approached me about a plan he had been working on with Lance Violette on for a new Burton film. He asked if I would like to direct it and I said absolutely. It was a dream project and I’m really honored he asked me and that I got the chance to do it.
What do you think Jake’s (Burton) words stood for when talking to Zach about working on a new movie? “Make it short and make it loud”?
Jake loved to have a good time. He loved snowboarding and loved going to snowboard movie premieres. The duration of a film can have a big impact on how good of a time you have at a premiere, haha. Basically, you want the film to be long enough to feel like there is some substance there, but not so long that it drags. If at the end, people say they wish it was longer, that’s a win, and that’s what Jake wanted us to do.
Did you feel the pressure since it was the first new Burton team movie after a while?
Oh for sure. We hadn’t made a movie in eight years, I think, and with Burton as the biggest brand in snowboarding expectations are obviously going to be really high. I knew our team riders are some of the best in the world, and our film crew some of the best in the world, so if we couldn’t make a great film the blame would fall on me and Lance (co-director).
Can we say One World could be also a tribute to Jake from his ambassadors?
Yeah, you could say that. I think more than that, One World is a celebration of snowboarding and the good times that come along with that. Jake gave us snowboarding, and how better to honor the man than to showcase snowboarding in the best light we can.
What’s the ultimate goal of the movie? Beside the one mentioned above.
The goal was just to make a film that would inspire people and make them want to snowboard. Hopefully it did that.
How did the lockdown change your plans?
When Covid hit we were in full swing with our production. We had crews all over, and a lot of trips planned. I was supposed to fly to Austria the day they went into lockdown, and I remember asking Hasi (Burton Europe TM) if I should still come, and he was like: fuck no! It was hard to accept, but it was the right choice. Pretty much everything shut down, our last crew out was in Alaska until the second half of March and they ended up coming home early too. It was surreal, but everyone around the world was in the same situation.
On top of just missing out on the best months for filming, Covid made our post production/edit process way harder. I like to be pretty hands on while working with an editor, sitting with them and watching and talking through things in real time. Covid obviously made this really tricky. Our edit team, Justin Taylor and Dylan Parr, were out in Montana and I was in Vermont, and was only able to head out to there one time for a few days. We all had to adjust our normal routines and spent a lot of time screen sharing on Zoom to make it work.
“The goal was just to make a film that would inspire people and make them want to snowboard. Hopefully it did that.”
Who was in the production team along with you and Zach?
We were able to put together an incredible team for the film. Zach Nigro and Ian Warda from Burton were the executive producers, Homestead Creative (Aaron Blatt and Ryan Runke) along with Vanessa Violette produced, I co-directed with Lance Violette, and Justin Taylor edited. Team managers were Pat Dodge, Martin Haslwanter, Karen Yankowski Dunavin, and Alex Andrews. Our film crew consisted of Justin Eeles, Aaron Leyland, Malachi Gerard, Sean Aaron, Gabe Langlois, Joe Carlino, Rafe Robinson and myself.
Pick three highlights from the trips: three unusual ones/sketchy/crazy situations…
St. John’s: Ethan, Neils, Maria, and Max were in St. John’s Newfoundland with Malachi, Blotto, Joe, and Alex Andrews for a street trip when a huge storm rolled in and basically shut the city down. To the point where food and gas were being rationed, and they had to go around and dig people out of their houses. I was in Hawaii at the time and every day would get the craziest calls and texts about what was going on there. It was a trip to hear about 10 ft. snow banks while I was surfing in trunks, couldn’t help but feel kind of guilty, haha.
Niels Spots: I flew into Minnesota to join Ethan, Niels, Maria, and Luke (along with Joe Carlino and Blotto). I got in late one night and met the crew at dinner. After dinner they told me we were close to a spot Niels wanted to hit the next morning and we wanted to go park a car in landing of the feature so no one else would be parked there when we came back in the morning (landing was a parking lot). We got to spot, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what Niels could possibly snowboard on there. Was it a drop off the building? Or some kind of wall ride? I could see anything. When I asked and he pointed to a little creeper ledge next to all these rocks my mind literally exploded. Hard to translate how sketchy and just weird that spot was, but that’s Niels and that’s what makes him so great. He got it in a few tries the next morning.
Night Pipe: A lot went wrong in the lead up to this, we were trying to do this shoot with way less budget than we needed and had one night to pull it off. We had power issues, pipe cutting issues, and were shooting in a blizzard. Far from ideal, and a lot of stress along the way, but turned out great.
Pick up three riders that left you speechless during the filming process of One World. Tell us also what left you speechless of each of them.
It’s pretty hard to pick just three, honestly everyone in the movie ripped, haha.
Maria Thomsen: the Minnesota trip was my first time shooting with her and I just couldn’t believe her drive and skill. She’s such a boss, and her footage speaks for itself.
Luke Winkleman: I’ve known Luke since he was a little kid, and have known for a long time that he’s a crazy good snowboarder, but seeing him in the streets was something else. The Minnesota trip was his first ever street trip and he just brought that slope style consistency to street spots. Very cool to see.
Anna Gasser: Anna is a perfectionist, always wanting to see her shots right away and is her own harshest critic. Getting to spend a few days in the backcountry with her and watching her learn the ropes out there was really cool. She had some good shots and I know she wanted more. I predict in a few years she will be a force in backcountry riding.
Last and hardest question: Jake’s passing left a pretty unbridgeable void not only in his company, but in the whole snowboarding world. How will his brainchild honor Jake’s memory from now on?
I think the best thing we can do to honor Jake is to make sure that snowboarding is as welcoming and open to everyone as possible and that we keep sharing this One World that we’ve got. After Donna watched it for the first time, she said Jake would have loved it, so that meant the world to all of us who worked on this project.
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