Last night, the Inspired Media crew took over the Lido Theater in Newport Beach, California, for the world premiere of The Education of Style. The Southern California ski contingency from Armada, Oakley, Skull Candy, and POWDER were in attendance, as well as a good showing of displaced SoCal skiers.
After a gathering outside and a poster signing, Inspired Media leader Eric Iberg, and skiers Tanner Hall, Phil Casabon, and Henrik Harlaut took the stage to introduce their latest project. Originally meant to be a four-skier film (Paul Bergeron was injured earlier in the 2011-12 season), Hall stated on the mic his skiing in the movie was some of his best, and pointed out early that Harlaut's segment would be nothing short of mind blowing. After a few thank yous to sponsors, friends, family, and Mickael Descheneaux—who was in attendance and Hall described as being one of the most underappreciated style skiers of all time—the lights dimmed and the film began.
The intro to the film featured a fun testament to old school hip hop music videos, which led into Casabon's opening segment. The part can be compared to a Ken Kesey, acid-induced dream. Or more literally, it's a mushroom-taking journey. The segment features cuts of a dilated-pupiled Casabon fictionally tripping his balls off in the woods. The RZA-sound compliments all the nollie, ski-flexing trickery the Quebecois is known for, and Casabon’s nose-buttered backcountry hits are certainly a highlight. The segment happens fast and is edited with a shit-ton of effects—from out-of-focus zooms in and out, color inversions, and enough filters to make an Instagram account have a heart attack—that make it one of the more unique segments put out in recent years.
Following B-Dog was Hall's part, which is a great improvement from his Retallack – The Movie showing a year ago. If Hall is proving anything, it's that the road to recovery is a long and tumultuous one. Hall admitted in his introduction that he's still dealing with a bit of pain, but quoted Daniel R. Evans, saying, "Pain is weakness leaving the body." His return to the urban scene is a welcomed one, and Hall is keeping step with his younger counterparts in the film. If and when the pain is finally gone for Hall, watch out. The lion will be back.
Next was a friend's part that felt like more of an appreciation of style segment. Tanner Rainville, Bergeron, Parker White, Sean Field, Sammy Carlson and Liam Downey and others have brief one or two shot cameos that break up the movie nicely.
Rounding out the film with a Belly-inspired intro that was too good for words, Henrik Harlaut made a strong case that he's one of, if not the, best park and street skier today. Set to Nas, Harlaut's part is worth the $10 digital download price alone. With tranny-driven madness that left many in the audience asking, "How the hell did he do that?", E-Dollo keeps the flow with his skiing like a well-versed MC, never stuttering or stopping. Capped off with a few tricks that I won't spoil in this space and a shout out from Redman, Harlaut may have a few Powder Awards Nominations coming his way in the Best Jib and Best Manmade Air categories.
When the lights flicked back up and the applause wore down, what struck me was how the three, along with Iberg and the rest of the Inspired Crew, set off to do projects on their own. Their goal was to have full control of how their skiing was filmed, edited, and released. What they cannot control, however, is how it will be perceived. There's no doubt this film will see its detractors for its hip hop and reggae soundtrack, unconventional style of editing and filming. And yet, with The Education of Style, which I feel comes off more as a mixtape than a ski movie, Casabon, Harlaut, and Hall reaffirm that their individual styles are just that. Furthermore, this film is a testament that in today's ski film landscape there are many routes to the top.
The Education of Style is available for digital download at InspiredMedia.tv.