Im sitting on the Park City Party Bus. Bode Merrill is “pole dancing” in the middle of the bus while Cale Zima shouts at the top of his lungs to what evers blaring on the system. Chris Grenier is slumped in the corner next to me and my obviously rattled girlfriend is squeezed between us. There are shop kids, filmers, company owners, and a healthy dose of bros in the mix. Beer cans, coolers, and, bottles of booze are flowing from person to person inside. Its 10:45 pm Ive been up since 2:30 am and have to be back up again tomorrow at 2:30 am less than four hours away. I feel like that kid in Almost Famous, except old.
Eight hours earlier…. I’m leaving work at 3 pm. I had hoped to leave at noon. I have just received emails with a contact name on the Absinthe tour that could get me to Justin Hostynek for an interview. I’m stressed because I’m barely prepared for an interview and now I’m running late. There’s a wreck on I-15 and my 20 minute drive home takes an hour. Shit.
Six hours earlier, Im showered, my girl is home, and were ready to head to PC. I have a crumpled piece of paper in my pocket with a few feeble questions scribbled on them. Were both starving and do that “I dunno what do you want” “I dunno I dont wanna choose , you pick” routine but decide on dinner in PC. We get to PC and its cold and rainy, Im stoked. We get Pizza, Salad and two beers. Its $45 and I tossed the receipt in the trash without thinking. Shit.
Three hours earlier, people are already lining up outside The Egyptian so we get inline. The doors open and we go in. As we go I overhear the ticket guy telling someone they just bought the last tickets for the evening. The ticket guy is my contact but I dont know that. We find a seat and meet Jeff,a Yobeat kid, and his friends. He says hes heard of me but Im not sure if hes telling the truth or being nice. My girl senses me getting a big head and starts to rag on me in front of the Yobeat kids. They laugh but I win by telling them she pays the bills while I get my shred on all season. Its half true…ok ok three quarters.
Two hours earlier, Im wondering if I should try to hook up with Cale, who said hed help me meet my contact, or wait until after the showing. The product toss begins and I decide to wait. The lights go down and the movie starts. Its amazing of course, heres my review.
One hour earlier, the film has ended and theres some more give aways including a special Absinthe/Yes collaboration snowboard. Everyone starts to leave and I try to get Cales attention but fail. Im not too worried as there is an autograph signing where I know Ill be able to get everything worked out. As we walk out Justin is just to the left of me working on some media equipment. I take the chance and walk over and introduce myself. Hes very soft spoken but seems genuinely interested in answering some questions after the signing.
Less than an hour before, Im hanging out in the lobby taking some pictures of the guys and meeting some people Ive talked to via the interweb. Eventually the lobby empties and its just me, my girl, Cale, Cales parents, Nicolas Muller, Justin, and a few guys who work at the theater. Theres a loud noise outside and a few industry people I recognize are jumping in and out of the front door. I look outside and see the PC PartyBus. Everyone starts to leave and Justin approaches me and says.. “Hop on the bus.” I look at my girl and she looks at me. It’s 10:45 and I have to be at work in less than four hours. I take a breath… Fuck it. We get on.
The party bus rides around PC for a little while. Its pandemonium on board. The reason Im here, Justin Hostynek, isnt participating in the festivities. He stands on the steps of the bus looking out the door into the rainy evening. This is stop 1 of 50 I guess there will be plenty of time to party for him down the road. Eventually the bus comes to a stop. I figure PC is small enough that it wont be a big deal to get back to the car when we decide to leave. My girl points out it will be very easy because the PartyBus has ended its travels across the street from the Egyptian Hotel. Weve gone nowhere. Justin says were going into a bar inside and heads onward. Someone I need to talk to for other reasons pops out of the bus and I get sidetracked. I finish talking turn around and Hostynek is gone. Damn.
We head into the building that houses the bar. My girl starts to get jittery because its so late and things are still somewhat up in the air. I try to calm her down and we walk into the bar. Justin is nowhere to be seen but I see my Absinthe contact whom I finally met on the bus. Hes Justins assistant on the tour and looks as out of place as we do. I head towards the contact and then see Justin. I decide to just ask him if hed like to exchange emails instead but when I do hes adamant that we do the interview. We find a place on the patio and my girl heads to the bar. I take out my recorder and start….
I tell him that I had recently purchased Tribal on VHS from a local thrift store. It completed my Hostynek/Armbruster collection. I had noticed that many of Nowheres riders were in that movie also. Freddie, JP, Wolle, Ggi, Nicolas, and Romain are all there. I ask him how hard is it to have a ten year relationship with these guys yet ultimately have to keep it in a business perspective and he replies….
“It is THE hardest thing to do for sure, because we have to keep it progressive and there is definitely a period of time that these guys can be progressive, and you know we communicate with them throughout the time that they are progressive that you know this is your time, youre shining now and we want to keep that going as long as possible but you know its not going to last forever…”
This is a set up question. I want to ask about the Burton purge and eventual set up of Yes. Its interesting to me because Absinthe has business relations with both sides of that fence but I dont want to come off as if Im trying to stir up drama so soon into the interview. Instead I steer it in a different direction.
