The art of extreme snowboarding has long been an overlooked sport as it takes place in remote locations out of view of the general public. The film “The Art of FLIGHT”, coproduced by Red Bull Media House, and Brain Farm Digital Cinema aims to change this by bringing these unbelievable images to fan’s homes. Led by media visionary and the number one snowboarder in the world, Travis Rice, and Director Curt Morgan, this goal materialized in a film unlike any other in the realm of action sports. With millions of views already with the “Art of FLIGHT” trailers on YouTube, seemingly their cinematic innovations have paid off.
The film captures the athletes tearing down terrifying cliffs at unbelievable angles, all filmed with the Cineflex HD. This is a $500,000 piece of equipment attached to the bottom of the helicopter, which Morgan operates with a joystick. The athletes also attached cameras to themselves for point of view shots that give a very unique look into some of their most daring tricks.
“The Art of FLIGHT” crew has been touring around the country for the past month screening their movie in various cities with some of the athletes as well as the producers and director. The San Francisco screening of “The Art of FLIGHT” was on November 3, at the Palace of Fine Arts. As a Red Bull employee I had a chance to sit down with Red Bull Athletes, Travis Rice and John Jackson to discuss the life of a professional snowboarder, and their participation in the film.
Foghorn: It seems like you guys have your hands in just about everything from snowboarding, to production, and even a clothing line. How do you balance it all?
Travis Rice: You don’t, you just try to keep the train on the tracks as best as you can really.
F: Aside from snowboarding what is your second favorite part of the business?
TR: The open road, the wind in your hair, just a couple of guys… no I mean really though I think one of the coolest aspects of what we get to do is travel and see all of the cool places and things. Aside from that, I know that he (John Jackson) is a die-hard fisherman. He takes it real serious, it is an art. I like to do that, I like to surf, I like many things.
F: Aside from snowboarding what other board sports do you participate in? Have you found that you are actually bad at any?
TR: Well I mean I can skate, but relatively speaking I am really bad. I mean that is a very difficult sport.
John Jackson: As far as awkwardness goes, have you ever been in one of those wave pools? It is just kind of weird and slippery and you think you are going to be good at it but then you’re not.
F: How did you put together your crew for “The Art of FLIGHT”?
TR: You know it was half grandfathered in and half just meant to be. There definitely wasn’t a selection process. I like to think of it as the guys that are in the film chose themselves in the sense of how they ride, and how they approach the mountain. We had a lot of very awesome and very diverse people in the crew, and I think that is a testament to the film itself.
F: How did you find some of the very remote locations that you dropped in on?
TR: Man, you know how some people have porn addictions? They go on late at night creeping out in the corners just like clicking around? Well we do a lot of Google Earthing, Google Earth addicts. It comes in so many different ways, hear say, a lot of times its hearing little wafts of information about certain areas. It is always different how we find out about places, and sometimes how we don’t find out about it and we go and find out ourselves. I think that has always been the most interesting.
F: How do you come up with these crazy tricks? Do you work your way up or do you just try the craziest things you can think of?
TR: It is progression. I mean look how far the hamburger has come! You know they started with a bun and a burger right? They threw a little cheese on it then they threw on some pickles, then they threw some yard work on it. Then they started throwing like bacon and blue cheese and then they started switching meats! I mean essentially its kind of the same way with snowboarding tricks.
F: How many boards did you break while filming “The Art of FLIGHT”?
TR: I probably broke about 10 boards.
TR: The majority of them should have absolutely broken, when boards are built perfect, they are built where when they come into sudden impact they break before you break.
F: How did you become a Red Bull Athlete, and what does that mean for you?
TR: Dude its like being part of a really select secret society that is the antithesis of secret. Nah, it’s an amazing group of riders, really talented people from around the world that are involved on the ambassadorship side of Red Bull. Working with a company as open-minded and as willing to promote and stand behind grass-roots projects is great. I mean we are doing a contest in British Columbia next winter; it’s going to be like no other snowboarding contest before. It’s called the Red Bull Supernatural.
F: Can you tell me a little about the Red Bull Supernatural?
TR: Just to give you a little idea of what Red Bull is about, we took this idea and said that we wanted to progress what is going on in snowboarding competitions, because if you like park riding and everything that is going on within the Olympic side and the X-games side you are only telling one half of the story. So we want to essentially create an event that showcases freestyle riding in kind of an all-natural environment. So we took British Columbia’s 12, most badass lumberjacks, strapping lads they are, and we went in and did five months of construction over the summer and fall. We built crazy features out of trees and essentially built the best run in the world to snowboard down…and next February, 20 of the worlds best will come and battle it out.
JJ: You should see pictures of this thing, it is like giant freaking log take offs in the middle of what, a 40-degree slope?
TR: Yeah, it is straight science fiction.
F: What would you say your ideal run is?
TR: Oh I just told you all about it! That is the ideal run even though we have not seen snow on it yet. The ideal run is just featured out the whazoo!
F: What would you say your scariest moment was while filming “The Art of FLIGHT”?
TR: Well maybe not for you (John Jackson), but one of my scariest moments in the film was watching John back flip the snowmobile. I mean he wasn’t really sweating it but dude we were like ‘God John I don’t know!’
JJ: These guys were so scared, the Photographer Danny Zapalac, I thought he was going to cry. He was like, ‘Johnny don’t ever do that again, please that hurt!’
F: I saw your “Biggest Fan” Bonus clip on the DVD where a fan asked you to kiss him on the cheek, what would you say your craziest fan story is?
TR: People definitely fan out, some people are awesome and some are a little weird. The majority are just awesome.
JJ: I have one for him (Travis Rice). I think it was in Seattle and this girl was looking for him and she was just relentless it was gnarly. She was getting pissed at me saying, ‘Tell me where Travis is! Call him and go get him now!’
TR: Well we go to Japan a lot, and there are definitely a lot of fanatic people over there. They take it to another level as far as fandom goes. I have been going over there for maybe four or five years and I had one girl give me a little photo album and I think of the 10 trips I have been there, there was a photo of me and her at like a signing or something from like eight of those trips. So yeah that was a little weird.
F: What advice would you give to aspiring professional snowboarders?
TR: Like anything in life if you want to go for it and be the best in your field then you have to work harder than the rest.
F: Today is national cliché day, what is your favorite cliché that you say when you are in the helicopter about to drop in for a run?
JJ: “It is not the destination, it is the adventure on the way.” It seems cliché to that, but that is just the way it is!
TR: Slam-dunk right there Johnny!