It all began with a photograph of water. Manipulating a camera has always come naturally to action sports pioneer Mike Hatchett. A photo of a drinking fountain earned him an A+ in junior high school.
In the years since, Hatchett has been documenting snowboarding culture on film. For three decades, he’s shot countless first descents in the backcountry and captured the growing popularity of the sport. He’s released more than a dozen movies via his own Standard Films production company.
In his latest film, “Flying High Again,” Hatchett teamed up with long-time collaborators Teton Gravity Research to feature an all-star cast of riders that includes John Jackson, Bode Merrill, Danny Davis and a host of other talented riders doing what they do best in the mountains of Idaho, Lake Tahoe, Utah and Jackson Hole.
“Flying High Again” is showing at the Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 4, rallying the local snowboarding community around TGR’s latest film.
Named one of “The Most Influential People In Snowboarding” by Transworld Publications, Hatchett pushed action sports media to new heights beginning in the ’90s with his “Totally Bored” film series. Hatchett, along with partner Mike “Mack Dawg” McEntire, combined their skills in different areas of snowboarding to produce an alternative to the more storytelling style of directors like Warren Miller.
“We decided that [“Mack Dawg”] would shoot a lot of freestyle, and I would shoot a lot of the backcountry stuff. We formed Standard Films with the intention of mixing both styles of snowboarding, to really cover the gamut of snowboarding: big mountain powder, kickers, rails, everything. Put it all in one movie and have it be really athlete-focused,” Hatchett said.
The standout film in the series, “TB5,” is well known for featuring a young Swedish rider named Johan Olofsson tearing up the backcountry in Alaska. It was one of the rare instances where Hatchett couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“There’s this one shot where he’s making three, maybe five turns down this steep spine, and it’s sloughing on both sides. And he does a 360 off this 20-foot cliff and goes probably 30 feet [in the air] and stomps it. That was one moment where I was filming it, just going, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.’ Moments like that are burned in my brain forever.”
While shooting “TB5” in 1995, Hatchett met Todd and Steve Jones who served as his guides in Alaska. A year later, the Jackson-based brothers went on to form Teton Gravity Research. Hatchett said he lent a helping hand with some sage industry advice.
“I gave them a lot of advice early on on the business side of filmmaking because it can be pretty cutthroat,” Hatchett said. “Back then there was not much of a framework of how things were getting done. How do you license music? How do you do distribution? How do you ship the stuff? So I helped them out a lot with my experiences in snowboarding.”
From there, the TGR and Standard Films connection grew and the two companies collaborated frequently over the years.
“It got to the point where Doug Coombs was guiding us in Alaska every year, and I would film [most] of Doug’s footage for the TGR ski movies,” Hatchett said. “And in return, they would film a lot of Jeremy Jones’ big mountain stuff and give it to Standard Films. No money was ever exchanged. We traded footage for years, and that was always a great deal. After I stopped making snowboard movies, I started working for TGR as a director including five seasons of a show they produced called “Locals.” And that led to the snowboard film this year.”
After almost a decade away, “Flying High Again” offered Hatchett the opportunity to return to what he does best: directing snowboarding films.
“I love the process of filmmaking from start to finish,” Hatchett said. “Calling the riders, filming all the footage, picking the music and figuring out the artwork. Putting together the finished product and marketing [it]. I like the challenge. For me, making a snowboarding film is the pinnacle of my [work] life. That was the draw to get back to what I really love doing.”
“Flying High Again” is showing at the Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center Foundation.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with director Mike Hatchett of Standard Films.