State of the sport: ski movies

Nate Abbott

Johnny DeCesare dressing the part for Poor Boyz' new film "The Grand Bizarre," which is on tour now.

[Editor's note: Freeskiing as a sport is in a state of flux right now. Halfpipe and slopestyle will be in the Olympics in 2014, big-mountain contests are facing major changes, and every aspect of the sport -- from gear to film projects to social media -- are constantly evolving. So here at ESPN Freeskiing, we're taking a hard look at the State of the Sport in this new interview series. First up, ski movies. Stay tuned next Thursday for a story on a gear company that's changing the hardgoods category.]

Johnny DeCesare invented a new genre in ski films when he released his first feature movie, "State of Mind." In the 15 years that have gone by since then, the owner and founder of Poor Boyz Productions — whose new film "The Grand Bizarre" recently won Best Film at the International Freeskiing Film Festival in Montreal — has been living freestyle ski movies every step of the way. Last week, DeCesare used a layover to chat about the ski movie biz and the changes it's undergone.

The first real movie I made was "State of Mind." That came out in '97. It was in Freeze magazine and Micah Abrams, who was Freeze's senior editor commented on it, saying, 'Hold on, people, something big is about to happen.' Then the real movie, that everyone knew about, that everyone saw, was "Degenerates." And that was the movie that pretty much launched Poor Boyz.

To film "Degenerates," I bought one of the original digital video cameras. It was a one chip Sony VX 700. It's from so far back that it still took tapes. I remember thinking, 'I'm going to be at the forefront of a new era!' I think it cost about $3,200 and that was expensive back then.

In the early 2000s, when we first had the backing to splurge on quality, we were shooting just about everything on 16mm film. After you paid for the film and processing, it came out to about a dollar a second, not including what the cameras cost. The movie's like an hour long.

Digital cameras have taken over now. The 5D I think is an awesome camera. And all the brands have something comparable. There are all these crazy new digital cameras and there are new ones coming every day. And the prices are getting more and more manageable.

Young guys who don't have budgets can go out there and have fun with a DSLR camera and create an amazing three-minute piece. And they can put it out on the web for free. A lot of stuff that really impresses me on the web, it's coming from kids I've never heard of. And then our movie has to be better than this kid's three-minute edit.

It's not all cheap though. The new Epic Camera by RED costs 80 grand. It's totally nuts. We don't have our own RED cam. But we do get to use them from time to time. If you saw Simon's halfpipe segment in the new movie, that one was shot on a Cineflex helicopter mounted HD camera, two RED Epics, a RED One, my AF100 and a VX3. That's a lot of cameras, and that's why it looks so cool.

In the beginning, the internet was scary. YouTube came out and people started putting segments online and at the time, I thought that was the worst thing that could happen. We saw it as people stealing our movies. Now that's totally changed. If you look at all the examples of the companies who utilize it best, you see that the internet can only help you.

Look at Sammy's movie. He filmed it in three weeks, maybe a month. But the fact that they did it so fast, and had a good edit, that's crazy. And that shows you the power of the internet: We work all year to put out a movie, and he has a movie out in two months, start to finish.

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