First Friday: Snowboard legend Lukas Huffman on the view from the director’s chair

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

Hearing the name Lukas Huffman, our minds instantly jump to the slew of hammer snowboarding films— Kingpin Productions’ “Happy Hour” being one prime example— that have featured Huffman hucking aerials that will never fail to make your jaw drop. These days, with a film degree from Columbia in his back pocket, Huffman has un-strapped and stepped behind the camera.

Growing up on a diet of snowboard videos, Huffman got hooked on film early on, and attributes his fast-paced sequence style to the vibrancy and action inherent in the art of riding. He has, in fact, created snowboarding videos of his own: flashback to 2006, when Huffman unveiled a double threat in the form of “ir77,” which employs a combination book/film in an effort to convey the raw energy and passion infused into snowboarding.

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b/s 180 way up north—Huffman, true to his roots | P: Teddy Treats

Most recently, Huffman has taken on the role of both writer and director, as he is currently filming his own independent film, “When the Ocean Met the Sky.” The film is a departure from the snowboarding world, as it documents the trials and successes of three brothers as they journey through the mountains of British Columbia, but Huffman’s creative roots can clearly be traced back to his days of professional snowboarding.

Day Two of filming | P: "When the Ocean Met the Sky"

Day Two of filming | P: Geoff Webb

Indeed, he finds many similarities between the process of filming “When the ocean met the sky,” and filming snowboarding. In case further links are needed, one can point to the fact that Mark Sollors, of ridiculously-impressive-snowboarding fame, is the film’s Executive Producer.

For now, Huffman’s attentions are solely dedicated to breathing life into his new film, and so we sat down with him in order to gain some insight as to what this new venture is all about:

What inspired you to bring this story to life?
There were many things that inspired me to put so much time and attention into this project. Mainly it was the opportunity to make a film that has great humor in it, and very rich, real, emotionally dramatic moments. There are not many films that attempt to mix the comedy and drama genres like we are doing. Also, the cast involved is amazing. To work with my friends – who are talented actors – is the dream situation. Then, there was the story itself, which is about brotherhood. The characters are people that I personally connect with, as a guy with three brothers. There have been lots of ‘family’ or ‘brother’ films made, but I was really keen to work on one that has such a good combination of jokes and dark moments. I think this balance of experience better represents how life really is – ups and downs.

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Sharp image from the RED camera test | P: Geoff Webb

Did filming snowboard films influence your choice to study film at Columbia?
Indirectly, yes. I grew up watching A LOT of snowboard films, and I ended up making one myself (ir77), so I’ve always been stoked on film. However, my choice to go to Columbia was from my interest in more narrative based filmmaking, rather than just action filmmaking, like snowboard videos. But all my years of being in, and making snowboard films does seem to effect my narrative filmmaking style, as I make very fast moving, ‘exciting’ film sequences.

How does filming snowboarding compare to filming a film like this? Are there similarities?
There are many similarities in the production: right now we are spending long days up in the woods, carrying camera gear around, and getting shots – which is very similar to snowboard filmmaking. But, the big difference is in how you make a narrative film. In narrative film, you have very specific images that you produce to tell the story. It’s like the film is already edited in your head, then you go out and shoot those images. Snowboard filmmaking is more like documentary filmmaking, where you go out and film as much as you can, and then create moments in the edit.

Huffman on set and  in action.

Huffman on set and  in action. | P: Geoff Webb

How did Mark Sollors get involved with the project?
Mark is an old friend of Phillip Thomas, who wrote this film with myself and Spencer Folley. Phillp is also producing the film and is one of the lead actors! Phil and I talked with Mark to see if he wanted to help produce, and Mark is really keen to learn about film production, so he came onboard. It’s been really cool to see snowboarders such as myself with interests outside the sport.

How did snowboarding help push your artistic side?
The snowboard industry is really visual, so it attracts lots of creative people. Snowboard advertising is visual, snowboard films are super creative, and graphics are such an important part of snowboarding. There’s lots of room in snowboarding for creative people to express themselves visually. I have benefitted from that room to try creative projects, and this has helped give me confidence to express myself publicly.

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Pillow Lines in Whistler | P: Scott Serfas

Do you still snowboard?
Yes, of course. I still love it. Living in Brooklyn doesn’t allow me to get up to the mountains very often, but I get to Vermont at least once a month in the winter, and then I’ll do a two week trip out west every year for my powder fix.

Where are your favorite spots to ride?
Japan has delivered some of the most fun days in recent history. The snow was so deep, it’s easy lift access, the whole day is just a blast and you get a lot of runs in.

How has snowboarding changed for you now that it’s not your “job”?
Nice… There’s pros and cons to that. The cons are that you don’t ride as much epic terrain on a day to day basis. When you’re pro, you spend a lot of time in the best snow conditions, on the best terrain in the world. However, the cool part about not being a professional is that you get the enjoy the experience of snowboarding in a less stressful way. Like, when you’re a pro, there’s always a little voice in your head telling you to be productive in the mountains. Now if the weather is bad, I don’t care, I get to enjoy the experience 100%.

Would you ever make a snowboard film?
I actually do make a little snowboard film in every Snow Craft episode that I produce with my brother, Jesse Huffman. They are so much fun to produce, as we just go out – ride, and interact with interesting snowboard characters.

Huffman and crew are busy making “When the Ocean Met the Sky” — and they need your help! Check out their Kickstarter Campaign and help them bring this film to life!