Brice Habeger, a Juneau filmmaker now based in Anchorage, interviewed Justin Hostynek, co-owner of Absinthe Films, about Absinthe’s latest snowboard film, “Twe12ve.” The film will have its local premiere on Wednesday at Centennial Hall.
Habeger: “Twe12ve” will be your 12th release under the Absinthe label. Superstitiously 12 is the end of the world, as well as one away from 13. But in all seriousness, why continue to make films?
Hostynek: “Twel2ve” is my 21st film, the 15th since I started Absinthe Films. They are all just numbers. They can have many meanings if you tap into them or they can be digits that are easily forgotten.
Habeger: You worked with 12 main riders for this film, plus a few others. How did you choose them?
Hostynek: We decided to pare back the number of riders and focus on a smaller group to go deeper with each individual. It’s a risky move, because you never know when injuries will remove the riders that you are counting on to provide the meat. We got very lucky and it worked out.
Habeger: In the film, the shot of Blair Habenicht’s first line is beautifully captured. To me, it’s the crown jewel of the years spent perfecting shots done from cable rigs. What takes a shot to the next level?
Hostynek: I’ve had a number of people tell me that this is their favorite snowboarding shot ever. That’s very encouraging when you are trying to create original and memorable imagery. There is so much competing for our attention, it’s challenging to even conceptualize something that hasn’t already been done. If you can dream it up, pull it off, and get that kind of reaction, it is a rare moment indeed.
Habeger: Can you always plan and prep for a moment like that?
Hostynek: Although this is what I am out there for endless hours trying to make happen, I never count on it because failure is the norm. I have to work hard at staying attached to the original idea, as unattainable as it may seem.
Habeger: Shooting a snowboard film is a production. How does the number of days on the road, the number of film spools loaded, and all the other logistics add up to the grind of making the film?
Hostynek: Comfort is the enemy of creativity. You have to push to get to the next level and I believe that you can’t do this as sustainably from a place of comfort.
Habeger: Camera companies aren’t developing new 16mm or 35mm cameras. How much longer can you shoot on film?
Hostynek: I look at every year as potentially being the last for shooting on film. I savor it like the last bite of a favorite meal. It’s already so expensive that it’s hard to justify continuing with film. But it is one of the things that sets Absinthe apart. It adds to the magic. Everyone else is chasing after the highest resolution and most color saturated image digital can provide. Seems appropriate if you are making a Coke commercial but for me, when I think back on my favorite moments of the season, I see them in my mind’s eye in a way that feels more like film. Maybe that’s just me.
Habeger: But at this point, we could truly be seeing the death of film. What does this mean?
Hostynek: It means that I do have to look seriously at what else there is. There is the possibility to create amazing imagery in a digital medium. There are not many examples I can point to, but one that stands out is the opening credits of the underground surf film “Glass Love” by Andrew Kidman. It is one of the most beautiful things I have seen, and it is shot in a digital medium. So it is possible and that gives me hope.
Habeger: What trends do you currently like in snowboarding?
Hostynek: There has been a lasting trend to focus on having fun. Led by the likes of Nicolas Müller, who has been on a mission to raise the levels of ‘global happiness’ for years. It’s reaching the next generation of young rippers. It infected Jake Blauvelt and a slew of other riders who understand that unless you are having fun with where you are now, it is inevitable to burn yourself out in a short number of years.
Habeger: In the future, do you see yourself putting down your camera because you’ve shot everything snowboarding has to offer?
Hostynek: It is hard to imagine putting down my camera for any other reason then to start editing at the end of the season and picking it up again when the snow starts to fly. Looking back at the early days of my career, I never thought I’d keep going beyond four or five years. After about 10 years it started to feel infinite, like I could do this for the rest of my life. I still feel that way on an inspirational and physical level, but as far as the industry and our audience being able to support this infinitely, we will have to wait and see.
• Brice Habeger is an Alaskan filmmaker and writer.
Know and go
What: Local premiere of Absinthe Films latest release, “Twel2ve”
When: Wednesday, Nov. 2. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall.
Tickets: $10. Proceeds benefit Juneau Watershed Partnership. Available at the door and at the following locations: Sequence Boards,9105 Mendenhall Mall Road, #325; Aurora Projekt, 171 S Franklin St.; Hearthside Books, 254 Front St.
Details: Film showing will include rider appearances, autographs and prizes. Guests:Justin Hostynek, Bode Merrill and JP Solberg.