New snowboarding science fiction movie ‘The Battle for First Chair’ features Vail, Summit locals
There now exists a science fiction movie about snowboarding, and when one of the characters showed up at Comic-Con International in San Diego this year, staffers there told him it was a first descent of sorts.
“They hadn’t really seen a snowboard character before,” said the film’s writer/director/producer, who goes by the handle of Trailer Tom.
Some confusion over how to categorize his costume accessory resulted.
“They don’t like anything with metal edges,” Trailer Tom said. “But it was approved.”
The movie, “The Battle for First Chair, Opening Day Dreams” was made available on Prime Video this month. It’s about a robot and a human battling to be on the first lift of the season in North America, otherwise known as “first chair,” a prize to be won each season.
Trailer Tom knows well what it’s like to be on that first chair, and how the celebratory atmosphere of the event creates a dramatic setting ideal for film. Following the first chair of the season at the first resort to open, each individual ski area will have its own first chair celebration on Opening Day.
Trailer Tom is a Summit County local and frequent first chair rider along with his longtime friend Nate Dogggg; the pair have been riding first chairs for decades. Here in Vail, Cesar Hermosillo has become the face of the first chair over the last decade or so, and Hermosillo is featured in “Battle for First Chair” as well.
Hermosillo and Trailer Tom will tell you the first chair atmosphere is more about camaraderie than skiing. Getting on the first chair usually involves camping out the night before, or even several days before in the case of the first chair of the season.
Over the years, Tom started to realize that the time-killing phase of the first chair quest could be put to good use.
“There’s a lot of standing in line, it might be multiple days, it might be over a week,” he said.
Years ago, Tom started thinking about what it would take for him to pivot from being a non-fiction snowboarding movie maker to a writer/director of a fictional film.
Being a lifelong comic book reader and space opera fan, a science fiction movie was his obvious choice. His previous snowboarding movies featured something for the gamer sect, as well, as Trailer Tom is known to bring a pinball machine with generator to his first chair camping sessions.
Shooting began on the movie in 2019, but the final product wasn’t completed this spring. That’s why, Trailer Tom says, in recent years, the Denver television stations have featured numerous appearances of his character Redice in covering first chair at Arapahoe Basin. Redice wears a red, leather, hooded cloak, and carries a dagger.
“I would be in full costume interviewing, and sometimes I would try to not break character,” he said.
After shooting the film, Trailer Tom set about producing and distributing it with a little help from his friends. It’s an area in which he already had a lot of experience from his previous snowboarding movies. In one of his earlier experiences filming, Trailer Tom showed up at the very first X Games in Crested Butte, camera in hand, with no credentials, and was welcomed onto the competition venues with no problems.
“We just talked to folks and said ‘Hey I want to film my friends,’ and they just set you up alongside the big air jump,” he said.
He said the experience set him up to crash Comic-Con.
“Everything has to be approved long in advance,” he said of Comic-Con. “I’m just learning this as I go.”
Not to be deterred, Trailer Tom showed up anyway and managed to get Redice approved for entrance, in full costume. But that was just the start; by the end of the event, a “The Battle for First Chair” table had been set up at Comic-Con, with posters and DVDs available.
“All the staff wanted to come by and take pictures with (Redice) and get the posters,” Trailer Tom said.
Now available to watch on Prime Video, Tom said if you like the film, he hopes you will give it a good review. And, in the character of Redice, he also said if you don’t like the film, “do not, under any circumstances, leave a review.”
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Rob Bak has a snowboarding part in the film, and Vail local Taylor Paris makes a cameo, as well.
You can stream “The Battle for First Chair” for as low as $.99 by renting the standard definition version, with options ranging up to $4.99 to purchase the HD version.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.