Q&A: Filmmaker and Director of Vans LANDLINE Tanner Pendleton
A conversation with the emerging filmmaker on the process of shooting a modern snowboard video almost entirely on 16mm film
It’s weird to think of “back in the day” being the late 90s and early aughts, but in a sense, it is. Or was. Back then, as it had been for the decade or two before, every fall snowboard film crews would release their latest full length video, most often shot during previous winter. Aside from opening weekend at the local ski hill, video premiere season was about the most exciting time of the year for a snowboarder, regardless of age. You’d head to the local snowboard shop, buy up every new video and watch them on loop until winter finally arrived.
Nowadays, edits release daily, even hourly, and it’s been a long time since a 50+ minute video has really been worth watching all the way through, let alone more than once. LANDLINE, Vans’ new video—its first full length snowboard video ever—changes that.
Directed, edited, and filmed by long time snowboarder turned filmmaker Tanner Pendleton, LANDLINE is both Van’s first full length and Tanner’s first shot at directing a proper film with parts and everything, and was shot almost entirely on Kodak 16mm film at that. And you know what, it might just last, against all odds.
It’s raw and gritty, yet well composed in a way that feels completely natural. The use of 16mm film, combined with highly considered trick and spot selection gives the physical act of snowboarding a sense of accessibility and reality not often felt or seen in modern snowboard flicks. If you’re looking for spin to win Olympic ballerina boarding, this ain’t it.
With Tanner being a friend of The Field, and us being film photography nerds, we gave him a call to catch up and chat LANDLINE. So, read the brief Q&A below, watch the trailer, then go buy the film on iTunes. Support snowboarding and brands that support snowboarding, before the NYT claims the activity dead again, and people actually start to listen.
From music selection to trick choice and filming locations, the film feels genuine. It feels like watching real riders just doing their thing, and not chasing any trends.
Thanks. When we started our whole thing was trying to make something that any snowboarder could watch and be proud to call themselves a snowboarder. And all the dudes on the team—we just wanted to make something that they would like.
Did you have a comprehensive vision from the beginning, or did you just start and go with the flow?
We definitely had a plan when shooting–we were going for a really certain vibe and aesthetic and were pretty stringent about doing things a certain way. Editing wise, I started off wanting it to be different, I don’t want it to be just another part video, but the more and more I got into it I realized man, these guys put in two years of work and everyone deserves to have their footage showcased in a part because that’s what they want. That’s classic.
Some of the riders I worked with on finding music and others didn’t give a shit and were just down for me to do whatever—which was cool too—but honestly it was just like freestyling it and seeing what worked and what didn’t.
"Shooting film is the best, so if it’s not even a question we’re going to shoot as much film as we can."
How did you decide to primarily shoot film? And how did Kodak get involved in the project?
The winter before we started filming I called up Kodak to place a big order of film, and ended up being connected to this dude Josh. He’s super cool, used to be the Think Skateboards team manager, and me and him just hit it off. He’s a rad photographer and makes super 8 films too himself, so we just connected right away. We shared all these past video references and were inspired similar things and he was down to help out.
From there they were down to give us free film. So at that point we were like fuck it, shooting film is the best, so if it’s not even a question we’re going to shoot as much film as we can.
And Vans was just on board. They started seeing the film and it wasn’t even a question. They were like, this is sick, keep doing this. Just do it. The combination of them being down and Kodak supporting it, was pretty dope.
What was the most challenging aspect of shooting on film?
In general shooting film is the same as anything else—you get to where you want to be, set up, and shoot it. But we had a couple camera malfunctions the first winter. We were shooting on old wind-up Bolex cameras [manufactured from 1930s to 1969], which don’t have an electronic motor, and one of the filmers’ camera wasn’t functioning in the cold—it was running slow. So there were a couple trips where we got footage back and it was all fast motion and it was like, fuck. But overall nothing was really lost.
The second winter we all switched over to ARRI SRII and ARRI 416s, which are a bit more modern, updated Super 16 cameras that run off batteries, and those things are just absolute tanks. They were really sick to shoot on because you would shoot and actually know what you were looking at and what the footage was going to look like. On the Bolex you look through the little viewfinder and it’s so hard to see what’s going on, and it fogs up so fast that you’re almost guessing what you’re filming. You’d go on a trip and kinda just crossed your fingers and hope that it doesn’t look like shit, pretty much.
And in the streets we shot a lot of digital as well too though, because a lot of that stuff takes a lot of tries, so sometimes if you knew someone was going to go to battle [with a trick] it was like, don’t even take the 16 out, it’s not worth it.
There’s a specific backcountry follow cam shot in Arthur Longo’s part that was just so unique and special that it’s burned in my mind. Are there certain shots or moments that you’re especially excited about too?
I think it’s sick you mention that because to me a lot of the stuff in the video that stands out is the experimental stuff, and a lot of that comes from Jake Price for sure. He’s literally never scared. I think the shot you’re talking about is the backside 180 and you know, he coulda been like, I’m just gonna film it from down here and make sure I get a useable shot. But he was like, fuck that, I’ve filmed that same shot a million times, I’m not gonna film it regular, I’m gonna strap my snowboard in and ride next to him and try to film it that way.
I think a lot of decisions like that end up being the stuff where when you’re watching or editing you just think, damn this shit’s sick, it’s not the same as everything else. Jake Price was definitely doing all sorts of stuff that was super rad, like follow cams in the backcountry and taking a different approach to filming backcountry stuff.
Moving forward will you continue shooting film for future projects?
Yeah, totally. I’m addicted. I don’t think I can go back to not shooting film ever again. The first winter I owned a RED camera and was shooting on a mix of RED and 16 and at the end of the winter I was editing all through the footage and putting together timelines and literally would just take clips shot on RED—lifestyles and stuff like that—and put them in the trash. I was just like, man, this just doesn’t look nearly as sick and authentic. It’s crispy but I’m over it. It’s not what I wanted.
I like the process of shooting film, and when you get it back it just looks exactly how you want it to look. You don’t have to do any color correction really.
"I think people are starting to appreciate the old ways of doing things again."
I’m definitely addicted. I’m not trying to stop shooting film anytime soon. I don’t care what I’m doing next I just want to figure out some way to have whoever I’m working for to pay for me to shoot film cus that’s all I want to do really.
In the age of Instagram and the constant content feeding freny, why should people be excited about a new full length video?
I feel like people are always having this conversation. And I mean, I guess it actually doesn’t make any sense to make a full length video, which is why it’s pretty sick that Vans let us do it. But in a weird way it does make sense because I think people will appreciate it for what it is. There’s just something about a full length video.
I grew up watching snowboarding videos and every fall when they came out I would buy all the VHS tapes and sit in my bedroom and watch full length videos to get psyched to go snowboard that winter. Or in the summer, skate videos. That was what it was like back in the day so I think it’s sort of in the same vein as shooting film or doing anything old school—it’s like, yeah there are all these new options for doing things quick, and doing them perfect and crispy, but I think people are starting to appreciate the old ways of doing things again, even if it means waiting a while.
And I feel like it almost gives you street cred. Like, if Vans just came out were making web edits, it’d be like, whatever who isn’t making web edits? So for Vans to come out and put the time and effort into supporting all these riders and filmers and spend all this time on a project, to me, that gives you street cred within snowboarding. To be like, OK, Vans is a brand that actually cares about supporting projects, not just one-off web things, but actual long form projects. I think it’s cool.