Why Canada’s Finest Are ‘Seeking Nirvana’

And why we can't get enough of the quirkiest web series of 2016

The edits have been flying fast and furious this season, but one series stands out from the rest. With its third release, “The Lucky Strike” dropping this week, Seeking Nirvana is the brainchild of Canadian freeskiers Riley Leboe, Joe Schuster, Mike Henitiuk, and Matt Margetts and brings a cinematic flare into the world of powder porn. We’ve already waxed poetic about the Wes Anderson appeal of these off-beat edits, but Seeking Nirvana also features some pretty legit big mountain skiing around British Columbia. It’s just enough to send our ‘Like’ button reaction into overdrive and make us a little bummed that our 2016 season is winding down.

We caught up with Leboe this week to get a behind-the-scenes look at the new series and whether or not the Seeking Nirvana crew is around to stay. Here’s what he had to say.

POWDER: Why did you guys decide to join forces for ‘Seeking Nirvana’?
Riley: Joe, Mike, Matt and I have been friends and skied together since we were 12 or 13. We’ve been talking about doing a project together for quite a few years.

It happened that everyones schedules lined up for this season and we jumped on an opportunity to do our own thing. We put in a ton of effort to get the support we needed to make Seeking Nirvana happen and ended up making it a reality. We wanted to do something creative and see some of our own ideas put to work.

What were you guys trying to accomplish with Seeking Nirvana? Was there a gap you were trying to fill?
We wanted to try something a bit unique in the ski film world. The goal was to put out high quality short films in a really quick timeframe. Filming for so many years, you have to wait until the fall to see what comes out in the films. Even most web series hold their footage until the following season. We wanted to challenge ourselves to put everything out right away. So anyone watching is seeing footage that we shot literally a week ago. By putting everything out quickly, you can actually follow our season and see how everything plays out.

It was pretty stressful at times working on such a tight schedule but made it all the more enjoyable once the episode released. We wanted to tie in some story telling with it as well, lighthearted themes that we thought showed how we feel about skiing and spending time in the mountains. We wanted it to be relatable, themes that everyone can enjoy and feel some connection to. It’s a lot of fun out there and we wanted to share that.

The 'Seeking Nirvana' crew found a lot of what it was looking for this winter. PHOTO: Seeking Nirvana
The ‘Seeking Nirvana’ crew found a lot of what it was looking for this winter. PHOTO: Seeking Nirvana

The series definitely has a cinematic feel to it, where were you guys drawing inspiration from?
We’ve drawn inspiration from a number of places, including Wes Anderson. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and the quirky, funny shots seemed to work well for us. We wanted the series to have a lighthearted fun feel and it seemed fit our style.

Classic surf movies [played a part] as well. We wanted it to feel quite cinematic, so we really pushed ourselves to stick with a vision and make sure everything fit together as a whole.

Leigh Powis, our editor, has helped out huge with this, making sure we had our bases covered and letting us know if we needed to add elements to better tell the story. His editing has really tied the whole thing together. Our cinematographer Taylor Laughran and aerial cinematographer Dylan Ross have been absolutely killing it for us as well. We got lucky with our team.

Are there any more episodes planned for this season? Are you guys going to keep this going into next year?
With summer just around the corner, “The Lucky Strike” will be the final for this winter. We have one planned for release this fall, sometime around premiere season, to hopefully bring people out and get stoked for the winter.

We’re keeping the search alive in the Southern Hemisphere this summer. So if things pan out we will produce another episode from down south. We’re definitely going to keep it going for next season. It’s been the funnest [sic] ski season I’ve ever had, skiing with friends and making some really fun films. We’ve been nervous putting each one out because with something new, it’s tough to know how they will be received. It’s been really rewarding to see people pumped on the series and we want to keep that going!