Summit pro snowboarders Corning, Blackwell go for broke in debut film
BOULDER — The crescendo to the opening scene for Chris Corning’s debut film effort is the snowboard equivalent to the Netflix smash hit “Stranger Things.” After the flick simmers for a few minutes with visuals and audio enticing the viewer into what’s about to come, TJ Homan drops into the closest thing to a snowboarding portal.
In reality, Homan drops into a gargantuan tube that serves as an overflow drain on a lake, like the slides on the side of a dam. But after the jaw-dropping visual, viewers are transported into the world champion and Olympic snowboarder Corning’s impressive first snowboarding filmmaking effort despite the novel coronavirus situation, a limited personal budget and the kind of naivety that goes with a maiden project.
But watching the 30-minute film, the viewers wouldn’t know those were the variables Corning, co-director and daring snowboarder Sam Klein and filmer and editor Alex Havey were up against. The dozens of local skateboarders who came out to see the flick at Satellite Boardshop in Boulder certainly wouldn’t have taken away from the outdoors, socially distanced film premiere that this was a rookie endeavor. And that begins with Holman’s death-defying drop-in just moments into the wild ride that is “Teal.”
“That’s why it’s the first shot,” Corning said at Satellite Boardshop a day after the film first debuted in Edwards Thursday night. “It’s crazy. It’s one of the gnarliest things that’s done in the entire movie. He deserves that front shot. That’s why it’s there.”
After Homan transports viewers into the “Teal” equivalent of “The Upside Down,” Corning and his gang of riders put forth what’s sure to be one of the most impressive filmmaking feats of the wild year that was 2020. Despite being curtailed by the nature of the COVID-19 world, Corning set a simple standard for “Teal.” It’s one that was perfectly exemplified by the soaring frontside 360 tree-tap and the daring front flip Corning and Windham “Lawndart” Miller executed through a window in a tree located in Duluth, Minnesota.
“It’s a pretty known spot,” the 21-year-old Corning said. “A lot of street riders have gone there a lot. So we wanted to go bigger and do crazier stuff through there. And I think we accomplished that.
“That was pretty much the goal through the entire movie,” Corning continued. “If the spot’s been hit before, you have to do it better. There’s no kind of half doing anything in this movie. Because on such a time crunch, with everything moneywise there are so many factors. The rule was, ‘If you can’t get a shot on this, don’t hit it. If you don’t think it’s going to be good, don’t hit it. It’s got to be the best you can do on this feature, or don’t hit it.’”
That standard is exemplified by Josh Oakes’ snow-skate parts in the flick. Rather than opting for b-roll — a luxury Corning and Havey didn’t have during the filming of “Teal” — they opted for Oakes’ scintillating snow-skate scenes.
The same can be said for Corning and fellow Summit County snowboarder Chase Blackwell’s backcountry booter efforts. It was in Jackson, Wyoming, where Blackwell, one of the United States’ best halfpipe riders, was able to join his fellow Never Summer rider Corning for the “Teal” filmmaking process. About two-thirds of the way into the flick, Havey’s conceptual artistry gives way to the film’s only quote. It comes from Blackwell as he glasses the jump-building effort he, Corning and the rest of the crew put forth in Jackson.
“It’s time to slaughter,” Blackwell says as he looks out on a truly epic 110-foot-long powder jump that Corning said was not only bigger and badder than any jump he’s done in an official big air contest, but one that’s “terrifying.”
“And you had to jump about 50 feet high to clear the tree,” Corning said. “And the jump, it was the biggest jump — the biggest jump that I hit in the entire year. That includes contests and everything. I hit it twice. I was terrified. So scary. I guinea pigged it — so went first — and I back(side) 1080ed (three horizontal rotations) it. Then I was like, ‘I’m done, I’m not doing it again.’”
The Jackson, Wyoming, backcountry booter Corning, Blackwell and the rest of the crew manufactured was bigger, longer and more dangerous than the perfectly snowcat-sculpted jump Corning and other top pro snowboarders hit last year at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia, when Corning achieved his competitive magnum opus to this point in his career with his trademark quad-cork 1800. That jump comprises just a few minutes in the film.
“Teal” is rounded out by other scenes such as Blackwell’s buttery, flowy powder lines in the Jackson backcountry, Corning’s speedy, risky “full-send” daredevil powder lines the length of five football fields in Jackson, and Klein’s encyclopedic knowledge and riding in the streets.
Distributed by Edge TV, Corning is hoping “Teal” will go live on such platforms as Vimeo, Roku, iTunes and other streaming devices come mid-November. After learning the ropes on this debut, the world champion big air and slopestyle rider is grateful for what he and the “Teal” crew was able to accomplish despite all of the challenges the past 10 months have presented. That’s a sentiment Blackwell shares.
“It’s super rad all these kids came to check it out,” Blackwell said. “It’s not your typical skate, skate skate (movie), so it’s cool to show everyone around Boulder that there are multiple things to do around Colorado.”
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