Snowboard legend Travis Rice kicks off Aspen film fest with keynote
Travis Rice sees snowboarding and filmmaking as one and the same. They are uniquely different yet undeniably similar art forms, and maybe this is why he has been so successful at both.
“That’s what snowboarding is — it’s an opportunity to express creativity,” Rice said. “They are a series of challenges and a series of failures, with a couple of breakthroughs. It is definitely not a job; it’s a passion. Without the willingness and passion of a crew of like-minded individuals, we would have never finished.”
Rice, the big-mountain snowboard legend from Jackson, Wyoming, spoke Thursday at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, his keynote being the start of The Meeting, the annual snowsports film festival hosted by Aspen Skiing Co.
Rice spoke of his career in the film industry, with special attention paid to his newest film, “The Fourth Phase,” which made its world premiere on Red Bull TV this week.
“We wanted to step back and breakdown and actually go to the foundation of some of the motivations of why we all enjoy playing in the mountains,” Rice said of his newest film. “The film is about water. For me, it goes back to almost 16 years ago.”
“The Fourth Phase” certainly stands out in the world of snowboard feature films. Produced by Red Bull Media House and Brain Farm, directed by Jon Klaczkiewicz and starring Rice himself, the idea behind the film was to follow the hydrological cycle in the Pacific Ocean, which is responsible for much of the snowfall in the western United States. The title was inspired by the work of University of Washington professor Gerald Pollack and his research on the fourth phase of water.
Rice’s motivation for the film’s plot also stemmed from his relationship with fellow pro snowboarder and Jackson native Bryan Iguchi — featured in the film — who for years sat and pondered the intricate relationship between the sea and mountains with a younger and more impressionable Rice.
“Essentially, the fourth phase of water is responsible for supporting life itself,” Rice said during Thursday’s keynote. “We had started to look at maps and do research and it really made sense.”
It was a poem written by Iguchi, which ended with the line, “This process we follow, This cycle we ride,” that Rice, also an avid sailor, said stuck with him through the years and eventually led to “The Fourth Phase.”
Rice’s last major film, “The Art of Flight,” had been released in 2011. That film was, according to Rice, essentially a sequel to “That’s It, That’s All,” released in 2008. The goal with “The Fourth Phase” was to make sure it stood alone among the films.
“It got boring. I was tired of doing the same s— and making everything look cool,” said Mark Landvik, a pro snowboarder who has long collaborated with Rice on his films and was a featured rider in the newest film. He was among the audience Thursday and joined Rice onstage at the end of his talk. “For me, it’s been the hardest four years of my life, but also the best. I think the main takeaway for me is no matter what, you have to balance it out and take the good with the bad.”
The hourlong keynote presentation ended with a Q&A, moderated by ESPN senior writer Alyssa Roenigk, the most important question being, “What’s next?” The only confident answer Rice could give was that, like after all of his previous films, he was going to take the next year off.
As for him making another film, it’s certainly in the cards but far from a done deal.
“As long as I’m still having fun, as long as I’m still invested emotionally into it and it keeps my interest, then yeah,” Rice said. “It’s a good question. Once again, I’m taking a year off. Reset the perspective. I don’t know. I will say we definitely left a lot on the table.”
“The Fourth Phase” is one of the films being screened this weekend as part of The Meeting. It will be shown twice, once at 8:30 p.m. today and again at 3 p.m. Saturday, both at the Wheeler Opera House.
For tickets and to see the full lineup from the weekend’s events — which includes a Saturday happy hour with snowboard legend Jeremy Jones — visit http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.