StokeLab Art Director Randy Elles caught up with AJ Dakoulas of the 4Bi9 crew recently to get the lowdown on the film All Damn Day, slated to drop in August 2013. We had to learn more after scoping the trailer this spring—truly mind-blowing stuff if you haven't seen it yet. You can watch the trailer above, read the interview below, and see some behind-the-scenes photos from their adventures as well.
Q. Can you give us some background on 4BI9 and the crew? How long have you been filming together?
Andrew Napier and myself initially created 4BI9 about seven years ago back when we both lived in Vermont. It didn’t really start out as anything serious but rather was just a group of friends going out and skiing whenever possible and pointing a camera at some of it from time to time.
The next fall a few of us moved out to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah where we ended up meeting a lot of the rest of that early crew (Steve Stepp, Tom Wallisch, Rich Fahey, Kyle Lukacs to name a few.) I would say that is the initial roots of everything… Since that point we have just been trying to make the most of our winters with good friends.
Q. After viewing the All Damn Day trailer I must say, it's probably the ski/shred film I am looking forward to most this fall. Are you going to have any premiers or will this film go straight to download?
Our plans are to get this film out for a mid-late August release through a digital download platform as well as to have hard copies available for purchase off our website. We also plan to arrange a bit of a premiere tour over the course of the fall … this will end up taking place after the movie is available through our website.
Q. The crash in the opening scene of the All Damn Day trailer looks horrific, any trips to the ER?
That was definitely one of the harder crashes I have seen in a long time; fortunately nothing serious came about from that. Will was a bit shaken up but he actually ended up going out later that night to hit another feature.
In terms of injuries, everyone seemed to make out well, which is great to hear considering the risks involved with putting together a segment. There were plenty of times where people took hits that had them take a step back and chill for a few days … going at it nonstop in the streets will put a hurting on the body. I believe the only time over the course of the year where a trip to the ER was needed came at the very end of the year in Mt. Hood when Jake (Doan) busted up his shoulder.
Q. From the trailer it looks like you've got some pretty serious talent in terms of athletes—did anyone really blow your mind on the hill this year?
There were a lot of people this year that really stepped up and committed to putting together banger segments and try to take things up a notch, so it is hard to pick out just a couple individuals.
With that being said, I think Karl Fostvedt is really going to turn some heads with everything that he did this past season. He really got out there and did some super impressive stuff both in the backcountry and out in the streets; one thing that I think will really stand out with his segment is how many different shots he has on just one feature. Usually when going out and building a feature you go in with no real expectations and your hyped if you get one or two shots out it … there were a few instances with Karl where he would just keep going and going on a feature without really falling and ending up leaving with 5+ shots.
Dale Talkington also really got after it this year as can be seen in the recent release of his Teton Gravity Co-Lab contest entry. It's kind of funny because there is still quite a bit of stuff that we couldn’t fit into the 5-minute limit, that didn’t quite fit in with theme of the video and take precedence over the other shots, so his segment will definitely have a good bit of distinction and variety from what people have seen already.
Other guys like Ware, McChesney, Kutcher, and Collins to name a few also have some really cool stuff that I think people will be hyped on. All in all, I am very excited to wrap up the post-production on this film and get it out there. I think people will be quite impressed with everyone involved.
Q. I know AJ grew up on the East Coast, so when I saw Vermont listed as a film location I was stoked to see more. Would you mind sharing with us a little bit more about some of the unique locations you spotted and filmed at for All Damn Day?
In terms of actual geographic locations this movie is primarily based out of a few different locales, primarily Salt Lake. We ended up getting a really good snow year here in the city (I am pretty sure there was two feet-plus of snow in the city from the months of January to the middle of March), which allowed us to not have to travel very often.
Since we have been filming here heavily for the past six years, it has gotten a bit trick to track down new spots. But if there is enough snow on the ground and people are willing to commit more time to bigger builds you can start finding some of that bigger or more creative stuff that usually isn’t possible, and that’s pretty much what happened this year.
There were a couple trips over the course of the year though. Earlier in the season a bit of time was spent shooting both urban and backcountry up in Idaho. Around the New Year, Dale and Napes were back on the East Coast and there was quite a bit of snow so they spent a good bit of time in the Burlington area trying to track down some new features.
Q. The soundtrack for the trailer really sets All Damn Day apart from other trailers I've seen recently. Tell us a little more about your song selection process.
We don’t really have any set process when it comes to picking the soundtrack. Many times a song that we are feeling will just turn up and we run with it, which happened in the case of this past trailer. We definitely like to try to vary it a bit from what we have used in the past.
If we need to track down a song in a short period of time, we will try to establish the mood and feel of that particular segment first, and then start searching for music that falls into that spectrum. With that being said, there really isn’t any simple process for choosing music. I would say it is one of the most difficult parts of making a movie and really does hold a lot weight on the final outcome of the film.
Q. Your recent films have a very polished yet distinct look and feel to them. What's the secret?
Thanks! Andrew and I have been making ski movies for seven years now, and have been making random little videos for who even knows how much longer, so I think that experience over the years has helped us learn a lot. Also, since we have started making movies Andrew and I have both felt that is important to try to distinguish our videos from everything else that is out there. I would say that initially came about due to the fact that we were just a bunch of random kids with a camera going out and filming with our friends. To provide something a bit more than your standard ski edit we would try to get creative with how it was put together.
Q. Are you inspired by other filmmakers or photographers?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t necessarily say there is one particular individual that I always look towards, or one specific genre, but seeing any piece of work that I enjoy definitely helps get me motivated to go and create something of my own, as well as helps out in the getting some ideas rolling.
Q. For the gear heads out there: what kind of equipment did you use to shoot All Damn Day?
The movie is primarily shot on Canon 7D’s and the Sony FS100 and 700. For stabilization, there was a good bit of use of glidecams as they can bring some interesting motion into your shots that can give that extra depth to the environment. We also used various jib arms, dollies, and sliders.
Q. We heard you were out at Mt. Hood recently shooting?
Yea, we spent a large portion of the month of May wrapping up shooting for the upcoming film. A pretty large part of the crew was already out there for the West Coast Session so we decided to rent a house in Hood for a few weeks following that event. It was good to be able to chill out with most of the people involved and really get an idea of what we wanted to do with the movie, as well as try to add in a little bit more footage from up on the mountain. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite as nice as we were hoping, but we were still able to make the most of the nicer days on hill.
Q. Looking ahead, do you guys have any fun trips planned for next season? And if money wasn't a factor, where would your dream ski trip take you?
We don’t really have anything planned out at the moment for the upcoming season. A few potential ideas but at this point we are working on dialing in this year’s movie. It’s also hard to really plan that far ahead since so much is dependent upon weather and snowfall, so we are really just going to leave it open till the winter rolls around.
As far a dream ski trip, I would say visiting the British Columbia area to do some sledding around and shoot some backcountry would be awesome. The terrain there is expansive and pretty much seems endless and the surroundings look amazing. It is also hard to leave urban shooting out of the equation. There’s nothing quite like heading to some random city with a group of your close friends to go and explore. Not sure which city though … maybe somewhere in Europe. I’m sure that sounds pretty crazy but shooting urban really is a great time.
Q. Any shout-outs to your sponsors, friends, and family?
Definitely would like to give a shout out to all of the companies that supported us with this movie and all of our movies in the past. All of the athletes, our families, and everyone else who has helped us out in the past. And of course all of the people that buy our movies. It's awesome to know that some people are interested in seeing what we put our effort into over the winter.
All Damn Day trailer and behind-the-scenes photography by 4Bi9 + Interview by Randy Elles