Of all the snowboard production companies that came to be in the 1990’s, Absinthe Films is one of the few that remains. No two-year projects or splitting films into webisodes. Every year, Absinthe produces a progressive piece of snowboarding art that pushes not only the boundaries of the sport but snowboarding’s culture as well.
Feeling the need for a fresh perspective, Justin Hostynek, who has been directing and editing Absinthe films over the past two decades, tapped Brock Nielsen, one of snowboarding’s leading lensmen, to not only film for this year’s offering, Eversince, but to take over the enormous task of assembling the final cut–making Nielsen the only person other than Hostynek to edit an Absinthe production in its 24-year history.
Speaking to Nielsen about his new hot seat in the Absinthe family one thing was crystal clear: if he continues to work with the storied film company, the franchise, and snowboarding as a whole, is in good hands.
How’d you get started with Absinthe?
Through Bozwreck (boards). I was working at Milosport and my manager L.J. was a filmer and he was filming Bozwreck and asked if I wanted to go out and shoot and that’s when I started filming. L.J. lived with Shane Charlebois from Absinthe, which is how I met Shane. After the Bozwreck stuff ended Shane asked me if I wanted to work for them. And so of course I said yes. I actually worked on and off for two seasons with Absinthe and this past winter was my third season with them.
And in between you were making the Givin movies as well?
I love working with Absinthe but the main reason I wanted to do Givin is because, with that project, I had more editing freedom. I could actually edit. I love filming and editing, I hate just filming and then giving the footage away because I have the image in my head of how I want it. That’s why, prior to this year, I always left Absinthe.
Then last fall Justin [Hostynek] emailed me and asked if I wanted to edit this year’s Absinthe film. We’d always talked about that. I’d just tell him straight up, ‘I’m going to go here to work because I can edit there,’ and he’s the shit, he gets it, he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s why I do what I do.’
How much snowboard media do you consume? Are you seeking out edits all the time, checking out the latest and the greatest?
In snowboarding? No I don’t. I pay attention to my friends and then I’m open-minded. People will show me stuff and I’ll watch it but …No, I don’t seek it out but I love John Stark’s Rendered Useless, The Impaler videos from Minnesota. I feel like snowboarding just flat lined for a while, it’s been flat lined, but I feel like now it’s starting to pick up.
Why do you think skating is killing it with digital media and snowboarding is struggling?
I don’t know, there’s things like the Berrics and Street League, there’s pros and cons to everything but they’ve exposed a great deal of skating and have been helping out the riders, actually getting them money because a lot of the people who do this can’t make a legitimate living doing it.
In skating, I think more people are appreciating the street, and snowboarding, people aren’t getting that. The Alaska stuff is sick because it’s showing big mountains but people don’t live in those big mountains, people live in the streets. Street League is all core stuff. The audience can see that and they see people outside of the stadium in the streets and they can understand, ‘Yes, that makes sense why they’re doing that kind of thing.’
If you had to recommend a couple skateboard films for snowboarders who aren’t really into skating what would you recommend?
For this era of skating right now, I would watch Cherry. Cherry is insane. There’s almost too many to name. There’s so many good ones, Slave skate videos, anything Greg Hunt makes, and anything William Strobeck makes.
Is this the first year an Absinthe film was shot all digitally?
Yes, this is the first all-digital Absinthe film. Holy shit, I didn’t even realize that—because last year they used film. It was all digi. That’s crazy, that’s so good.
Was that move away from 16mm to digital a logistical or financial decision?
Financial, It’s expensive and it’s a bummer because at the beginning of the season I was like, “What’s up with film? I want to (shoot) film!” And Justin says , “No budget,” because it’s a dollar a minute to shoot 16mm.
What’s up with Max Buri? He had an incredible part and out of nowhere. Where’s he from?
He’s from Switzerland, from Laax. This kid is like 21 maybe younger. His mom’s from New Jersey and his dad’s German and he speaks such good English but his mumbled, cross-language between them is so weird. Sometimes you don’t know if he’s speaking in German or if he’s speaking English, like, “What the $%&* did you say?” He’s so funny and he’s an insane snowboarder. His part in Eversince is his first legit part.
Which is insane with all the media today, that a rider can get to such a high level of riding and still be unknown.
Yes, that’s huge. Max killed it and I hope he becomes part of the crew because it’s going to be really exciting to see what he does in the future, he’s so young.
Same home mountain as Nicholas [Muller], do they know each other?
They probably know each other but Nicholas has been busy making his own movie.
Not too busy to put down a sick part in Eversince though.
Yes, it was an all-paid trip to India paid for by this billionaire Russian dude.
Billionaire “Mob” Russian dude that loves snowboarding and he loves Fredi [Kalbermatten’s] and Nicholas’ snowboarding. So he said, ‘You guys want to come to India with us? I’ll pay for everything!’ and Fredi and Nicholas ask, ‘Yes, can we film?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah!’ so they say ‘Okay we’ll go!’ That was really cool, insane F%&*#&% mountains. I want to go there so bad after seeing that footage.
One of the things I have come to love about Absinthe over the years is the subtleties in the editing. Do you think people today just have shorter attention spans or is there too much media out there now to really pay enough attention to catch the subtleties?
It’s weird, I never understood really paying attention to editing films until I had eaten mushrooms and watched a video. You hear the music and then you really hear where they’re placing it and how they’re placing it, you see it so clearly and ever since then that’s when I really changed the way I looked at music and the way of editing to music, complete 180 for sure or at least it just progressed in a different way for me.
What did you watch that day (you shroomed)?
I watched a snowboard movie, a skateboard movie and a surf movie. I was staying with my friend Brice and first I watched this surf video and I was like, “What the $%&*?” I was so blown away and then I watched the skate video and was like, “Oh my God,” and then I watched snowboard videos, I watched Volcom videos like Escramble. And I watched Absinthe.