Words by David MacKinnon
WE'RE STRONGER WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER
Hugo Dubé-Bouchard is telling me the motivation behind Interconnect, the sophomore film from his production company Tweakend. The project assembles footage from riders from around the world, and promises relevant urban snowboarding from a cast of style-driven up-and-comers. The thing is, many of these riders don't know each other personally. Rather, they're connected primarily through Hugo's drive to produce legit street snowboarding projects.
"We're not a crew like riding in person," Hugo explains. "I have some buddies in the movie that I ride with, but my goal is to make proper movies, not just put clips on Instagram." Hugo wants to showcase his films to international audiences and connect the cast to new scenes. "Everybody is super stoked to finally have a project that is gonna be seen in every country—with all the riders involved. I think [together] the movie can reach a lot more people. That's the goal."
Interconnect features Hugo, Mike Rotsaert, Oskar Fritzche, Patrice Poulin, Francis-Olivier Justras, Tye Wilson, Eric Freckan, Atsushi Hasegawa, Christian Kirsch, Rasmus Rönkä, Stepan Rokos, and friends. That's representation from Canada, the U.S., central Europe, Japan, and Russia, with half of the cast returning from Dreamland. Each of these guys puts up inspiring riding, and deserves the recognition an international project can generate. Check out Atsushi's "Pinball" edit, or Christian and Oskar's footage in Selfmade. In fact, picking through any of the riders' previous projects reveals common threads of style, talent, and ambitious spot selection, and it's easy to picture the group collaborating.
Hugo chooses riders based on who motivates him. He's bold in his recruiting, at times making initial contact with cold DMs. I ask him how riders react when he hits them up. "Everyone gives different answers. At the beginning, some were like let's do it, 100 per cent. Others already had a project and just said no. Some riders just sent clips, not full parts. But the project had some legitimacy from Dreamland (Tweakend's first release) and people knew they would be stoked when they saw their parts. That definitely made a difference, them knowing I wouldn't edit their parts all random. This is my job in real life— I work in the audiovisual industry, so I know how to edit and make it look right."
But is it possible for this project to capture what's arguably the most important part of the snowboard film, the crew vibe? And is it okay if it's not meant to give us the same undertones as the old classics? With snowboarding today pretty far after Lame, maybe yes to both. Young boarders are dodging pandemics and other climate catastrophes, all while struggling to make a buck off shredding in a world of shoestring budgets. The reality is restrictions on travel and little money to do it with have dramatically limited the opportunities for today's aspiring shreds to connect internationally, and digitally-driven efforts to retain those links have never been more pragmatic. Tweakend strives for connection in a cultural landscape of distraction from the real, human experiences offered by a life of snowboarding. "We've become a crew for sure," Hugo says. "What started with talking about how I'm editing their parts turned into conversations about life and snowboarding in general. Because we share the same passion and we share a project together, I'm gonna talk to these people for the rest of the time I'm in the snowboard industry."
Hugo plans to visit the friends he's made through this process. He has homies to hit up all over the planet, riders who know spots. "Japan's on my bucket list," he says. "I'd like to do a trip that's like 80 per cent pow, 20 per cent street. But I have people to hit up in Europe, Vancouver, Whistler, even Russia." Guaranteed, with Hugo's hustle those meet-ups have all the potential in the world. We're backing Tweakend, and the drive for connection at the heart of Interconnect. We're stronger when we work together, and inspiration truly can be born of online collaborations. Reach out and connect—who knows where the inbox will take you.