Words by William Fraser | Photos by Sean Marko
Matt Bryson, one of Oil Country’s camera aficionados, and I sat down to chat about what the past year was like, how Oil Country scored some of their riders, and what’s next. However, I think I should warn you: parts of this interview will get you really hyped on the flick. But, those same parts could also be considered spoilers. So, read now or read later, the choice is yours. Watch Oil Country's newest film, OVERSCAN.
First off, Matt, you guys stepped up your pow game this year.
Yeah, thanks. That’s always how we’ve tried to be a little different. We still think it is important to show both sides of snowboarding in a video. The core street stuff and the core pow stuff. I feel like that lacks a little in Canada. There are so many insane street crews. And, if I can be honest, I like watching street over pow, but I still think it is really important to have it in a video.
What was your favorite shot of the year?
Maybe Marko’s Nosepress on Sunalta. Just because it’s one of the most iconic rails that I have ever got to film at, and it’s probably the longest we have ever spent at a spot. We went back for days and day and days. And when I say “days and days and days,” I mean, like, maybe 4 or 5 days were spent there.
Shawn Marko is a little sleeper, hey? I didn’t see his part coming at all. It’s really strong.
Yeah, he is crazy. He’s a complicated human. I think he likes to endure pain. Everything he chooses to do you sit back and you question it: “are you sure you want do this? Does this make sense? Will you be ok?” And sometimes I don’t think those thoughts cross his mind when he wants to do something. But it’s works out for him.
You said you were at Sunalta for 4 or 5 days. You guys went hard. What were some other battles that happened when filming this year?
The biggest battle, personally, was Justin breaking this femur. He broke his femur pretty early on in the season at the blue canoe club rail in Calgary.
What’s the story behind that?
Well, we went to the same rail the day before and it didn’t seem like it was too much of a battle—Manu came super close to doing a cab 2 back to regs through the whole thing—The idea was that Justin would get a shot and Manu would finish up what he started the day before. So we picked up Manu, drove into Calgary and went to the rail to finish it up. For Justin this was a really good rail to do a switch backboard same way through, and that’s kinda his go-to trick. But one try he came off early and caught on the last support, and broke his femur.
What was it like when he broke it?
It was insane. It was deja vu of two winters ago when I watched Finn break his leg. I was standing in a similar place, like far away, filming. When it happened everyone was stunned. It almost took Justin a second to go, “guys, I broke my leg. Can you guys help me?” We all ran over as quickly as we could but we were all just stunned for a second. Like, no way, this isn’t happening right now. And he champed it. I’ve never seen an injury that bad before. Eventually the ambulance got there and they got him all dosed up on morphine, straightened out his leg and took him to the hospital. The rest was a wrap. That was definitely the biggest stress of the season. Not only because he is one of my best buddies, but also because we were battling and struggling for footage so hard before that. That was like the cherry on top. It was like do we even want to keep going. Do we want to keep filming? Is it worth it? I was definitely thinking that the whole way home that night.
What do you mean? Were you asking yourself if making a video was worth it, or if street snowboarding was worth it?
Both. Like, do I want to watch my friends do this to themselves? That’s what always goes through my head. And, with the injury, part of me felt guilty because it was a spot I kinda picked for him. You know, we hyped him up on the spot, telling him it was an easy place to get a quick trick.
But it’s not like you lied to him. That’s just what happens sometimes.
Yeah. But that’s always a tough thing cuz I feel like sometimes I have these big ideas for spots, but I think I need to calm down cuz I’m not riding these spots. I get ahead of myself sometimes and when stuff like that happens it makes me kinda wanna say nothing. I felt terribly guilty afterwards.
I can understand that. Some of the stuff people do these days can be hard to watch, even without it being one of your good friends. But, on a happier note, how the heck did you guys score Craven this year?
He wanted to be a part of it because he is so tightly affiliated with Rude Boys. He has been riding for the shop for a super long time. They are actually in the midst of starting up a goggle company right now. And, Dustin is working on a multi-year project so he had some footage that he was happy with letting us use. I mean, it’s always been a strictly armature project that we have done, but it just made sense because he is an Alberta-bread rider and a Rude Boys rider.
Tyler Lightfoot, waiting
Who is the other filmer in Oil Country?
Evan Lavalle, he is the other half. He’s on his sled for most of the season and you wouldn’t really see him unless you were getting strapped up in the parking lot in Golden, BC.
So he is based out of golden?
No, he is based out of Banff. It’s just that you can’t sled in Banff because it is a national park. I’d say that a good 74 percent of the backcountry stuff is filmed in the Golden area.
Was the film-looking filler in this video real film or was it an app?
It was real. We shot a bunch of 8 and 16 mm footage this year, and I’m really excited about how the 16mm footage turned out. It is kinda interesting too because this is the first time I had to wait for footage. It’s not like digital. You just seal up the film, put it away, and hope that it works out. By the end of the season we had shot maybe 5 or 6 rolls of film.
Do you think this is the best video you guys have filmed so far?
I think this is the most proud of a project I’ve been. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It might come across like we weren’t struggling for footage this season, but it was a battle until the very end.
Do you have a line up for next year? Are there some guys you have in mind?
There is always a dream list of people that I want to film with. I definitely wanna mix it up a little more and get some fresh faces involved with whatever we are doing, but still keep the guys who have always been down. Breathing new life into a project is important. But, I don’t wanna force anything. I think it’s important that projects happen organically. Some cool opportunities happen when you don’t have a 100% plan.