Word of Mouth by Wietse Thomas

For our issue 24.2, we asked Wietse Thomas to share his experience as a filmmaker freshly thrown in the Oslo street scene. Little did we know that he was going to be so generous and willing to give us parts of his personal diary to print. We can't think of a better way to learn about what goes down behind the scenes of the making of "Word of Mouth" (an absolute must watch by the way...) and how he personally felt about it all. This is Word of Mouth, journal of a filmmaker in Oslo.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 10.59.02.png


Words and photos: Wietse Thomas


18/07/23 - A Norwegian Beach
We’re halfway into summer, and plans for the coming fall are being made. Today, the Method guys asked me if I would be down to print things from my diary filming with Markus and the rest of the crew last winter. I think it's cool, but since my diary is filled with writings about my deepest fears and desires, I decided to only share some outtakes from a winter well spent. I don’t want to put everything in a snowboard magazine, you know. It did make me reflect on my friends and life in Oslo, though. To call ourselves a crew would be an overstatement. Being a crew would imply a certain degree of organization, some long-term goal, or at least a name. We have none of those. I’m often surprised we get things done. A smart Frenchman called Michel Maffesoli coined the term urban tribe to describe subcultures of people who share interests, have similar styles of dress, behave similarly, and like to come together in groups. Maybe we are an urban tribe loosely organized around our fascination for snowboarding mixed with music and clothes. This makes us a group of individuals rather than a crew, open and always in flux. We lack any common goals but make up for it with a common vision. I ended up making a video with my best friends, is what I’m trying to say.

28/12/22 - Brussels to Oslo
I took an early flight from Brussels to Oslo. Christmas at home was cozy but wet, like usual. Climate change has reduced the winters in Belgium to an average of 6 degrees and rain. In the meantime, an early winter storm had turned Oslo into a snowboarding playground. Markus (Rustad) kept teasing me with photos and videos of white streets. Today he proudly showed me the footage he and Mons (Bømher) had gathered. I couldn’t help but feel like I missed out. The exact same thing happened to me last year. 
When I got off the plane, it started raining, quickly turning the snow into ice, just like last year! It’s as if I’m carrying this kind of weather with me. Maybe it’s my mood ruining things in the atmosphere. The city is warning that going out for a walk is at your own risk. Old people are breaking their bones on the pavement. 

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.00.53.png
Street make-up for Mons.


3/01/23 - Brumunddal
It’s a new year and a new me, but Oslo is still covered by a thick layer of ice. I saw a guy struggling to get to the top of a hill, slipping out right before he got there and sliding 50 meters back down. His friends burst out laughing.
We decided to get out of there and took the car towards Hamar. On our way, we stopped by this triple-down rail we wanted to check out. It was at least minus fifteen, our bodies were shaking, and my toes had turned white inside my boots. Mons is still a rookie when it comes to street snowboarding. He tried his luck on this one and quickly learned that wild handrails are different beasts. He got stuck on the first kink and flew face down into the snow. You got lucky right there, Mons, just some scratches on your pretty face. We had a good laugh watching the footage. Markus battled the rail for two more hours but didn’t make it all the way to the end before it got too dark. A little defeated, we drove further to spend the night at Mons's childhood home. The heat and the warm food lifted our spirits.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.01.54.png
Stine making this rail look like a walk in the park.

4/01/23 - Hamar
Today we found this interesting-looking wooden rail. Stine (Tønessen) felt ready, jumped into a 50, and after a couple of tries, navigated the short drop-down flat with ease. Markus and Mons joined the session. I’m excited about the clips and the photo. I’m sitting in the passenger's seat on our way home to Oslo. The weather report looks very promising for the following days. I’m not missing out on this one.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.19.04.png
Markus on a peace-keeping mission.


