Engearment Writers Rafael Pease and Evan Green Take Their Stoke To Film
Engearment Writers Rafael Pease and Evan Green Take Their Stoke To Film
Adventure films fill our hearts with stoke and inspire dreams.
However, what goes into making the magic behind these films? What is it like to be in front of the camera, having your life being filmed for all to see on the big screen? Alternately, what is it like behind the camera, trying to make your creative vision come to life?
Two Engearment contributors, Rafael Pease, and Evan Green, have films that just dropped: Teton Gravity Research’s Mountain Revelations (2021), and Banana Belt People (2021), a short film that is part of Salsa Cycle’s For the Love of Dirt series.
We asked them to share their behind-the-scenes experiences.
Rafael Pease, professional snowboarder and activist
Pease stars with Jeremy Jones and Ryan Hudson in Mountain Revelations, a documentary-style film (a departure from TGR’s usual format) that explores their very different journeys to backcountry snowboarding and mountaineering.
With the unforgiving Chugach mountain range in Alaska as a backdrop and cameras rolling about 10 hours a day, the three companions embark on a 10-day expedition in the harsh Alaskan backcountry. Throughout the journey, the personal narratives they share explore the topics of racism and the relationship between access and opportunity.
“The film is about 3 different people with 3 different ethnic backgrounds, who love the mountains and go snowboarding. We talked about what everyone does while in the mountains: life, our paths, how we can change things, and where we wanted to ride,” explained Pease, 27.
“For me, what was most interesting is that the 3 of us are very different from one another in so many aspects. This led to very cool conversations about our upbringings, life, the mountains, music, food, culture, etc.,” he continued.
A self-described “filmmaking snowboarder who cares about the world,” Pease spends his time between Chile and Alaska.
Incredibly, snowboarding wasn’t his first love. His first love was actually soccer- a sport he had done his entire life. It was his mother who introduced him to snowboarding.
As a child, he was reluctant to participate in the sport because he was “deep into playing soccer.” He eventually came around to snowboarding in his late teens, when his skills became more refined.
Compounded with his deep connection to nature, Pease became hooked and swapped the soccer ball for a snowboard and has been shredding ever since.
An environmentalist, activist, educator, and athlete who hops between two continents, Pease was able to lend his unique, global perspective to Mountain Revelations.
According to Pease, the “revelations” theme was selected partly because of the intensified racial tensions taking place in the U.S. at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. The film was made to demonstrate that “there have been different people participating in the outdoor industry at pro levels for a while.”
“Everyone faces struggles, and I didn’t want to make this about myself. I shared only what I felt was necessary, and instead chose to focus more on the issues at hand: environmental and social injustices,” he said.
No stranger to outdoor adventure films (he has previously produced and directed films through Connections Movement, an award-winning production collective founded in 2015), this is Pease’s fourth feature film, but his first with TGR.
Said Pease, “The major differences for me were joining someone else’s production, not really having a say on the direction of the film, who is producing, and who the athletes were.”
“However, I’ve been on both ends of film production for the past six years, so I got used to it. It’s work,” he said matter-of-factly.
With Mountain Revelations, the biggest challenge was navigating the variable conditions. Alaskan snow in June can range from ice, pow, punchy, and, according to Pease, “just weird.”
Selecting the Chugachs was a collective effort, and it was also one of the only logical choices remaining. Because filming took place so late in the year, it was one of the few places that could hold snow in the northern hemisphere.
Despite the Mother Nature-made challenges, they ended up using most of the footage that was shot. “We weren’t out to make a snow-porn film, but one with a deeper narrative side,” said Pease.
A recent transplant to Alaska, Pease’s upcoming plans include continuous environmental projects, and using human power to explore his new digs in the largest state in the U.S.
Find upcoming Mountain Revelations screenings near you here.
Evan Green, producer and director
Banana Belt People
Working with Salsa Cycles enabled Green to combine two of his passions: mountain biking and filming.
After graduating from college, Green bought a mountain bike and subsequently moved to Denver. There, he fell in love with riding the miles of trails along the Front Range.
Said Green, “It (filming) has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid. My dad worked in video production, so I was lucky enough to have some equipment around the house to make short videos. As an adult, I’ve continued to study the craft and work on creative projects in the outdoor industry.”
An avid mountain biker, Green jumped at the opportunity to produce and direct Banana Belt People, whose locations were all shot on familiar terrain in Colorado.
“The film’s theme was based around Salsa Cycles’s Love of Dirt series which explores different towns and their love of the local dirt trails. We decided on the Buena Vista and Salida area because I had ridden there several times before, and knew it has a great community and trail network to showcase,” explained Green, 33.
“I wanted to connect the audience to Arkansas Valley riding; from the singletrack easily accessible from town, to the remote backcountry trails,” said Green.
“In particular I wanted to show the great trail development Buena Vista has done in recent years, which offer some additional riding days to area classics like the Monarch Crest,” he continued.
All of the filming took place over just 3 days and Green only had 2 days with the riders. Overall, the entire process took about 5 months to develop the storyline, assemble the crew, align interviews, shoot on-location, and then do post-production.
“It was pretty hectic and stressful running and gunning to get the shots needed. I also had to be respectful of everyone’s schedules which meant filming most of the interviews during business hours, so it was pretty difficult to get good audio,” said Green.
Green had never met any of the film’s subjects prior to filming.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking to reach out, but in the end they were all so cool. I was honestly disappointed I couldn’t dig more into everyone’s backstory.
“They were all so amazing! For example, Joe Parkin (co-owner of Buena Vista Bike Company) was truly one of the greatest Jacks-of-all-trades I’ve ever met. Prior to opening a shop in BV, he had been a professional road and mountain bike racer, author, editor at Bike mag, and even a stunt pilot!”
“Lane Wilson (Oveja Negra owner) was not originally on my storyboard. However, after noticing the bikepacking gear shop in Salida, and a few people recommending that I talk to her, I stopped by to ask for an interview. Her story and high energy spirit brought so much to the film!
“Meanwhile, Jason Shelman (Subculture Cyclery owner) had been following me on Instagram prior to the project, so it was great to put a face to the name as he welcomed me into the bike shop for an interview.
“Andrea Wilson was one of the people I was most excited to talk to, as she is one of the hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, Just Riding Along. She’s also a bike mechanic, and record holder for a few gnarly mountain bike races- just really cool,” he enthused.
Banana Belt People is now streaming on Youtube.