Words: Eric Greene, Photo: Oli Croteau
For the love. Everything used to be done for the love and now nothing is. Things are done because your boss makes you or your mom tells you to or you just think you’re supposed to. Real life isn’t easy. There are bills to pay, places to be, babies to feed… All that bullshit of the modern world. Things seem so simple when you can just fuck off and go snowboarding.
Snowboarding is in a tough spot these days. Energy drinks and mainstream money are dictating a lot of the future for everyone who stands sideways. We could blame it all on capitalism, but that doesn’t solve the problems. We all gotta get paid to live, you know? Doing things for the love sounds great, but it’s not that easy. Especially if you live in Eastern Canada because fuck it gets cold and you need some duckets to pay the heating bills. You also need money to buy food and booze, so you don’t die of famine and dehydration. If you snowboard, you need money for binding parts and a winch. At the end of the day, you need money to do anything, so if snowboarding doesn’t give you a direct deposit into you savings account twice a month, you’re gonna have to find a side project. Or, you could do whatever lame ass job pays the bills and make snowboarding your side project. Take these dudes at Nowamean. Everything they do with snowboarding is for the love and on the side. They work at 7-Eleven or St-Hubert or Global News Montreal or wherever else snowboarders clock into the daily grind in Quebec, and then they film snowboarding in the streets. They make films, premiere and distribute them, and have never made a cent. But that’s fine because that’s not what it’s about, know what I mean?
This dude, Jérôme Pagé, is the main man behind the company camera lens. He’s a snowboarder’s snowboarder, like a man’s man, and was shredding long before Vimeo existed. He organized local contests for a few years in an effort to “give back to snowboarding and help out those guys who were trying to get noticed and make a career,” he says. Then he realized that contests were fucking stupid (our words, not his), so he started filming his friends and putting a video production crew together with the same moral purpose. Pretty quickly, all the filming and riding ended up going down in the streets of Montreal. That was and still is their arena.
Dillon Ojo, Backside Nosepress Backside 180, Quebec. Photo: Mike Yoshida
In 2009, Jérôme met Sean Traer, who had recently moved east from Whistler. They randomly met in a dive bar one night somewhere in Montreal and bonded over a few mojitos (probably). Odds are pretty high there were strippers in that dive bar too, but the two weren’t distracted from destiny and made a plan to join forces and boost their filmmaking with Nowamean’s next release, Snowjob.
“The whole thing has always been a collective,” says Traer. “We’re a big family and leadership doesn’t come from the top of a pyramid.”
The Nowamean crew is a homie crew. There are no buy-ins for the riders or weird politics behind it. You film, you get shots, and you put a part together. The guys who are really going for it and trying to forge a path to success in the industry are offered a full part if they’re willing to work hard for it. Everyone else, who has a day job or only films part-time, shares parts and gets online re-cuts. It’s simple, yeah?
LP Dorval has been filming with them for four years now. “I film with these guys because they’re my friends,” he says. “It’s always good times and I like to see them shred, too.” LP is one of the guys busting ass all winter to film a full part, but contrary to working towards more exposure and incentive payouts, he mainly wants to put out parts that his peers will be hyped on and want to go snowboarding after watching.
The crew has six films under their belts, but the first two sucked and the third was way too long, so they’ve really got three films you should know about. During the filming season, the large and extended crew used to travel often to acquire clips in different areas, but they haven’t really been doing that recently. “We know Montreal and the spots so well that we can be more productive when we stay near home,” says Jérôme.
This is odd. Snowboard films are traditionally based on showcasing never-before-seen spots in unmentioned areas. Nowamean ain’t about that. They stick to what they know and turn up the volume on quantity and quality.
Gabriel Belanger, Boardslide, Quebec. Photo: Eric Lamothe
Now every film crew out there is coming back to Montreal and following their lead. Do you think that would piss off Nowamean? A bunch of foreigner kooks rolling into their streets to film their spots? They should be waiting for them with weapons and fuck-offfaces, but they’re not. They’re welcoming visiting crews with guided spot tours, cheap rum, and French spliffs. It’s crazy!
Keeping things local and organic is great. It’s what you’d think goes down on the West Coast, but it’s actually the opposite out there. On the West Coast, and backcountry filming in general, there is no sharing of spots or amalgamating of different crews. You lie to your best friends’ faces if they’re on another film crew.
“We’re going to Brandywine in the morning.” “Cool. We’re going to Rutherford.” Then you run into each other in the Seagram’s parking lot at 5 a.m. and it’s not even awkward. You don’t say “Good morning,” or make eye contact. You race the other crew to the top of the mountain and start staking claim on every feature you know. It’s war out there and if you cross one another, it’s gonna be a blood bath.
The East Coast, and street filming in general, isn’t like that at all. There isn’t really a variety of legit film crews in Eastern Canada. There’s Déjà Vu, Brothers Factory, The Headstones, and Nowamean. They’re all so friendly and accommodating to one another, it’s disgusting. They share spots, share footage, eat meals together, and offer up couches when they’re sharing each other’s cities. It doesn’t make any sense.
“It’s a big family,” Jérôme says. “We just happen to be from different cities.” Isn’t that the whole point of having different cities? To develop savage rivalry, invade, and overtake some else’s territory? The history of humanity was written this way!
