Films feature U.P. snowboarding destinations

Amanda Monthei

Two winters ago, snowboarding videographer Johnny Huege and a group of friends went to a casino on their way out of Houghton to try to win some money for a hotel room in Marquette, all while filming for a movie that, at that point, hadn’t yet been totally developed.

The film “Rock Bottom Digging Deeper” will premiere at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 in Jamrich.
The film “Rock Bottom Digging Deeper” will premiere at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 in Jamrich.

That night, Huege and friends slept in the parking lot, in the back of their cars, after losing all their money to the slots. The next morning they woke up and drove back to their home states — namely Illinois and Minnesota — frustrated with losing all their travel funds, getting almost no usable shots and acquiring some bruised egos along the way.

“We’ve had bad luck for two years and it doesn’t look like it’s planning on stopping anytime soon,” Huege said.

But with their incessant bad luck came an eventual idea for a film name, which would reflect the chaos of traveling around the Great Lakes region in search of the best snowboarding in the Midwest.

What resulted was Huege’s film “Rock Bottom Digging Deeper” — which will premier on NMU’s campus at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in Jamrich 102 for the NMU Skate and Snow organization’s annual movie premier event alongside “Deja Vu,” another snowboarding film.

“We have probably the worst luck of anyone,” Huege said. “We normally sleep in our cars on trips or everything seems to break down on us. That’s where our name came from. We’ve had multiple broken cameras, 10 snowboards break at the worst times possible and lights and equipment fail at awful times too. There’s also the lack of snow in our home state of Illinois.”

NMU students Brett Guild and Jack Tobin, both junior human centered design majors, are featured in the video, along with a handful of other riders from northern Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

Both “Rock Bottom Digging Deeper” and “Deja Vu” — which features a group of professional riders from Montreal, Can. and a few shots from a trip to the Upper Peninsula — will be shown at the event on Friday, Oct. 4.

“We picked “Deja Vu” because they came here and they were filming in Marquette,” Sean Kennedy, president of the NMU Skate and Snow Club, said. “They were probably one of the only groups to film here this year which will make it more interesting for students to watch it.”

Kennedy said he grew up snowboarding with some of the riders in “Digging Deeper,” while living in Illinois before coming to NMU, which is why he chose to feature the film as part of the premier this year.

“It was cool seeing all those kids finally get together and come up with a big movie — I wanted to show this to students to get them more (recognition),” Kennedy said.

According to Huege, “Digging Deeper” is just coming together into a final product, after he and fellow videographer and editor Brandon Sakiewicz took the summer off from editing snowboarding in order to film skateboarding. The film that will be shown at the premier is also special-cut specifically for the event.

“The movie’s not actually even done yet,” Huege said. “We’ve put like 60 hours into it this week. It will hopefully be soon, and there will be copies available for people at the premier.”

Huege added that the filming process lasted from around the beginning of December 2012 until the last week of April of this year — with filming taking place in Marquette, Houghton, Copper Harbor and countless other cities in the Midwest — and that he’s put in around five hours per day since August to have it done for the premier.

“It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be rowdy,” Huege said. “We put a lot of work into this, so come enjoy and see what it’s all about.”

Kennedy said students can look forward to diverse riding environments and styles from the two movies, which have different crews, sponsors and available funding, and therefore will provide entirely different perspectives for viewers.

“I think it’s mainly about the diversity in riding, whether it’s backcountry, street or park,” Kennedy said.