It was the most challenging shoot Justin Hostynek had ever been on.
The Absinthe Films co-founder says that in his two decades of filmmaking, he's never seen as treacherous conditions as he experienced last season. Very few places had decent snow — Japan, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Europe. But even in these locations, the conditions were unstable at best.
Upon their arrival in Alaska, Hostynek and his team lost two good friends — a tragedy that marked the entire shoot.
"All around us there were more fatalities then I have ever seen," Hostynek says from his home in Nelson, B.C. "It was challenging but somehow, man, we got lucky and made one of the best films we ever made."
The film in question is Absinthe's latest, Resonance, which was filmed over 30 locations in North America, Europe and Japan.
Each of these film shoots last anywhere from one day to one week. Some were more stressful than others, but through it all, Hostynek says the riders — Absinthe regular Nicholas Müller, Brandon Cocard and Manuel Diaz, among others — "performed amazingly."
"It all comes down to the riders," he says.
Well, that may not be completely true. Hostynek has two decades of experience under his belt. He started out as a photographer during his high school years, making calendars.
He founded Absinthe Films in 1997 and since 2000 has been working with his business partner, Zurich-based Patrick Armbruster. Their first collaboration was 2000's Tribal and since then, they have released one movie every year, including 2011's Twe12ve.
"I just love making movies. I love making snowboard movies. I've been doing it for 22 years now and it doesn't get old," he says.
"One of the best things about it is every season, there's a totally different work load. It's non-stop every season, there's a ton to do — in the winter, of course, being on the road and filming, or being at home filming (and) in the summertime, editing, and then in the fall being on tour and planning the next film. There're a lot of different challenges rather than the same thing over and over."
Absinthe has five film crews located around North America and Europe, with Hostynek leading the B.C. crew.
"We really just follow the snow," Hostynek says. "If the snow's good at home, everybody loves to stay at home, but we tend to be on the road a lot. I guess that's why everybody likes to be at home so much."
He says that not all the film shoots were treacherous. He spent a bulk of the time working and shooting in Switzerland and Austria, staying with Müller at his home in Lech — a "dream trip for about a month," he says.
Resonance will be available on DVD within the next two weeks (Hostynek is not sure when, exactly, they'll hit stores) and Absinthe is giving movie fans and board enthusiasts across the world the chance to see the film on the big screen before they purchase it. The film will premier at Millennium Place on Tuesday.
Ultimately, the film is all about revving people up for the upcoming snow season.
"It's totally about gettimg hundreds of enthusiastic snowboarders in a room together to get stoked for winter," he says.
It's this great thing that we get to do every year and get excited about."