6/01/23 - Downtown Oslo
A blizzard has raged over the city for the last two days. My friends tell me this is the most snow they have ever seen in the center (old heads might disagree). We had only one spot on our minds. In the heart of the downtown area, functioning as one of the emergency exits to Oslo’s biggest concert hall lays a fairly sized set of stairs flanked by a rainbow curved ledge. It’s a beautiful spot that we have been looking at for years, but because of its location, it rarely gets any snow. This time is different, though. 
It’s only a 10-minute walk from Markus's apartment, so yesterday, we just plowed through the snow-filled streets. On our way, we noticed an unusual amount of police cars but figured it might have to do something with the snowstorm. We dropped our stuff and got to work. Only a couple minutes later, a cop and a security guard showed up at the bottom of the stairs, yelling and ordering us to come down immediately. There was no room for explaining ourselves, ‘So we are doing this video project…’. The vibe was heated. It’s very unusual for the police in Norway to be this aggressive, so we all felt a little weird about it. As soon as we had packed up and came down, the guard had a much friendlier tone and explained to us there was an exceptionally important meeting happening inside the hall. Tomorrow was his day off, he said with a wink. Still confused, It was only when we read the news that it all made sense. A conference with the secretary general of NATO was happening at the concert hall that day. We agreed that discussing the war in Ukraine is a serious matter that should not be disturbed by a bunch of noisy snowboarders.
When we returned to our dream spot this morning, we were happy to find it was still covered in snow. Friends showed up to help out with shoveling and filming. Markus got to session it on his own for an hour with the rest of us filming and watching out for traffic. We didn’t get kicked out. We got the clips and the photo. Today was a good day.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.05.10.png
A modern homo universalis gap to lipslide.


17/01/23 - University of Oslo
It’s only mid-January, and we already have a decent video on our hands. I've been out filming practically every day these last weeks. Markus is free from school this month and has really found his drive again. He spent most of December behind his books, daydreaming of tricks. I’ve seen him grow in his riding, but this year he’s just on something else. Intelligently selecting spots and tastefully picking out tricks. Filming a video part while being a full-time student is a rare feat. He is the modern homo universalis, combining book smart and street knowledge.

16/02/2023 - Songsvann
Fredrick (Johnsen) had a bit of a slow start this winter. He didn’t seem too keen to start filming again. Lately, he’s been hitting me up again. Today he sent me pictures of tree stumps and trash cans that needed some explaining. No one else would consider these things to be spots, but Freddy made it work somehow. I guess he needed his own way in. His riding is his own and a blessing to watch. Excited to have you with us again, Fred. <3

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.22.10.png
Freddy, busy loggin' clips.

02/03/2023 - The valley of Torshov
Most of the snow in the city centre has melted, there might be some left in the outskirts, but right now, it’s not worth the effort. We’ve been cruising the resort and hiking the little rail garden in the city. It feels like going to the skatepark. Today Mons and I got creative with this rusty pink rail lying around. It had lost some of its feet, but we managed to make it stand somewhat stable on the steep sun-dried hill right next to the actual park. There was just enough snow in the landing to make it work. Two shovels of snow were all Mons needed as an inrun. It worked much better than expected. This is where Mons shines the most. He is an excellent skater with quick feet and cat-like reflexes. His snowboarding is fast and unpredictable. (Thank you, Torshovdalen Brettklubb, for making this little snowboarding paradise a reality).

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.23.16.png
Mons, pretty in pink.

05/03/2023 - Asker
Freddy got taken out by a dirty double kink. He fell backward into the stairs, hit his head on the side, and slid down the rest of the set on his belly. He didn’t go unconscious but was severely confused and had no memory of what had just happened. His words made no sense to us. For a moment, I was sure my friend would never be the same. We decided to drive to the hospital for a check-up. While waiting, Fredrick came back to earth and could recollect his thoughts. We explained to the doctor that it was a snowboarding accident. She asked if there was a video. Fredrick and I looked at each other, a little unsure. “Well, hum, yes,” I said, hesitating. I took my camera out of the bag. Expecting a smartphone, the doctor was surprised to see this big clumsy camera. “It’s this thing we do,” I tried to explain. We watched the clip together in slo-mo, and she commented that it didn’t look that bad. He had hit his head, but his body had taken most of the impact. In a serious voice, she said: “at least you had a beanie on your head, but it would be a lot smarter to wear a helmet.” We felt slightly judged but couldn’t develop any good arguments, so we just nodded. After some mandatory tests, Fredrick got fired from the hospital. I had fun telling my friends I got to check out the footy with a doctor.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.24.38.png
Freddy's back on earth.

08/03/2023 - Oppdal
We are living the Scandinavian dream. We took the car to Markus, his family cabin in the resort of Oppdal. Ski in, ski out kinda stuff. We‘re cruising the slopes, finding powder between the trees. Cliff drops and slashes. Shrieks of joy every time someone leaves the ground. We spend all our evenings playing cards by the fireplace. The good life.

09/03/2023 - Oppdal 
The last day of this short trip was dedicated to fulfilling one of Markus's teenage dreams. Next to the Oppdal train station stands a strange hotel. It looks like a building with a split personality. The original part of the hotel is from the late 19th century, while the rest was added in the 70s. This expansion has been a heavily debated topic, but if you ask us, it's a huge success. The whole modern part has some unique snowboarding potential. It comprises steep white ledges that start on the roof and extend two stories down. Straight into the snow. 
This might seem too good to be true, but the hotel’s daily manager happens to be Markus’s aunt. “If we ask nicely, we can get her permission,” he said. We went in and did our best to act like the sweet-hearted boys we actually are. After some initial scepticism, she gave us her trust, showed us how to access the roof, and even provided us with extra shovels and drinks. We promised it would make a good promotion for the hotel. 
Later, we found out we weren’t the first to have this idea. Alek Østreng showed me a legendary photo of Daniel Frank, ready to drop in on the same ledge (I doubt he went into the hotel lobby and asked nicely for permission).

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.26.46.png
Markus getting the 5 star treatment.

14/03/23 - Jordal
Half an hour before going to work, Mons went for one last try. His board got stuck in the rail on the way up. He broke two ribs on the way down. He called in sick.

19/03/23 - Asker
It’s late March, and we have had the winter of our dreams. It’s been so good I'm actually over it. Enough with the shovelling and the driving, and the wet boots!  If we snowboarders are done with snow, the rest of Oslo must be sick and tired of it. We want to lay on the spring grass and share drinks in the sun.
But to end our season, Markus and I had a final date. Just the two of us, out to get some last clips. It was romantic. We rented a car and drove to the last two spots on Markus's list. Two more outstanding clips made it onto my hard drive and soon all over the internet…
I shot a cute photo of him right before packing up. It has been drizzling the whole day, and Markus is completely soaked. Tired and satisfied, we drove back to town. Lou Reed is playing on the radio. We are singing along. Guess the song.

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.26.57.png
Markus, done.

18/07/23 - in my head
I’m unsure when random activities captured on video turn into a project, but at some point last winter, they did. Starting without expectations, our motivation and confidence grew as the snow kept falling. Only when it was over could we see what we had created. I’m so glad we got support from Jesse (Burtner) and Florian (Heim) from Gnu Snowboards and Deeluxe Boots. I’m thankful that Martin (Daniel Eikganger), Bryden (Bowley), and Pekka (Christian Løvås) shared their talents with me. If anything, this project is about friendship. A bond between people that originated and grew through a shared activity, but that came to mean so much more than that. When I think of all the lucky opportunities that have led me here and how it might as well not have happened, I get dizzy. Knowing that it happened makes me grateful. There is little in life as good as doing what you love with people you love. Maybe one day we can be a crew. <3

Capture d’écran 2024-02-13 à 11.27.06.png


The movie "Word of Mouth" by Wietse Thomas: