Camping Chaos, Location: Stryn, Norway, Photo: Fredrik Evensen
Everyone should agree when I say snowboarding is too mainstream now. Video productions with billionaire budget, pro hosted at hollywood vip parties, fashion heavily involved in the whole movement. But there is still a good part of it: it’s called fun. Fun is the sticker that gathers riders and made ’em desire to reach the mountains with their buddies to ride, improve, laugh and have a good time. Fun is the only thing that really doesn’t shine if you check the latest videos, mags and general media. You can see obiviously competition, commitment, style, trend rules and hot spots but no more fun traces. This crew from Germany simple films theirself having a good time snowboarding: luckily they’re funny, good at snowboarding and filming passionates. Another good thing of Vincent and Co. is the continue aim to imrove. All those qualities brought this crew of bavarian guys from being a simple group of friend to a world recognized and respected crew of pro riders, that travel the world in search of the best snow condition, the latest original feature and guilty of producing yearly the best damn fun snowboard video around. I picked some of them (Vincent Urban, Alex Schiller and Tobi Strauss) while camping and riding early summer snow out in Norway…This is what came out.
Hello guys, first of all who really are ISENSEVEN? What does ISENSEVEN mean, really?
Alex: Isenseven is a crew of friends, a movie production, a clothing label, a party, a lifestyle, your brother, your sister, your friend and your pet. Back in 1999 we were seven friends that loved to ride and we all lived in the small town by Munich called Isen. It´s that easy.
Most of the original crew quit snowboarding to pursue different careers. Vincent and I continued to raise Isenseven to what it is today and on our path we met tons of riders and people that became a part of everything.
Vincent: The production crew of Isenseven would be Alex Schiller, Felix Urbauer and me with a little help of Simon “Donkey” Schöllhorn, and there are about 20 snowboarders being part of the crew right now. But there’s way more than that – closest friends, photographers, party organizers and you maybe. It’s lobbyism at it’s best.
Michi Zirngibl, Location: New York
Why your videos are everytime so damn fun? Is fun the key of everything?
Alex: I guess it´s the mix we bring into the films. The combination of fun and creative tricks on interesting spots, good riding level, the camera work, the riders personalities and the intro´s make the movie into a complete package anyone can enjoy and people can relate to. That´s what makes it fun.
Vincent: If you’re portraying something that’s fun, it’s rather hard to make it look like no fun. Sometimes, I really wonder how some productions out there are capable of making snowboarding look like exhausting hard and dangerous work. Or even worse – a boring waste of time. It’s nothing like that.
Fredrik Evensen & Michi Zirngibl, Backflip & Frontside Slash, Location: Stryn, Norway, Photo: Simon “Esel” Schöllhorn
We lost your first production but since well we appreciated your films, absolutely hi quality compared to many others and very innovative. where are you heading for with new upcoming Teenage Love Graffiti? Where this original title come from?
Alex: Teenage Love Graffiti is our seventh film so far and we want to fill it up with our best ideas. But it´s supposed to be a surprise so I won´t tell too much. The title TLG came from our colleague Felix Urbauer. Before he started working with us, he was planning to make a movie with the title Teenage Love Graffiti. But at that time he joined the crew and ended up making Übermovie with us. He told us about the title he was intending to use for his movie, so we decided to use it for our new film. The title means: absolutely nothing. It just sounds cool. Feel free to interpret anything you want into the title.
Vincent: With TLG we’re not heading anywhere else where we headed with the other videos. We just want to have even more focus on production quality, graphics and editing. The movie should be entertaining – for core snowboarders and film lovers.
Peter König & Torgeir Berre, Location: Ramundberget, Sweden
We noticed you spend so much energy and time realizing tricky intros, do you think the intro is a good slice of the entire videopart?
Alex: We were never a big fan of snowboard flicks that had just a face shot of the rider and then one trick after another in their part. The intro´s give us the chance to bring different aspects of movie making into the film besides the standard snowboard video editing techniques. It gives us more space to be creative and it´s a great chance to use ideas we have and display the riders personality. And in addition it makes the movie accessible to a wider audience. These are movies we can show friends that don´t snowboard and our parents and they´ll be stoked. Although I hope my parents don´t watch the party footage in the extras on the dvd.
Tobi: I think, the intro is very important for a good videopart, it makes the part more vivid. When I joined the crew those funny innovative story telling intros where already a big part in the Isenseven movies. I really like this on our movies, the intros are often connected to the lyrics of the chosen riders-part music and show our interpretation of their message. Sometimes they describe a persons character, live situations, interests or just funny stupid stories and connect them with snowboarding. Isenseven is individual and so are the intros.
Fredrik Evensen, Sw Bs 180, Location: Stryn, Norway, Photo: Simon “Esel” Schöllhorn
What changed since your first filming experience?
Tobi: The funny thing is, nothing really changed. On my first 2 meter rainbow rail I shooted with Vincent and Alex 6 years ago at the legendary GAP1328 Summercamp I had the same damn fun I have shooting today on a 35 stair double kinked ledge in Burlington. Without any stress and pressure, having just a fun session. I wasn’t filming with anybody else before, Isenseven was the first movie production I had the chance to film with and I am so stoked to still film with Isenseven. I think I am on the point to say now that I don’t want to do anything else until the end of my snowboarding carreer than filming with those guys. That’s what makes me happy!
Vincent: For us, the production crew, a lot of things changed. Instead of just pointing a handycam as small as an apple randomly on some snowboard action, we now work with a lot of high-tec gear, actually thinking about light settings, staging scenes, flying around with helis or building up cranes. It takes a lot more concentration and hard work but we try our best that this doesn’t get to the riders. They should just ride and have a good time like it was back in the days.
Vincent Urban, Location: Folgefonna, Norway, Photo: Fredrik Evensen
How came out the idea of making a crew video and then continue year after year? Many production out there now have a quite short life. Is really so stressful?
Vincent: There’s not really a greater idea behind that. We did our first movies because it was plain fun. Then suddenly there were people watching it and we thought, wow, we actually did quite OK. And as soon as sponsors hopped on board to support the whole thing giving us the chance to continue, we just said this should be it. We would have been stupid to not take advantage out of this opportunity. And now, riders, sponsors and viewers count on us. We can’t just say, we’re doing porn movies now because we like to. Crews don’t quit because of stress. They quit because of a lack of support.
Did you guys make a living out of it?
Vincent: Yes, we did. But to fully cover all the expenses we have, we have to do some random small jobs in between the snowboard shootings.
Simon “Esel” Schöllhorn, Location: Stryn, Norway, Photo: Fredrik Evensen
Someone say that snowboarding is slowly dying; many production are moving to a hybrid snowboard-freeski audience. Will Isen seven continue being pure snowboarding forever or are you introducing some double decked riders, too?
Alex: We don´t plan to make a snowboard-freeski video. We want to focus on the tight crew of riders we have (which are ofcourse snowboarders). We are planning on doing some more stuff in the skateboard area though. I personally don´t think that a 50/50 hybrid snow & skate movie would work, but there are different projects we want to persue in the future. I really would like to make a hybrid monoski/country western movie, but I´m having trouble finding riders/cowboys.
Vincent: Noone would let a soccer team play with a rugby team just because they both play on grass. Skiing and snowboarding are just two different sports which look quite alike for a wide audience. I think you can rather mix something more different than those two, as people would always tend to compare although that’s just not possible. Other than that, I just not a big fan of skiing or rollerblading. I rather stick with the boards.
Ludwig Lejkner & Fredrik Evensen, Location: Stryn, Norway, Photo: Simon “Esel” Schöllhorn
Talking about tecniques, some producers believe that the next step after digital filming is 16 mm; we personally believe that digital is the future, what do you think about that?
Vincent: We wouldn’t even film 16mm. I consider that as a waste of money. I can understand real filmmakers that want to have this characteristic look of analog film, but in my opinion, there’s no need for that in snowboarding. Digi HD already does look better then most 16 and will even more in future. Same as within the photography a couple years ago. It just won’t take long.
Tobi Strauss, Location: Dillon, CO, Photo: Chip Kalback
We heard the injury list has been quite long this last season: what happened to isen main riders?
Tobi: That’s true. We didn’t had to much luck the seasons before too, but this seasons injury list is incredible. We had 5 riders with torn ACL’s who couldn’t film all season and a couple of broken wrists and arms. That list included our newest additions Christian Haller and Werni Stock who unluckily didn’t had the chance to enjoy there debut.
Are you presenting new riders with Teenage Love Graffiti?
Alex: We have a few new guys on board. We managed to recruit the Norwegian shred Torgeir Berre into our crew and he fits with us like the lost brother we´ve always been searching for…..sometimes the little brother you wished you never had. But in a good way of course. Finally we have a finnish rider in the team. So if you see a guy with a mustache and tight pants: that´s Joonas Mustonen.
Ethan Morgan is representing the youngbloods in our crew. It´s cool to have a rookie in the team. They´ll do anything you tell them to.
Tell us what do you think about the actual “only fun snowboard video” trend? We’re talking about small feature riding, easy tricking on boxes and stuff like that..
Tobi: I think it’s important for a good video part to have funny small stuff inbetween your hard banger tricks, it makes the whole thing more exciting and interesting. It’s sometimes even more difficult to film and ride this obstacles because you need to be very creative to make this “easy”stuff look good. Despite that, we also want to show our holiday-snowboarder audience that no matter how small and stupid a mini-jib looks like, everybody can have fun in snowboarding with a little imagination. Just give it a shot! We want to motivate those people who don’t have the opportunities to ride more than a few weeks in the season or don’t have a big mountain in front of their door. We want to show them how to have fun with your snowboard everywhere, on the mountian, in the city beside the streets or in your backjard without having the skills or opportunities to jump a 25 meter jump.
Travis Limoge, Torgeir Berre & Ludwig Lejkner, Location: Dillon, CO, Photo: Chip Kalback
5 colleagues you deeply respect?
Alex: It´s hard to specifically say 5 people that you respect. We love and respect all our riders for the hard work they put into their videoparts and for the great times we spend with them. And all the people that help make our movies possible are just as much a part of that list.
Tobi: I respect Hanna Montana.
Vincent: Who the fuck is Hanna Montana?
Torgeir Berre, Noseblock, Location: Montezuma, CO, Photo: Will Bremridge
Future collaborations with film or snowboard crews?
Vincent: Not that we planned any yet. But who knows? I’d love to do some co-op with some big-ass filmmaker outside of snowboarding. That should be very exciting.
Are you working fulltime for Isen seven video or are you involved in other projects inside or outside snowboarding?
Vincent: As Alex already mentioned before, we are doing in some skateboard filming this summer. We already been on a trip to Berlin and will have another one to New York in a week. It’s tough to gain the skateboarders respect as people coming from snowboarding but we work on it. You’ll get to see something soon. Next to that, we might get involved in some club/fashion and music projects in near future. But all that goes hand in hand with snowboarding and it’s lifestyle.
Chris Patsch, Location: Sugarbush, VT, Photo: Thomas “Creager” Stöckli
Thank you very much guys, we can’t wait to see Teenage Love Graffiti. Do you want to thank or say hi to anyone?
Tobi: I want to thank all our fans and viewers in Italy and everywhere else. You make this whole thing happen. Thank you!
Vincent: He just summed it up. Thanks for the interview!