We started planning our first filming trip of the 2012 season way back in the autumn; before our first film ‘Prequel‘ was even released. A street spot mission to Helsinki in January, a full month of what we thought would be guaranteed snow, handrails, ledges and anything else a city could throw at you. As Christmas and New Year’s passed the daily checking of the webcams and weather reports increased from once a day to a anxious two or three times a day only to reveal unusually warm days with the odd bit of drizzle.
After a few days of thinking the snow was only around the corner and that we’ll just set off a bit later than planned we realized it was far from coming. So in comes the back up plan – Austria. Austria so far to date this season has had more than it’s fair share of snow to say the least, which was also reinforced by the copious amounts of cheesy Facebook status’s happily reminding everyone how much snow they currently have and the Mayrhofen Go Pro edits going around.
So we packed the car somehow with a generator, 3 spot lights, 40 foot of power cables, camera bag, tripods, 9 snowboards, 2 Banshee Bungees, 5 lots of boots and bindings, 8 bags of clothing and a load of other crap that probably wasn’t even needed. Needless to say the journey out wasn’t that comfortable unless you where the driver… The crew consisted of Ollie Dutton, Andy Nudds, Will Smith, John Weatherley and my self.
After over a day of driving, broken up by breaks to relieve people’s cramps from sitting underneath suitcases, and a run in with the Police (literally he reversed into the car with out looking in his mirrors) we arrived in Mayrhofen. Not the biggest street spot destination admittedly but a good place to be based. While looking for a place to stay someone suggested to us a place at the top of town. An old Austrian guy called Ludwig who dribbled owned the place and after seeing the spinal bones and carcasses left outside the building by the back door and the interior which looked like something out of a horror film we decided to stick with the original plan of staying at the Gasthof Zillertal. Ludwig definitely does not know how to run a Karaoke night like the Gasthof thats for sure.
The next day we started as we meant to carry on and after making a list of known spots we had a quick scope around town and found a new handrail that hadn’t been hit before. This was a spot Andy had found on a previous trip and somehow managed to remember where it was. So we set up, dug out the stairs, built a kicker and cleared the run in. Before we knew it we had 5 or 6 usable shots and a good selection of slams too. The first street session of the year was out the way with a vicious steep kinked rail; so much for warming up.
The next few days we ventured further down the valley to find various spots off the beaten track that we had never seen before and by the looks of it had not even been hit before. The shot’s kept coming and people kept on stepping up taking slams but getting back up for another go.
As well as finding new spots we headed to some well-known ones, which for some reason where always the ones that needed the most digging. The amount of snow Austria had got in January left the rails, run ins and run outs buried under feet of snow. We spent a whole day digging just one spot out just to return the next day to hit it. Luckily the work paid off and over 20 tricks went down on a day where the lowest temperature seen on the car thermometer was -20.5. Not the most comfortable filming conditions that left me with mild frost bite on the face, which looked like a black eye for a week after.
With in just over 2 weeks filming we only had 2 run ins with the Austrian Police. The first came just about as Andy was about to get a shot of a transfer, he had taken a few brutal falls but kept trying, then the Police car turned up. “You can snowboard outside of the fenced area, but not inside, if you want to carry on you can pay me €50 each or get out…” Not the first thing you would expect the Police to say, but after having one already drive into the car and use his status as a get out clause what could you expect? Needless to say none of us had the €50 each, we could barely afford to be there in the first place with out having to pay per shot. We packed up and returned a few days later and got the shot. The second incident was at what we called “Satan’s School”. An eerie looking place which was pitch black, all the rails where painted red and a wind that howled through the shutters on the side of buildings. A good few hours into the session the Police car rolled up at 3:30am. They seemed a little confused as to why we where snowboarding at 3:30am in a school with a generator and lights, not a ski resort 40 minutes away in the daytime. Luckily they just asked us to pack up and go home.
So after beginning to think that the first street trip of the year would be a write off with no snow in Helsinki, Austria turned out to be just as good with results better than what we thought it would be; and now there is snow in Helsinki the flights are booked to keep building on the shots we have quadruple back ups of (no repeats of last year!). Thanks to Jan and all the guys at the Gasthof Zillertal for looking after us and sorting us an apartment to stay in, and Chris Chatt for giving us some of the spot locations. So far we have got into February with over 60 shots for the new film and we havnt even taken a chair lift yet this season.