May 23, 2011
Author: Sara Tollestrup
Peep Show Films hardly feels like it needs an introduction these days, but lest you think we are about to delve into an interview about a pervert’s favourite pastime, we will set you straight. June Bhongjan and Esthera Preda have been producing all-girls snowboard videos for the last three years under the heading, Peep Show Films. Their self-titled first video was a DIY project that involved a group of friends filming each other with crappy cameras. Last year’s Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow was better quality both in terms of riding and production, and by the looks of the recently released teaser for Winter Wars, this year’s film will be Peep Show’s best yet. We caught up with Preda to get the low down on Peep Show and their forthcoming film.
Laurie Gauvin, Claudia Avon, Esthera Preda
Every year you seem to up the ante: better riding, higher quality filming and editing. How did you aim to step it up this year? "We just decided to try to become a real, legit film company. We're still DIY'ing things and thinking of ways to be as creative and economic as possible, nothing has changed on that side. However, we realized that if we wanted to be taken more seriously, we needed to step the game up a bit. First, June and I got ourselves legit cameras. That changed a lot of things, shots are easier to work with, and everything looks better. We can take no credit for the higher level of riding. Of course we try to always keep the girls motivated, but ultimately, they're taking all the risks and over the past years they gained a lot more experience and confidence with street stuff. As for the editing quality, it's seriously just due to a lot of practice and maybe more selectivity from our side on what we use and don't use in the video."
Epic Shovelling: Bryn Valaika, Gabi Viteri
Do you feel like you have something extra to prove as the only all-girl film crew? "I wouldn't say that we feel like we have something to prove, but rather that we feel pressured. We’re concerned with making a good movie, with good quality riding. Every year there are multiple guys' movies released and there are movies for practically every taste. When you're the only women's flick of your kind and you pretty much represent that whole aspect of women's snowboarding, you surely don't want to blow it. You know people are going to criticize it no matter what. And since there is no other comparable girl's project, people generally compare us to the men's level."
Recently you’ve been getting attention from mainstream media like Paper and Nylon magazines. What does it feel like to get recognition outside of the snowboard industry for what you are doing? "It's always really surprising. I feel like the snowboard industry is so small compared to all those giants of fashion. It definitely brings some sort of feeling of added legitimacy to the project, or maybe it just brings satisfaction from knowing that we get to share our passion with people outside the snowboard world."
From the looks of the teaser, there was less of a focus on rails/street stuff this year than is years past? "Without trying to sound too critical, I think girls can be generally pretty limited with their tricks on rails. We figured that if we didn't want to have a redundant movie, we might as well use our brains to find creative things to snowboard on. The movie definitely features rails again, but we're just more selective with the tricks and the spots we decide to use. Since the beginning June and I have always wanted to include more powder in our movies. We just didn't have the means to do it. So this year we added a few riders that are more focused on powder and jumping such as Gabi Viteri, Claudia Avon and Silvia Mittermuller."
Getting The Shot: Desiree Melancon
How do you incorporate new riders into the crew? And has it been successful this season? "June and I are always looking for new underground/AM talent. We either get recommendations from our friends or the rider just manifests her interest in filming with the crew. There are also some well-known riders we've always wanted to work with but just never managed to make it happen. For example, Gabi Viteri has long been on our radar but was injured the past two seasons. So we just waited for her to heal and made it happen this year instead. We're really satisfied with the crew this year. I'm excited for all the new riders that killed it this season and that will have awesome parts in the upcoming movie. The girls are really coming up."
Andrecht: Joanie Robichaud
What’s the story behind this year’s film title Winter Wars? "This year's title is very literal. It's referring to the battle we have to take part in every time we go on a trip. Either we fight with the weather or with our own consciences. I guess the word 'war' has a pretty epic connotation, so are some of the events that happened during the season. I'm thinking of Darrah back taco-ing that fence gap in Minnesota or her getting hit by a car while riding away from a rail."
There were some really gnarly slams this season. Were Darrah’s the worst? "Terra Michilot's slam was the worst in my opinion. Last January, she violently face-slammed a tree, which was next to a rail. She broke her jaw in two places as well as her wrist. I recently talked with her, and she was just starting to board again. Unlike Darrah's slams, we preferred not to show it in a PMS webisode. Terra’s was so gnarly that June, who was filming at that moment, panicked and cut the shot early, right when she hits the tree."
How did this season of filming compare to the past couple of years making Peep Show flicks? "We had a very intense season with lots of planning. We filmed so much more. A trip was always going on somewhere in the US or in Canada. We also worked with new riders, considerably expanding the crew. We were stoked to add Gabi Viteri, Bryn Valaika, Danyale Patterson, Claudia Avon and Silvia Mittermuller. They are sick riders and they bring diversity to the crew. I was also really impressed by some of the rider's progression. Desiree did some gnarly stuff I've never seen a girl do before. She just executes every trick so properly, it's crazy. And Danyale is so motivated, she's a loose canon."
Trois Rivières: Desiree Melancon, Bryn Valaika, Gabi Viteri and Matt
The music in the Peep Show films always seems to be thoughtfully selected. How do you find the songs, who picks them, and are they usually associated with memories from the past season? "June and I pick the songs. We just listen to a lot of music and spend a lot of time searching. June is really good at finding new cool bands. I like digging in old stuff. We spend a lot of time on our computers. Besides the internet, I also have a precious source in my sister. She has an amazing music repertoire. It can happen that some songs are associated to season's memories, but ultimately we end up picking the tune that best suits the footage we're working with. There are so many slow/mellow songs we would like to use, but these kinds of songs are pretty hard to pull off because the footage needs to be really banger. Desiree did it really well in last year's video."
In the Hospital: Terra Michilot
Did you go to any new places to film this year? "This year we weren't super 'exotic' with our choice of destinations. We preferred to explore known spots extensively over wasting time finding our way around new cities/countries. Actually, that's not entirely true. In January, Desiree Melancon, Gabi Viteri, Marie Hucal and Colleen Quigley went to North Carolina after a huge storm hit the east coast. They didn't know anything about NC and had no expectations whatsoever when going there. Even though we started filming in November, it took the girls a while before getting on a good, productive schedule. That's why we preferred staying in locations we knew best. That way we could optimize the time left.”
What’s one thing you’d like people to know about Peep Show? "It's a lot of work and devotion. Anyone who wants to do it has to make big sacrifices. It's only worth it if you're passionate about it because in the end, the only reward you'll get from it is the satisfaction of putting a movie together."