Gab Bélanger is a filmer who started out on his own, filming for Holden and Signal, but he joined the Nowamean crew when he met Jérôme. It’s probable that they met on the streets one day with their cameras, shared some rum and spliff, and on the spot they decided to be friends and collaborators for life.
Gab currently runs Agence NBP, but like a true gang, he’s sworn into Nowamean until death. “The energy we get when we all come together at a street spot is incredible,” he says. “It’s as though we’re this tough biker-gang and nothing would ever be able to stop us.”
Jo Truchon, Switch Frontside 180 to Frontside Boardslide, Quebec. Photo: Oli Gagnon
Have you seen their most recent film, Dead End, this year? The Vimeo link has close to 40,000 views, but it’s still relatively underground. The snowboarding is ridiculous. You could put it up against any big production film and it’d hold weight. The whole entity is on the come-up. The filmers didn’t know how to film or edit when they started making movies and the riders weren’t really that good. Obviously that’s why few people saw the early films or knew any of the riders’ names. This year a few photos (about a thousand) came into the King Snow office from the Nowamean crew. A few hundred of the photos were A-grade. When Dead End went live and people started to watch it, it was a trip that all this was happening underground. We’ll be the first to say that some of the style is a little whack and crazy—they frontflip off a lot of things—but the tech shit is gnarly. Who knows how much rum and spliff went into these kids, but they’re not afraid.
The crew is all from Montreal and surrounding areas. Doing less trips these days, they have their zone dialed and know all the spots extremely well. The motive is simple, too. If you want to prove yourself and get somewhere in snowboarding, show up and film. The Nowamean producers are the platform to push up-and-coming riders and give them the spotlight. The age range of riders is anywhere from their late teens to late twenties. Dillon Ojo was 15 when he started filming with them, “But we all could talk to him like he was 25,” says Jérôme. All the current riders can legally go to the bar.
“A lot of where I am with snowboarding is thanks to Jérôme and Sean because they gave me a chance to be part of something real cool,” says Dillon, who loves how the crew is all about fun with friends and it’s a DIY operation, where things don’t always work out perfectly.
“Each premiere we’ve done has been held at the same club and something always goes wrong with the DVD when it’s time to play [laughs],” he adds. Going back to the inter crew love, the Nowamean premiere parties are usually shared with Brothers Factory and Déjà Vu. Together, they always pack the house.
The whole process, from winter’s first snowfall to premiering a film the following fall, is a side project. Jérôme works a full-time job and films and edits on the side. Sean works marketing at Billabong on the outside. The snowboard films are created for the love, and of course that sounds terribly lame and cliché, but these guys are actually doing it all, and only, for the love.
Alexis Mailhot, Tailslide 270, Quebec. Photo: Oli Croteau
“I’m in it for the money,” Traer jokes, admitting that they’ve never made a cent. They want to be the platform to show new talent and help their guys get exposure. True, they’ve never made any money, but they’ve helped a lot of young riders coming up.
Oh, and one other cool thing for all you moms reading this is that most of these guys wear helmets. It seems like a style thing more than safety, but it’s good to see they’re putting a lid on it.
Let’s do a quick run-through of the Dead End film. It opens with Jo Truchon. Fuck. Good thing he wears a bucket because he rides stuntman shit like Dan Brisse, except with style and a French accent.
Alex Gogo comes in next and he’s a style G. Aside from snowboarding, his other hobbies include drinking PBR and motorboating strippers. Now that’s a man we can all appreciate.
Then comes Nic Roy, the quiet and humble poet-type with a passion for fly fishing. Then there’s this dude named “T Bag,” a fan favorite. Homeboy loves to party and his snowboarding is pretty OK. The dude has a mean Back Lip and is a straight hustler. From T Bag, we get into LP Dorval who splits it up with Dillon Ojo. The soundtrack turns from Snoop Dogg to Johnny Cash, which seems a bit backwards, but these two crush. They can both press like Schwarzenegger in the ‘60s and they take their beats like Tyson’s ex-wives.
LP Dorval, Tailpress Backside 180, Quebec. Photo: Eric Lamothe
Next is this kid Axel Stall, who we’d never heard of, but he’s on the Scott Stevens kinda vibe with weird tricks on small features and his own unique approach. Plus, his part is set to some French music, and shit, we had to wait 13 minutes for that to happen.
Alexis Mailhot comes in at the back half of the film and his section starts off pretty slow, but then it goes longer than all the other parts before it gets really heavy and he shuts the film down with the ender you never saw coming. He’s a long-haired ginger, so you know he goes hard.
Oh, and the bail section after the credits? Fucking incredible. One of the clips you’ll recognize from a viral hit on YouTube. And that’s about it. If you like raw snowboarding and are curious about what goes on out east these days, Dead End is a must watch. Check the free Vimeo edition.
It’s mid-winter now and the boys are going at it almost every night at their usual spots around Montreal. Dillon sums up the whole Nowamean movement by explaining why he’s down for life with the crew: “I get what I want out of filming with Nowamean—a chance to show people what I love to do, travel, and have a good time with my best friends. Much love to those guys.” Isn’t that sweet?