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The Manboys grow up

A feature film for seven Whistler buddies and snowboarders extraordinaire



When filmmaker Rusty Ockenden and his merry band of Manboys release their first snowboarding feature, they didn't reach far for a title.

The Man Boys Movie, which has its world premiere at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Friday, Sept. 23, is a chance for seven friends to work together on an action film, says Ockenden.

Along with Ockenden are fellow Manboys, Chris Rasman, Mark Sollors, Matt Belzile, Craig McMorris, Jody Wachniak and Anto Chamberland.

"All of us have been filming for other projects for a long time, probably 10 years at least, both in Canada and internationally," Ockenden explains.

"We're all best friends and this is the first project where we're working together. It makes it unique because a lot of times in these projects, your sponsors will put you in a film and they're not concerned if you are with your friends or not.

"It makes our crew special and we really enjoy it. We've lived in Whistler for 12 years now."

Ockenden wanted to also give a shout out to their two cameramen, Nate Laverty (who doubled as editor and babysitter of the guys, Ockenden says), and Mathieu Gibeault.

Taking a look at the film's trailer, it seems to veer between serious mountain shredding and some dangerous-looking urban antics on rails and off roofs. In fact, the mean streets of Montreal were used, Ockenden says.

"It was a one-year project filmed primarily in Whistler and Revelstoke, entirely and Canada. We had a really good winter, the previous year it was so bad we were hardly in Whistler at all," he adds.

"It's 60 per cent backcountry snowboarding and 40 per cent parks and streets, well maybe not parks! We had one crew operating in Montreal. I actually don't do the city snowboarding because I live in Whistler and I'm spoiled and I don't want to leave."

The Manboys — Are they a company? Are they a throng? — first burst onto the scene after winning the Intersection short film competition at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in 2014. They also took home $10,000 and realized they were onto something.

Their satirical piss-take of themselves and their on- and off-slope exploits set the tone for their subsequent work.

"The year we did Intersection, we started our project with a web series," Ockenden says.

"That was six short edits, some were travel based in Japan, Italy and Alaska. We wanted to change it up and at the beginning of last winter we decided to do a full movie."

They got their branding down — each project along the way has been called The Man Boys.

"We were thinking of a title but we just decided to stick with it," Ockenden says.

"We want to constantly be experimenting. After this year, I don't think we'll do a feature movie next year, I think we'll do a different format, maybe a TV show. We not sure, we're just constantly trying to do something new."

He explains that they weren't trying for a straight-up storyline, just action.

"And there are little bits of humour and a lot of snowboarding. In the past, with our stuff, we tried to make it relatable. We've tried to keep it that way, so when people watch it they will want to go snowboarding, which is our goal," Ockenden says.

"It's the kind of stuff we like to watch. It's a great vibe."

So why did he feel the need to create Manboys and make films?

"Luckily, we were able to make a career out of snowboarding. When you are able to do it as a job professionally, you're totally immersed in it year round and you get to travel to the best locations and follow the best snow," he says.

"It gives you freedom. It's worth sacrificing everything for."

After the world premiere, The Man Boys Movie is getting premieres around Canada and the U.S. It will also be on iTunes as of Oct. 18.

There are two screenings of The Man Boys Movie, at 7 p.m. (all ages) and 9 p.m. (19-plus). Tickets are $10 plus $1.50.

For more information, visit www.artswhistler.com.