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Interviews

Crew’d Up – Snackbreak

[Mobile: Tommi Ollikainen. Photo: Matt Georges]

Riding with your crew, pushing each other and having a blast is one of the cornerstones of this fun old experience we call snowboarding. Now, since the democratisation of videography, more and more crews are producing edits from their exploits and some of them have gone beyond the traditional ‘bro-cam’ cuts to produce entertaining, imaginative, or just downright hammer heavy video content. We’re stoked on that, so over the season we’ll be throwing the virtual Shakas to some of our favourite Euro crews, and up this time it’s the panoply of pan-Global homies, Snackbreak. We sat down with OGs Tommi Olllikainen and Joonas Eloranta…

Tell us how the Snackbreak Crew started. Tommi you’re The Captain, maybe you should take this one.

Tommi: It all started in Whistler, B.C, when I moved there in 2013/14, or something like that, and we just started filming with anyone that was down to film basically.

Joonas: I think we go way back, further than that. I had this crew called One Season, Four Reasons, which goes way back to like 2011 I’d say, so that’s when we actually started filming together for the first time. We did two movies I think, can’t remember, but we certainly filmed together for two seasons. That’s how Snackbreak kinda started from that.

Who did you meet out in Whistler that are still part of the Snackbreak crew?

Tommi: Johan Rosen is still around, we haven’t managed to meet up with the other boys like Jesse and Andy [Stewart] but they’ve been filming in Canada anyway. For example this winter when we went to British Columbia, they were all out East and couldn’t make it over. They’re still filming and sending us all the footage

Tommi Ollikainen. Photo: Fredrik Vogt
Tommi Ollikainen. Photo: Fredrik Vogt

What made you want to start filming and making movies? 

Tommi: Yeah, it is more or less for me. I guess when I was 13 or 14 I borrowed my Dad’s old video camera and started filming homies on the hill; did the same thing with skateboarding in spring and summer.

Joonas: We have the same story there, we both picked up our first camera at around 13 or so, and have been involved with skateboarding and snowboarding ever since then. I think it’s natural to have the camera so you can just film your homies and see what you’ve done after the season. We didn’t start making movies until like 2007, then after that first one we probably made a movie every second year. It wasn’t until Snackbreak became a more professional thing that we upped the output.

Your last movie, Honyos, was sick. How do you feel about the next one?

Joonas: It’s going to be a lot better that Honyos.

Tommi: Yeah, it’s definitely a step up from the last one. Everything is better. It feels like we’re better at filming, and I guess we put in more work before the season to find new spots that hadn’t been hit before. We paid attention to finding new ways to hit old spots as well, whereas last season we just basically stayed here and filmed all the famous spots here.

Joonas: We didn’t really have a plan when we produced Honyos because it was just filming each other. We knew we were going to make a full movie but we didn’t plan what kind of a movie it was gonna be. This year it was all different. We knew, even pre-season, that we were going to make a stand out movie with a lot of new spots, a lot of bigger spots and a different approach to how to ride them. We actually had a plan.

[Joonas Eloranta. Photo: Matt Georges]

Who’s been killing it this winter? Is anyone going to have a real breakout part?

Tommi: This guy here. [Points at Joonas]

Joonas: I’ve been pretty hungry, but so have the other boys. I’ve seen some of Johan’s footage from Revelstoke and it’s pretty sick what he’s done in the backcountry. That’s gonna be good for the movie, too. We’ve got a lot of good street clips but he’ll have like a full backcountry part in the middle. A good four or five minutes’ worth of footage.

Tommi. A while back you were telling me about the new movie, how is this one going to be different to Honyos?

Tommi: Yeah, my friend Stay Ice (an artist from Frozen Helsinki) is a really good graphic designer and graffiti artist so we did some pretty weird and fucked up animations together, all hand drawn by him, that we used in between the clips and also on the clips as well. Weird creatures and stuff like that in the film itself. The film is also all black and white. It was pretty funny that we learnt the secrets of animation from scratch… many hours at the computer over the summer but I think it turned out pretty sick, haha!

