The Balance Movie

Balance opener

Photo: Crispin Cannon

Words: Eric Greene

David Carrier-Porcheron (DCP) made a movie. It’s a snowboard movie, but it’s not. Balance is a reflection and summary of DCP’s life—his career, his family, his outlook, and his world. Like any film, it started as an idea, two years ago, and he thought the same thing all film producers think: “This shouldn’t be too hard to do.” Two years later, he is near dead from stress and has never been so broke, but the film is complete and the world premier is the night after this interview takes place. 

The snow/skate/surf film idea has been attempted and failed at many times. The point of Balance is greater than snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing. It’s a documentary type film about finding happiness, mixed in with a bunch of exotic eye candy. Trust me, you’ll dig it. 

On a rainy September day in Vancouver, I met DCP at the venue of the Balance world premiere, where he was pre-checking the space and making sure everything was set for the biggest night of his life. Still nervous, he walked around the corner with me for lunch, where we had a two-hour conversation about everything and anything. I asked a lot of questions and he gave a lot of answers, and what I thought would be a back-and-forth interview was abandoned as he owned the floor and said it all. The following is a summary of that conversation, entirely in DCP’s own words.

Balance dcp silvanozeiter 1

DCP, Frontside 360, Obersaxen, Switzerland. Photo: Silvano Zeiter

The film is produced by myself and Whistler Creek Productions. Paul Watt and I directed it together. I lined up all the sponsorship, the trips, the cast and everything, and Paul did all the visual stuff. The idea started from an incident that happened two years ago when a dear friend of mine, Joe Timlin, who was my brother-in-law and also our YES rep, died in an avalanche in Colorado. I was seriously thrown in such a loop after it happened that I didn’t snowboard for the rest of the year. I was questioning if I really wanted to keep snowboarding. I’ve lost so many friends in the mountains. I have two kids and maybe I should move on, you know? I took a lot of time over that summer to go surfing and reflect on everything, and at the end of it all, I thought, “You know what? I love snowboarding and I can’t just stop doing it.” 

When I thought about what I really loved about snowboarding, I realized that maybe I do love to get scared and push myself. Maybe being in an uncomfortable situation is what makes me feel good. After I really started to accept this about myself, I wondered if other people feel the same way and if that’s what drives them to do what they do. Is it the same for surfers and skateboarders? Are we all looking for the same thing and the same escape? I think it’s all a big search to find ourselves in these moments. Is that what we’re all looking for? Because that’s what I’m looking for. 

The following season, I knew I wanted to start this project. I didn’t want to film another video part for some movie, which was the same thing I’d been doing for 15 years. I wanted to do something that would speak to more people and inspire people to get out there and find what it is that makes them happy. I looked at it like a research project in documentary form to prove that snowboarders, skateboarders, and surfers share the same drive to find the same feeling. The question was: What makes people happy? 

From that concept, we looked at where we could go to figure this out. Obviously, we started at home in Whistler. Then we went to Costa Rica, which is a tropical surfing environment that is in contrast with the mountains, but it offers a similar frame of reference. Mother Nature also dictated the locations we went to. And that’s what snowboarding is—going with the flow and adventuring to new places with friends. 

Creating the film started as a personal project about me, but we don’t really go into that story. It is based on me in that it’s about my ideas on what makes me happy, but the main focus is to find the general ways of attaining happiness. There is research that shows it’s found in the environment you’re in, the people you’re with, and the adventure. It doesn’t have to be an adventure across the world. It can be an adventure in your backyard. It’s just the sense of adventuring outside of your comfort zone. And lastly, it’s about the state of living in the moment. 

We interviewed a lot of different people in different places over the last two years about these subjects. There’s a narrative by me in the beginning of the film and then we go into close-up interviews with the cast. 

Balance romaindemarchi riksgransen blotto

Romain DeMarchi, Method, Riksgransen, Sweden. Photo: Dean Blotto Gray

I wanted Balance to be deeper than an action-packed porn film about three different sports. I loved Volcom’s True To This film, but it was still a Veeco-style movie, full of bangers from each sport without any real relationship. I like that, but I wanted to follow more of a storyline that makes you think about your own life after you watch it. For us, it’s more about passing on our passion to other people and the next generation. And not in a progression way, like, “Hey, go do a Triple Cork and maybe even a Five Cork next year.” It’s about the feeling and fulfillment of doing what we do over a lifetime. It’s about learning about yourself and passing something on to other people. 

