Rorschach: Scott Stevens

Extracted from Methodmag Volume 20. 

About a month before Suzy Greenberg 270 was released we got Scott Stevens on the phone to discuss the ins-and-outs of making the movie, his seemingly endless string of injuries, and the pressures of being a creative snowboarder.

Interview by Theo Acworth

Hey Scott, it’s been tough to pin you down. Thanks for finding the time to talk to us.

No problem, I’m sorry I didn’t do it earlier, I’ve been a lot busier than I’m used to at this time of year.

How’s things going with the video?

Pretty hectic. I feel like I might have bitten off a little bit more than I can chew *laughs*. Just trying to finish it all up now. I had a few chronic injuries this year too on top of the project, but it’s awesome, it’s coming to an end.

How did you hurt yourself?

Well I injured my calf in November, then I fucked my knee up in January. In February I landed on my hip trying a backflip-blunt on a wallride. Then in Salt Lake I was trying a one foot trick and I hurt my calf again and was out for another 3 weeks. So then I go to Oslo, had a really good event at Bench Heaven with Freddy Perry. When I got back from there I was in the backcountry with Grenier and I tried a cab double 9. I wanted to show that side of my snowboarding in the part too. I hit this jump, came around and started riding it out - the first one I’ve ever tried - I thought ‘oh I’ve got this’ and then the second one I landed straight in a bomb hole and came to a complete stop instantly. My knee took the impact like a car accident. Doctors and people just can’t get me on top of it, or I can’t get myself on top of it. I just can’t grab my board the same way and do Methods and Japans and stuff. I just work around it to be honest.

Damn, that sounds relentless. 

If you talk to people that know me, they would definitely say that I didn’t pay too much attention to my health this year. I think now I’m definitely going to tone it down. I’ll have around 8 minutes of footage when this thing is done though, which is a lot. It’s not all snowboarding, but it’s still a lot.

That is a lot. So what was the actual plan for Suzy Greenberg 270 The Movie? Who’s in it?

So the original crew was just me and Jesse Burtner. He’s done so much for me over the years with Think Thank and we kinda teamed up. Then Chris Grenier said that he wanted to have a part in it, and of course I said yes, so he jumped in. And Jesse being the TM of Mervin started bringing in some Mervin guys, which for sure I was down with. We got Brandon Reis, Matteo Soltane, Phil Hansen is in there a little bit. Then my buddy Chris Beresford said he wanted to be in it and started filming a part. Then Freddy Perry came to me and said ‘Scott, I’m going to have a part in your video’. I said ok, I guess I’ll have to see the footage, then I saw the footage and it was incredible, so I said ‘Yes you are definitely having a part in this movie’. And then the last guy to submit footage was Max Warbington. He’s absolutely incredible on a snowboard and he filmed a part with his friend Logan and they sent me the footage. So that’s pretty much the roster. 

Heavy line up. Sounds like it expanded pretty fast Did you have a plan when you started shooting?

I honestly didn’t know which way the movie was going to go. I had envisioned it as a glorified instagram edit, like a 30 minute instagram edit. I got the feeling like GNU did that already with Cloud though. I watched that and thought it had the vibe that I was really going after, just fucking anything, cool and real moments. If someone is ripping close to me then I’m gonna film them, if I get a clip of them, then great. I was at Dew Tour and was filming Red Gerrard because I thought it would be sick to have a Red clip in there.

How much of a learning curve was it for you doing this project?

Oh it was huge. I learned a lot about myself, because when I filmed for other video projects I don’t get too selfish or needy, but for this one I felt like I had an obligation, people thought I was making my own version of 9191 or something, you know? And that wasn’t what I was trying to do, I was just trying to film my friends and toss around my footage, and then it sort of formed into more of a community thing. I’m just a yes man when people ask me to do things, so I just started taking on more riders, and after a while the video started growing and growing, and then I couldn’t tell people no, so I just kinda said… yes, without too much authority. I wasn’t really putting my foot down. But I think in the end we have a stronger snowboard video, because everyone else came and picked me up and more than carried my slack when I was getting hurt.

Truckin'

Video projects can very quickly turn into something totally different from what you originally planned. All you can really do is roll with it.

There were definitely a lot of cooks in the kitchen at one point. A lot of it was me just being more ok with letting go and not being such a micro manager. I saw all of my worst qualities come out in this video. It sounds so dramatic, I saw myself arguing with my wife, I was internally struggling with aspects of it which was kinda selfish. Because I was getting hurt I was thinking of postponing the video so I could have more of a chance to get more footage when I had recovered, but of course everyone wanted to put their parts out now. I didn’t realise that this would ever be anyone else’s decision but mine, and I welcomed all these people and now it’s on me to put out a product. I don’t mean to sound like the victim here *laughs*.

You don’t, that’s the nature of projects with multiple people involved. Would you say you’re feeling good about it though?

I am. I was talking to someone recently about it and there’s a saying that if you end up trying to please everyone you’ll end up pleasing no-one, and I’m trying to beat that. I want to please all the guys in the movie, I just want to please everyone and prove that saying wrong in some way.

That’s very admirable of you Scott. It’s by no means normal to put everyone else’s happiness before your own, especially as the project was primarily your creation.