[Joonas Eloranta. Nosepress. Photo: Fredrik Thorell]

Snackbreak threesome. Photo: Esa Ylijaasko
Street rails, pow and trannies? Tommi, Andy James and Joonas have a Snackbreak threesome. Photo: Esa Ylijaasko

How much time do you actually have to do this stuff? I know you guys have pretty full time jobs at the minute…

Tommi: Not much, I have the video production company, Snackbreak, I go to Uni and try to play in a band. I’m pretty busy, no free time.

Joonas: I just work on Mondays and Tuesdays so I have heaps of time to snowboard and do other stuff. It’s worked out so well somehow. I have enough money to get by and loads of free time to do what I want. Best of both, time to snowboard and the chance to do some meaningful work.

Does Snackbreak help to pay the bills at all?

Tommi: We managed to make a few dollars with the film in the end. Shout out to Yuki Threads, Powderpak Parks and Boardbutter Glidewax for getting onboard and helping out paying some expenses! We also had a proper premiere tour for the film as well and made some money that way. Can’t say we are getting rich by doing this though, haha, especially when remembering the few thousand work hours this movie took from the crew. It’s all worth it though, it’s a lot of fun creating something unique and learning new skills at the same time.

Johan Rosen. Photo: Caitlin Shaw
Does your social media manager rip this hard? Doubt it. Johan Rosen fires out of a BC drop. Photo: Caitlin Shaw

Who inspired you when you were younger? Which crews or movie productions where you looking at?

Tommi: Videograss was the first. Those first movies really got me into filming snowboarding.

Joonas: For sure, they’re still one of the biggest influences on us. Every year that come out with such a good movie.

Tommi: Before that probably the Mack Dawg movies, but they never really got me as stoked as Videograss.

Joonas: That’s true, I never wanted to be the next Heikki Sorsa or Eero Ettala – it was sick riding and filmed so well, but you couldn’t really relate to that. When Videograss came we had all started riding more rails so it was more relatable, there was something we could watch and then actually try the trick.

Tommi: All the Videograss movies have such a sick feeling. They are so raw, all the soundtracks are awesome.

Joonas: We all started out with the Euro Gap movies and the Robot Food movies, it was good to start off with those because they’re all about having fun.

Have you guys made any plans for next winter or are you just focussed on getting the current movie finished?

Joonas: We have a pretty good idea about next winter. We want to produce a ‘Sunday In The Park’ type of web series for Finland with the Finnish snowboarding association. Make a really good, international level riding, series of edits with different ski resorts and try and make some money from that too by selling it to other ski resorts that have a good park and want us to come there. That would be a nice way to actually make some money and get by the whole season through filming. There’s not really anything else like that in Finland. Laax has The Crap Show, but that’s pretty much it.

Tommi: These edits will have core Snackbreak riders in them but we will also feature some local heroes and probably a few riders from the Finnish National Team, as we are doing the series in co-operation with the Finnish Snowboard Association. The idea is to showcase the very best of Finnish snowboarding. This will work around snowboarding because we’ll get paid for filming and visiting new places but at the same time we can afford to film a new Snackbreak movie in the streets.

Joonas: It would be nice to actually make a living off making snowboarding edits. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Tommi: The money is pretty tight in snowboarding at the moment so it makes sense to try and get it from the resorts. We gotta get some money from somewhere else.

What one piece of advice would you give to a crew just starting out?

Tommi: The planning we did this season helped so much. Just have an idea of what you want to do when you start, don’t make it up as you go along. Don’t just go to a random new city to try and get clips. Make a plan to hit spots.

Joonas: You’ve always got to be hunting for new spots, either on your bike or in a car… whatever. Just look around and plan it out. Practice new tricks that no one has done. I don’t think every crew in snowboarding should always be trying to reinvent everything, or trying to come up with something new because it just puts too much pressure on you. It takes away from the feeling of snowboarding because you’re always trying to create something new. If you want to film just trust your instinct and do the tricks that you like doing and trust that you can make them look cool. Believe in your own product.

[Johan Rosen. Cab 1 wallride. Photo: Fredrik Thorell]

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