The YES team breathes surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. They were the start of the cast and everybody wanted to be involved. Austen Sweetin was focused on working with Absinthe Films, but he got involved with as a skateboarder. Romain [de Marchi] and JP [Solberg] are very good friends of mine, as well as Benji [Richie], and we all wanted to ride together and go on adventures. Growing up, I was always a big fan of Terje [Haakonsen] and we became friends when I rode for Burton. I’ve always been inspired by his lifestyle and approach to everything. His snowboarding is very powerful, but he’s a surfer and that’s how he rides. He also has three kids and is a perfect representation for the film being about balance. We all balance our lives with family, jobs, traveling, stress, and release.

Temple Cummins is an inspiration in the same ways and also a close family friend of mine. He’s quite underrated with how rad he is as a surfer, skateboarder, and his all-around lifestyle. He’s the guy.

We were fortunate to connect with Nico [Müller] and went to Switzerland with him. He’s so amazing as a person and was a big addition to our cast.

Romain, JP, and I ride for Globe, and through them, we connected with Paul Hart and Mark Appleyard to feature as skateboarders. It was tough to make it happen with them because skateboarders are pretty different. They don’t just jump on a plane and go somewhere because of the weather. They like to know what is going to happen in advance. We took them on a skate trip to Costa Rica, which is a place that I know well and I’m comfortable there. That was the adventure part of the film. Austen also came and ended up being put on the skate and snow teams for Globe after the trip. He rips. He just starts the fire and all the other guys were so thrilled on him. It was a super good dynamic. 

Balance nicolasmueller melon obersaxen silvanozeiter

Nicolas Mueller, Melon, Obersaxen, Switzerland. Photo: Silvano Zeiter

I’m friends with some pro surfers from Costa Rica, so we got a few of them involved and then linked up with Carlos Munoz, who is such a nice guy. For the other surfers, we went to Vancouver Island and did a trip with the guys there, who are a tight group who’ve all grown up together. Sepp and Raph [Bruhwiler] put things together and brought Pete [Devries] and Noah [Cohen] onboard. We went to Nootka Island and filmed over the winter, and then we took Sepp on a snowboard trip to Baldface Lodge. Those guys all rip.

So, we really mixed things up with the people and locations. Like, surfing in the tropical rainforest and the cold-water rainforest, skating in the tropics, and snowboarding wherever we could find good snow.

I feel like everyone in the film has their own place and makes an impact, so I don’t think there is one specific star. Austen was the fire on the skate trip and lit up everyone else. Terje has some really impactful things to say and Carlos Munoz has a really cool view on life. Devun [Walsh] is also in there from our trip to Japan, which was a last-minute trip to find snow with a small group of good friends.

I wouldn’t have taken on this project if I wasn’t going to benefit by learning. All the logistics of organizing everything has been a major task, but I didn’t want to just be a rider, filming for someone else’s project. I’ve done that enough. I was stoked to be more involved in everything. It’s been very difficult to find funding for the film, so now we’re hoping to sell enough copies on iTunes and merchandise on the premiere tour to make back our production costs. It’s been two years of our lives, working fulltime on this film. I just watched the final, full version last night for the first time and we premiere it in Vancouver tomorrow night. You definitely doubt yourself when you finish a project like this. Are people gonna like this or think it’s lame? We’ll see [laughs].

Balance jpsolberg obersaxen silvanozeiter

JP Solberg, Frontside 360, Obersaxen, Switzerland. Photo: Silvano Zeiter

Balance is different than something like an Absinthe film. Other films are generally about the progression of snowboarding and about entertainment. Those are the films I like to watch and see the gnarliest things happening each year, but our film is about the feelings in snowboarding. It’s not about the biggest line or craziest trick. It’s about why people are choosing to live this lifestyle. I have the most respect for those who are progressing snowboarding these days and how gnarly they are, but how many people are gonna watch someone do a Triple Cork and instantly want to go snowboarding? But if you watch someone do a nice pow turn or a Method, you think, “Aww, I wanna go do that! Let’s go!” This is a more accessible movie to inspire people to get out there and experience something for themselves.

Snowboarding is not as popular as it was in the late nineties and early 2000s. Maybe there’s more variety out there now or skiing is more popular, but I still think that snowboarding is where it’s at. I don’t think I’ll stop doing it. I want to keep snowboarding because it makes me happy and I want my kids to do what I know will make them happy. I want them to find it for themselves.

I think I had other expectations at the beginning of this project, as far as personal growth and satisfaction. Maybe I’m never fully satisfied, but it’s like one of the quotes in the film by one of the skateboarders: “You never win at skateboarding.” Because if you won, you wouldn’t keep doing it. Not winning is what always keeps you going and I feel the same. I want to keep riding. I’m not interested in doing the biggest 900 of my life this year and I’ve already done big lines in Alaska, but I’m not going to stop. I want to ride with my kids and keep exploring. This film has opened my eyes to more adventure-style projects. Like, I really want to go to Iceland this year to do a snowboarding and surfing trip, and make a short film about it.

Balance dcp silvanozeiter 2

DCP, Obersaxen, Switzerland. Photo: Silvano Zeiter

I’m not going to say that I’ll never produce another film. This one was really fun, but honestly, it was very stressful. It’s not easy coordinating so many people that do different sports that depend on the weather. You can’t reschedule four people’s lives because the wind was fucked somewhere. But now that the movie is finished and we’re about to show it, I feel way better.

That being said, looking back now and considering what I’ve learned through creating this film, I hate it say it, but I think I’m more stressed than I was before. It was supposed to be the opposite [laughs]. But my biggest lesson is still the same: A lot of things are out of your control, so stressing about it is not going to make things happen. There was a point this past summer while making the film, where I was working on the computer 18 hours a day, sleeping four, and trying to bang it out nonstop to hit our deadline. I hit the wall and acquired this crazy virus that put me in bed for three days straight and I lost 10 pounds. That was a big lesson—to take care of yourself and take care of your body because stress is not your friend. You need to work smarter, not harder.

Terjehaakonsen obersaxen silvanozeiter dsc 9705

Terje Haakonsen, Method, Obersaxen, Switzerland. Photo: Silvano Zeiter

The premiere tour is 25 stops in Canada, the States, Europe, Japan, and Australia. I’ll be at all of them. My wife and kids are very supportive and there’s no way I could’ve done this without them, but my wife is obviously a bit tired of raising the kids alone when I’m gone. She was a pro snowboarder and knows how it is, and on a personal level, I always put in the extra effort. I’ve always been a hard worker and maybe that’s how I’m still doing what I’m doing. But I need to set some boundaries for myself and make sure I’m spending time with my kids. They grow up so fast and time is so precious with them. If I go away for a two-week trip, they’re different people when I get back. It’s tough. My daughter is nine and the next thing you know, she’ll be 15 and want nothing to do with me [laughs]. Hopefully she’ll still want to go surfing and snowboarding with dad, but I need to be around more.

I’m fortunate to have a house in Costa Rica that I bought with Derek Heidt in 2003, and when I just came back from there two days ago, I thought, “Hmm… Maybe I could walk away from snowboarding completely and just live down there. That wouldn’t be too bad.” But I’ve been doing the mountain life for over 20 years and it will always be my life. The film has definitely put me in a new direction. Like, I did a guide training course at Baldface in the spring and would like to get into that scene. I’ve been asked a few times before to guide people, but haven’t had the liability or experience to do it. Maybe that route would be more about planned trips and organized adventures, rather than just jumping on the plane every time you hear it snowed somewhere. 

Maybe one day I’ll work on something more regular and be close to home. It’s a tough leap to get out of the snowboarding life, but I’m still really passionate about snowboarding and I’m not ready to leave it behind. The goal for us at YES is to have an office in Squamish. Romain and I are both there, and JP is in Norway, but we all have families and the same priorities. Running a company comes back to the movie and how to balance your life. You need to squeeze in an hour of skateboarding in the day or a quick surf session, and if you snowboard all day, you’ll end up working at night. You can get it all done. 

Back to blog