Thanks. Hopefully everyone will be happy. I want to be friends with these people, you know? *laughs* I don’t want them to think that I’m some sort of dictator that has all this power over the movie. I just kept saying yes to footage and then finally I realised that I’ve got myself an hour long movie here! The movie makes me laugh though, I watch it and there’s a lot of it that I find really funny. I think I got some closure when I realised that it’s not just about the riding. The riding is kind of a bonus. It sounds cliché, but I realised that the one thing I have a knack for is keeping the camera running the whole time to capture some of those other moments.

That’s cool to hear. For me at least, if all I see are action shots in a movie then I get bored pretty fast.

I want the entertainment value to be high. I know the length is about 5 or 10 mins past where people will stick with us. It’s at a point now where it really is something fun to watch.

Max Warbington.
Maddie in action.

In terms of your own riding, do you ever feel pressure to one-up yourself with more and more creative tricks and spots?

I definitely felt a lot of pressure in the recent instagram age to do tricks that are quirky and creative. I got pushed to a level where I could feel that my tricks were getting a bit of backlash though. I don’t want to sound too overly sensitive about it, but I could feel like it wasn’t as cool anymore. And that’s on me, because ‘cool’ is a perspective. I think that’s why I tried to go out and do some normal snowboarding, and that was almost harder for me. I get so fired up trying to do something that feels interesting and playful and technical. That’s my m/o with snowboarding, and I really enjoy stuff like that. I also understand where I sit within snowboarding though, my mind can still go into the gutter when reading negative comments and stuff like that.

Did the injuries take some pressure off you to personally deliver shots for this project?

Oh man, I want to say yes, but I told myself that for this I was having a skate part, a snow part and a tramp part, and I’m gonna edit it. So I didn’t give myself much slack. I just wanted it so bad it was almost like a sick obsession. I wanted so badly to have my name on this, and I think a lot of people were expecting me to have more footage in it, but I was mostly the filmer and the editor for it. So I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety. A lot of people think that I can just do this stuff, but almost all of my tricks are battles. But that was sort of how I measured myself, I felt like if I didn’t get into a battle with something then I didn’t think I’d tried hard enough, or the trick wasn’t worth it. It was a bit of a theme.

That sounds like pressure. What was it like for you being in more of a filming role?

I’ve always filmed stuff here and there, but this time I had a lot more gear. A couple of cameras and lights and stuff. Sometimes I would be a little confused about my role, whether it would be to get a trick, or to film. Sometimes when I would film I would slack off on own my riding, because I’d see someone going off and think ‘Oh shit I have to film that guy, I want to have that in the video’.

© Garret Read Tailblock slide.

Who else helped out with the filming?

Jesse got me in touch with Garret Read. He’s a really good filmer and really positive, and he was super easy to work with. I’d get frustrated when I was battling on stuff and he really stuck with me on tricks. Trying to line up our schedules wasn’t always the easiest though, and then I hurt my knee. So he filmed me from January to March. I would say I shot about 50% of the movie on my own camera, but of course I had to have someone else filming me while I was riding. Garret got most of the shots of me, but then my wife or friends would sometimes film with phones, and if it was a worthwhile clip I’d hang onto it instead of going the instagram route.

Did you edit the whole thing?

No, I’d say I edited about 27 mins of it, and Jesse edited the rest. I think it will be quite obvious when the editing switches between us because Jesse’s editing style is a bit more elaborate than mine. I just put the clips in order. But the collaboration will definitely be for the best. My own organisation of hard drives and clips is terrible though. I’m still searching for a clip I filmed of Ben Bogart a year ago, and I have no idea where it is.

© Jesse Burtner. Mentor, filmer, editor, one footer.

It definitely sounds like it’s been a bit of a journey, but a good one?

It was definitely a journey, but I absolutely loved this process. I hated it too, but I honestly don’t even know what I have. The only people who’ve seen it are people that I know really well. I’m really excited to see if we have something that’s better than what I think we have. I just don’t honestly know *laughs*. This movie will be a bit different from those really well produced ones with perfect editing. The camera will be shaking, the lens will be dirty, you know what I mean? We did the best we could.

If we only saw perfect snowboard videos, we’d get bored pretty fast. Thanks for mixing things up for us Scott, we’re stoked to see this thing. Any last words?

It’s such privilege for me to be able to make snowboard videos. I’ve loved them for so long and been inspired by countless hours of video. Thanks to all of my friends and everyone involved who was able to collectively help us get to this point.Thanks to all the filmers and Logan Beaulieu and Martin Strøm for their shots, and all the riders who submitted footage. Thanks to my sponsors of course - Capita, Thirty Two, Union, Smith, Crab Grab, Coal, Magical Gogo, Theory Skateshop. Special thanks to Max Warbington and Freddy Perry for adding a lot of spice to the overall video and having my back in the snowboard part world. Grenier for bringing the comedic level to an all time high and also Jesse Burtner for being an inspiration to me for decades. Lastly and most importantly I really want to thank my wife Naomi for encouraging me and letting me live in a play-land that I call my snowboard career. I get to shred and laugh, and  it doesn’t get much better than that.

Watch the full movie here: