Matchstick Productions’ ‘Drop Everything’ makes ski movies fun again
If You Go …
What: ‘Drop Everything’ at The Meeting, presented by Aspen Skiing Co.
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Friday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.
How much: $20
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
More info: The film is part of a Friday double feature with Dendrite Studios’ ‘Numinous;’ www.aspensnowmass.com
The Meeting 13 Full Film Schedule
FRIDAY, OCT. 6
7 p.m. Double Feature: ‘Numinous,’ Dendrite Studios; ‘Drop Everything,’ Matchstick Productions at Wheeler Opera House
9 p.m. Summit Party: ‘Habit,’ Level 1; music by Golden at The Sundeck
SATURDAY, OCT. 7
6 p.m. NEPSA Awards at Wheeler Opera House
9 p.m. Double Feature: Arcadia,’ Transworld Snowboarding; ‘R3boot,’ Shredbots; music by Berkel Beats with Sunfeathr at Belly Up Aspen
Skiing is fun and pro skiers are funny, “Drop Everything” — the much-anticipated new movie from Matchstick Productions — reminds us.
Many ski flicks in recent years have gotten wrapped up in capital “E” extreme travelogues, sober athlete profiles and self-serious avant-garde filmmaking. “Drop Everything” takes the wind out of those trends with a refreshing mix of silliness, self-mockery and, of course, sick ski segments from the likes of Sammy Carlson, Sander Hadley and Eric Hjorleifson.
The film, which screens Friday at The Meeting, returns Matchstick to the basics of celebrating the joy of skiing, showcasing some of the sport’s best, embracing the quirky senses of humor of its athletes and generally not taking anything seriously. Fans of Matchstick’s 2008 title “Claim: The Greatest Ski Movie…EVER!” will be pleased with the comic approach, which lands laughs from its slapstick opening credit sequence on the streets of Crested Butte through its segments filmed across North America and a backflip-while-chugging-beer closing shot.
“Matchstick’s mission with ‘Drop Everything was to have people laughing, high-fiving, and excited to get back to the mountains to ski,” Matchstick producer Michael Hans said recently via email. “It’s a feel-good ski movie that draws inspiration from (Matchstick’s) roots, showcasing the individual skiers as the stars that they are. There’s no nonsense, no filler, just a whole bunch of awesome skiing.”
“Drop Everything” often plays like a combination of big mountain skiing and improv comedy. As Mark Abma scouts a line, at one point, the crew calls on him to describe it using only sexual terminology (coining the term “vulvic roll” for skiers everywhere). Married couple Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad have a segment where they shred while playfully bickering and spouting cheesy, lovey-dovey banter.
“The skiers and the film crew are all good friends and there’s a lot of joking during these film shoots to keep the mood light,” Hans said. “The cameras kept rolling this year to make sure we would have a lot of those moments to work with.”
The film also includes some scripted interludes. Michelle Parker breaks out a ukulele to serenade the audience with a self-mocking original song (“I’ll blow out my knee for you,” she croons) and a massive cliff face comes to animated life and beckons Markus Eder “Markus, jump me!”
Last year’s Matchstick movie, “Ruin and Rose,” was an artistic leap forward for the genre. But, based on the sour audience reaction, it leaped a bit too far. The film, set in a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by children, featured long stretches of bleak footage of kids wandering the desert. It was interspersed with ski segments — most agreed not nearly enough segments — in a muddled plotline.
“We received a lot of feedback and constructive criticism following the serious narrative of ‘Ruin and Rose,’ and we took that to heart,” Hans said.
Matchstick poked some fun at itself and “Ruin and Rose” in the widely circulated trailer for “Drop Everything,” which included an over-dramatic narrator sarcastically promising “300 percent more sand!” in the new film.
But Hans said “Drop Everything” isn’t necessarily a response to Ben Sturgulewski’s “Ruin and Rose” so much as it is evidence of the wildly different visions and styles of the filmmakers in the Matchstick stable. “Drop Everything” director Scott Gaffney — a Matchstick veteran — has been brewing ideas for the film for years, he said.
“The end result just happened to be a complete 180 from ‘Ruin and Rose’ — more jokes, more skiing and a lot more fun,” Hans said.
Narrative features like “Ruin and Rose” are no doubt here to stay in ski movies and in Matchstick’s future, Hans said, but they’ll live alongside traditional lighthearted ski porn, ski-inspired art films and documentaries.
“I think viewers can expect to see a lot more of those story-driven features in the future,” Hans said, “but that doesn’t mean that those movies won’t include healthy doses of humor and action.”
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