I ask him if he feels any validation when someone like Wolle for example is able to receive little to no coverage stateside other than Absinthes Films yet still hes able to get into the top ten riders of the year list. In fact Absinthe features the talents of three perennial top ten in Gigi, Nicolas, and Wolle. Justin replies…
“Well with the case of Wolle you could just tell. Like just how he skateboards and how he snowboards, like in the first year, in Tribal he didnt have a long section but it was like this guy has crazy potential. Hes got really good style and for us its what we look for is really good style. Its not about how many tricks you can do or how times you can rotate its really about style”
From here pre-planned questions go out the window and the interview gets more organic. The first thing I think of as Justins talking about style is Bode whos the perfect blend of style and progression. I ask him what does he think when he gets someone like Bode who, well who basically falls into his lap and blows up. Justin replies..
“Its amazing. Sometimes that just happens but its also just part of doing what we do for so long. Its like those are the kind of people that are going to be attracted to what we do because they see our commitment level and thats the way they want to be represented because they see how into it we are. Its not just slapping a part together. Its really thought out and we go through great pains to make sure its as good as it can be.”
As Justin talked about the effort of constructing a part I began to think of how Absinthes films really differ from every one elses. Instead of hammer after hammer either in the backcountry or urban Absinthes films always seem to have an ebb and flow to them. Not meaning boring segments mixed with exciting one but just a flow where theres a series of build ups to epic montages of riders mixed with single parts. I asked Justin about his thoughts on the subject. Was it a conscious effort on his and Patricks part and he interjected…
“It just happens, a movie like this just makes itself. If you try to plan it out too much youre going to spend so much time trying to swim upstream. You just let things come together and identify when something magical is happening and help it happen. Make sure that it happens that its covered properly and thats its documented properly”
I say that as an editor it has to be a nightmare …
“You know it is, in May you really have no idea what you have but you just submerge yourself in it for a month or more and things start to come out. Like we knew we had the Nicolas and Jake segment when I filmed it so we knew we had that at the end of March. So you have these new situations. I knew Brusty went to Russia with Terje, JP, and Freddie but I had no idea what they got. I saw a tiny fraction of what they shot and I was like “too bad Russia didnt work out” but then when we sifted through all the edits that we had from there there was alot of really cool stuff and it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the movie. So its easy to like just hit sort of a point of despair in May when we dont know what we have. We have all this footage we have to sift through and now with digi it makes it WAY harder. With 16 you have a finite amount of footage cause when youre rolling 16 its expensive so people roll less of it. But when people are pushing a play button on a digi camera its just ridiculous how much media you end up with and have to sift through. So thats something that I really had to struggle with this year and that was hard but we had the riders come out and we had Shane come out and hes an integral part in breaking it all down and saying “this is good” ” this is the good stuff”. Its good to have him there as someone to bounce ideas off and to have another opinion of like whats standing out to you.”
I see Justins kind of getting into talking about the process now so I ask him about Jake ( Blauvelt) who had a real standout part in Nowhere. I asked him about Jakes seemingly effortless integration into the crew and how that helped progress the film. I was somewhat surprised at Justins answer…
‘Weve been wanting to work with Jake for the last three years and hes expressed that interest and weve expressed that interest but Forum really had him locked in with their film and he really didnt have the freedom to do what he wanted to do and I think thats was a big part of why he decided to move on. So he could do what he wanted to with his riding . So he could go ride with Gigi , Nicolas, and Wolle. He told me at the beginning of the year thats what he really wanted to do was ride with those guys so I made sure that happened. Knowing his riding style was going to mesh perfect with their riding style because he looks up to those guys and the camaraderie that they have.”
I comment that this freedom that Absinthe gives the riders is what ultimately helps define and sculpt their movies and Justin continues…
“You give the riders the freedom and you give the movie freedom. Its almost like the movie is a being of itself. You just give it the freedom to grow and become what its going to become. The ingredients are the riders and the filmers and with some luck you have good conditions and you just let the film become. You cant script it. I mean like the humor that comes out like Cales part this year or in Mikeys part in Optimistic or MFM in Optimistic you cant script it. You just document what these guys are doing and sometimes they do really funny shit and then youve documented it…”
At this point my interview recording is over powered by someone yelling Happy Birthday. I look over and see Cale some others and my girl. Shes screaming that its her 21st birthday. Shes actually 32 but Cale tells her not to say that or no one would buy her drinks. I remember its a young guys sport… Im 38… damn. I remember talking about some of the insane lines that Nicolas, Gigi, and Jeremy do and does he ever wonder how they are going to get down but replies are muffled by Cale and everyone else. Justin says that they take the safety seriously and that the guys are professionals. He says the one time they took extra measures was when filming Chads gap for Pop. Adding lift pole padding to tree trunks and other measures.
We wind down the interview speaking about POW and how Absinthes Sphere of Influence tour is carbon neutral. Justin elaborates…..
“Were working with Native Energy. Its a company that hires Native Americans to build wind power turbines. We take proceeds from our ticket sales, one dollar from every ticket sold on the tour, no sorry thats POW. We give alot of money to alot of people (laughs). We give 1 dollar from every ticket to POW, and 1 dollar from every ticket to a local non profit to keep something local more rootsy. Then we work with Native Energy to figure out how much carbon was used on the tour and we give them a certain amount of money to build these wind turbines which helps offset the carbon footprint that we make. If everyone were just to do SOMETHING wed be in a whole different place.”
And with that we ended the interview. It was almost midnight as me and my girl headed to the car for the drive home to SLC. We didnt attend the SLC premiere the next night because it really was her birthday.
I went to work with 90 minutes of sleep and came home the next day feeling much like what Justin must feel like in May. With a jumble of hazy memories and recordings I sat down and this is what I came up with. It was there the whole time I just had to let it flow out.