SKids straighten up and fly right with Sandbox 

skids-fly-right.jpg

What: Sandbox (film premiere)

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: Wednesday, Sept. 7, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $8

The Whistler-based SKids rock ’n’ roll snowboard filmmaking crew is presenting a new face to the world this year – one relatively free of black eyes and fat lips.

After four years of making fun, but undeniably raw films wherein drunken antics competed with bona fide riding footage, original SKid Kevin Sansalone says it was time to move on and get creative with No. 5.

The resulting effort is Sandbox, which premieres this Wednesday in the MY Place theatre.

With bolstered production values, including a more extensive use of 16mm footage, combined with artistic segways and establishing shots, Sandbox is a definite departure, but one Sansalone deems a natural progression.

"We were going that way," Sansalone said. "Last year’s video didn’t have too much party stuff and all the guys wanted to do a better project. We wanted to make an impact on the international scene. We’re getting older and getting more about the cameras and the production side of it and caring less about taking the cameras out to the bar."

The shift in attitude is a brave move in a year that didn’t offer local filmmakers their shots on a silver platter. Weak snowfall in the Whistler area sent Sansalone and Co. east one province where they found inspiration in Alberta, home of series regular Andrew Hardingham and a new crop of ruling rookies from Calgary and Golden. It proved a good move with veterans Hardingham and Jonas Guinn logging some of the most mindblowing footage, Sansalone said, specifically a series of unbelievable rock rides in the Rockies.

Despite the hardcore riding footage, Sansalone knows he’s going to get flack from the contingency that comes to the SKids for other kinds of hardcore behaviour.

He described the response so far as "two sides of the coin," explaining that for all those who are disappointed in the change, there are equal numbers who are impressed with the level to which they’ve stepped things up. Either way, "we’re doing it for us," Sansalone said. ""If we would have cared about what everybody said all the time we wouldn’t ever have done anything."

As for the premiere event, Sansalone stressed the importance of respect for the refined venue space this year. Last year’s rowdy event at Rainbow Theatre resulted in a lifetime ban. Save it for the after-party is his message this time around.

The film screens at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. with tickets available from the MY Place box office for $8. While Sandbox is a relatively spare 27 minutes, the DVD comes packed with almost two hours of extra features including short films by some of the riders. Wednesday’s event will feature a compilation "teaser" of extra footage along with the feature presentation.

Premiere season ahead

September means premiere season is upon us here in Whistler. Prepare for a hurricane Katrina-sized deluge of new ski, snowboard and sled flicks to hit over the next few months.

While several films will indeed introduce themselves to the world, many of the "premiere" events will simply refer to the film’s first public screening in Whistler, most taking place in bars and adding a little extra pre-season stoke factor to an otherwise average night out on the town.

Then there’s the MSP crew, who are pulling out all the stops for the world premiere of their 2005 ski movie The Hit List . Traditionally, the MSP crew introduces their year’s work in Aspen, but this year, it’s Whistler all the way, baby. The Hit List will premiere on Sept. 15 at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. Tickets are $10 including gondola access and are currently on sale at the Whistler Activity Centre and the Whistler Helly Hansen store.

Check out a teaser for The Hit List at www.mspfilms.com.

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