Back in the days, Paavo Tikkanen and Joni Malmi were the two masterminds behind the phenomenally successful Euro Gap 1 and 2 movies. And it was apparently during a game of hockey that Joni and Finnish filmmaker Jaakko Itäaho decided on the making of Euro Gap 3. We sat down with Malmi on a trip to the southern alps to get some background on the originals and what we can expect of the new installment. Read on to find out why they did it and what the difference between old and new will be...
We are in Nice right now. How come?
Yeah, not every day you get to come here, but we had a chance to hit a kicker with one of the famous skier guys, Jon Olsson from Sweden. Because we are travelling with the Swedish crew Hampus Mosesson and Chris Sörman right now. Those guys are good friends, and Jon had told them that the had a pretty good kicker lined up. He sent us some photos and it looked really good. We decided since there is no powder and we’re in Europe we drive down to Monaco.
About ten years ago you worked on the Euro Gap movies. From my understanding this new project is supposed to be in the same spirit of the old ones...
Exactly. Ten years back me and my good friend Paavo Tikkanen had been snowboarding for quite a while, were travelling a lot, and we bought some video cameras just to record everything that happens on the trips. We got so much material that we ended up making a couple of half an hour films about it. They were called Euro Gap 1 and 2. A lot of our friends gave footage for that, too. They ended up becoming some sort of cult movies – at least in Finland.
Was that the idea behind them: Showing the fun of it? Or what point were you trying to make?
There was no point. I guess that was the point that there was no point. There was no real storyline behind it. It was quite random footage. Just some stuff behind the scenes, funny stuff. But we had some really good riding shots, too. I think that even after ten years the films are still good fun to watch. You can’t have any expectations about what’s happening next. That’s what I’m trying to bring into this new film, too. There’s something that you won’t expect right away. Not the usual format of a snowboard movie, part after part.
Do you think that was the main reason the old films became something like cult classics?
I think so. It differed a lot from the normal format. It was mainly clips of us travelling around and doing crazy stuff. Things you did not expect, and I think people liked that kind of stuff.
So you released these two short films and then called it a day. Why did it take you so long to come back to that idea?
Obviously I was filming with Forum and Mack Dawg. All those films take a lot of energy to make. It takes a lot of energy to pull a good movie part together. My own filming on the side got harder and harder as the productions became bigger and bigger. I wanted it to be fun for myself and the other people. It became too professional, and I called it quits. I just concentrated on the ‘real’ movies.
Now on to a more sensitive topic: You have been let go by your long-time sponsors Forum and Special Blend. Does this play a role, too, now that you have more time to do other stuff?
Oh yeah, they were like ‘Alright we can’t offer you anything good anymore’. And I was wondering what I was going to do this winter. Then I met Jaakko Itäaho, who is filming for the movie. Jaakko and me are really good friends. First he came to me and was like ‘Shit, I don’t know what to do.’ He had been in a project that he wasn’t that stoked on before, and when we met he was kind of a free agent. He actually told me that we should make a new Euro Gap. And I thought yeah that’s really good! And first we wanted to make a movie that was just about fun stuff and no riding at all. Then a lot of people heard what we were going to do. All of a sudden we had riders calling us left and right, and I thought ‘Yeah we should do it!’
And now you have a solid crew of riders you are filming with. What was the decision process behind this crew?
I don’t know. It just came pretty naturally. If you want to make a good movie it has to be a mix of people who fit together pretty cool. It doesn’t have to be like that all the time, but for this movie it had to be.
Who is on the team?
It’s Eero Ettala, Heikki Sorsa, Niki Korpela, Hampus Mosesson, Fredu Sirvio, Markku Koski and myself. And then we will obviously bring in some friends that will have some footage. But that’s pretty much the main crew.
And what’s the storyline like this time? Or will it again be just filming as it’s happening? I mean we’re in Nice right now…
I know that’s pretty random. The main thing for Jaakko and me was that we wanted to have a fun time and a fun project. We didn’t want anyone to beat down our necks and tell us what to do. We’ve both been in the game for so long that we both know what it takes to get a good movie and a good part together. We don’t need anybody telling us what to do. I think that’s one element you will be able to see in the movie straight away: Things are randomly funny and not too planned out, you know? This is the extra element that you don’t get to see in that many movies nowadays.
What role do you see in it for your self? Riding-wise for example.
Well, I want to get a good part. But I want to bring in as much as possible of the old Euro Gap spirit. Jaakko is some times stuck up: He makes such good quality movies. Sometimes I have to come in and say: ‘Hey, take it easy! Let loose!’ Things don’t have to be so planned. He likes to plan ahead so far…
But friendship aside, Jaakko doesn’t seem to be the obvious choice for the movie. His projects have always been of such a high, almost Hollywood-like quality.
Yeah, but that’s a good thing, too. We’ll have some really good quality footage. And besides that we’ve been getting along really well, and we complement each other pretty well.
And after Euro Gap 3? What are your plans for the time after the movie?
We already talked about that it would be fun to work together, but it’s up in the air. But there’s still a lot of stuff to do before we move on to the next project.
Alright. That’s it. Thanks for taking the time and good luck with the Euro Gap movie!