The year is 2012 and the economy has crashed, bringing the state of Washington back to the times of the wild west.
With the snowboarding industry non-existent, a group of outlaws and renegades still find their will to live through their passion for riding.
Meanwhile, so-called bounty filmmakers compete to capture footage of the Pacific Northwest’s best riders. This is the story behind the new snowboarding adventure film How The Northwest Was One.
The project is the first film produced by Wild Card, a newly-formed collaborative comprised of local filmmaker Jeremy Dub’s Funner Films production company, Sound Strait films and Sakedat Funk, of Seattle.
With stunning cinematography, gun battles, bar fights and plenty of humor (bounty filmers starting their snowmobiles that make horse sounds) the film successfully straddle two time periods almost believably.
In this, Dubs and Sound Straight filmmaker Kurt Jenson said they were able to capture the feeling of Northwest hardcore snowboarding culture — something many snowboard films fail to do — and also make the film more appealing to broader audiences.
“We were trying to bring some comedy back into the snowboarding culture,” Dubs said. “A lot of movies these days are really serious — they just show trick after trick after trick and then the movie is over. We wanted to tie everything together and it all worked out really cool, the story really works with snowboarding and every moment in the movie has some kind of meaning.”
Jenson added that the storyline of How The Northwest Was One was partially inspired by their previously competing film production companies that went into multiple projects unaware that they would form a collaborative team in the end.
“That was kind of the underlying inspiration for the whole concept, that and our company always wanted to do a spaghetti western movie. I saw the fact we were coming together to make a movie whereas before we were all competing,” he said. “We figured it would be a better film if we all just collaborated and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
Dubs agreed. “It’s kind of meant to show one thing and it may mean something else, the whole movie features bounty filmmakers because in the future, they need to get these shots so they can get the bounty and compile the footage of the best riders in the backcountry,” he said. “This leads to conflicts and battles, in the end our main filmer has it all on one tape and sells it to the bartender.
“It’s basically showing all the riders were competing against each other and in the end, they realize they were working together to make one movie so it kind of almost relates to the story of our production company where we were all comepting against each other and then when we all came together as one.
“That is how the Northwest is able to go above and beyond what was. We said, ‘Hey if we work together we can take this to the next level, we can take our strong points and really work on those.’”
The name Wild Card was inspired by the company’s attempt to feature local amateur riders along with professionals to give them a push forward in their career. Jenson said many of the amateurs are just as good as pro-riders but aren’t recognized because of lack of exposure.
Much of How The Northwest Was One was filmed in backcountry around Mount Baker and Steven’s but the film also includes clips from Lake Tahoe, Chile and the entire West Coast. Local riders featured include Nick Ennen, Patrick McCarthy, Andy Stern and Nate Lind.
Dubs has extensive experience capturing the Northwest hardcore scene through Funner Films. His Sentimental Values film, for example, profiles local legend Lucas DeBari who, at age 18, became the youngest person ever to win the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, beating out Olympic Gold medalist Seth Wescott.
Sentimental Values follows DeBari and other local pros such as Lind and Eric Jackson in what Dubs calls an “epic adventure” of year-round snowboarding and tracking the deepest snow in the world from Mt. Baker to Chile, Argentina and exotic locales such as Easter Island.
Dubs said he is partly inspired by his minor in sociology to document a centerpiece of Northwest culture and provide an inside look into what makes snowboarding a universally appealing sport. Dubs himself frequently travels between his home in Glacier and Santiago, Chile, where he met his wife nearly three years ago.
The film will be presented during a preview event at 9 p.m. January 7 at the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham.
How The Northwest Was One is also available at Whatcom County Yorky’s gas stations as well as Maple Fuels in Maple Falls, iTunes, Zumiez, Hidden Wave boardshop in Burlington and Sportsman Chalet in Bellingham. For a complete list of retailers, visit www.wildcardmovies.com