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Jeremy Jones talks movies, kids, poetry, and becoming an elder

Find out why the new short film, Life of Glide by Teton Gravity Research, is unlike all his others.

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This…I look back and I realize I have given my life over to this. A love, an obsession, a never-ending pursuit of that feeling.” The feeling that Jeremy Jones describes in the opening lines of his latest movie project is what he calls the “life of glide.”

Jones, pro snowboarder, founder of Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards, is set to release his latest film project, Life of Glide, produced by his brothers at Teton Gravity Research. The 14-minute film is a departure for Jones, who most recently completed his epic Deeper, Further, Higher Trilogy, in which he sought out the some of the most remote mountains on the planet, climbing them on his own two feet, and riding down.

I sat down with Jones to get the scoop on this next chapter.

KH: What’s the backstory on this movie?

JJ: In Deeper, Further, and Higher, I was going super remote and risking my life on these intense mountains, and those were fun stories to tell. But there’s this other whole part of my snowboarding that’s just as important to me, even more important. It’s going out to my local hill on an average Tuesday, and having a blast in mundane conditions. I look around at the people in the lift lines and on the skin tracks, and there’s this common feeling that we all share. These sports have shaped our lives. They’re what we do in our free time, they define who our friends are, who we marry.

This love of the sport, and the feelings that it brings us: That’s what inspired this movie. The way it feels to glide, to execute a turn—whether it’s on a snowboard, skis or a surfboard—the joy, the freedom. It’s what I’ve craved ever since I was a little kid, and it’s what drives me into the mountains today. This movie is a celebration of the turn, and I think it’s something that anyone who loves these sports can relate to, no matter what level they’re performing at. 

KH: What do you hope people will be feeling when they walk away from this film?

JJ: I want them to be saying, “Oh yeah, that’s me. I live for that feeling.”

KH: Is glide a metaphor for other things in your life, like your work with POW, parenthood?

JJ: The glide—in its most general way, meaning my time in the mountains—is where I get my energy to fight the climate fight, to do all my day-to-day work. The glide is a sanctuary for me where I get fueled up to dig in on these other aspects of life.

Jeremy Jones
\”We learn from the past. Learners turn into leaders,\” says Jones. \”I always look to my elders and learn from them, but in the blink of an eye, I’ll be the elder, and I’ll be passing lessons I’ve learned onto my kids. The glide just keeps gliding.\”Courtesy

In this movie, you’ll meet Chris Christenson, a surf shaper (surfboard maker). Together we set out on this fun project to make a snowboard just like you make surf board, using the key curves.    

From a design perspective, you realize that all surfboards, skis, snowboards are all connected by these shapes from the past. We bring in Skip Frye, a renowned 76-year old surfer and shaper who’s still living his life of glide. He passed these curves on to Chris, who brought them into snowboards. It’s this endless cycle. We learn from the past. Learners turn into leaders. I always look to my elders and learn from them, but in the blink of an eye, I’ll be the elder, and I’ll be passing lessons I’ve learned onto my kids. The glide just keeps gliding.

KH: Do your kids, Mia (12) and Cass (9) chase the glide?

JJ: They do, but in some ways I’ve really protected them from it, too. I’ve slow-played my sports with them. My big fear as a parent is that I don’t allow them to become what they want to be. I want them to find their own glides. I would be so mad at myself if I pushed these sports on my kids or burned them out on these things that I hope to do for the rest of my life. Luckily, I can see that the spark is there with both of them. Like on our last surf trip together as a family. We were in camping on the California coast, and I typically get up in the dark to get out there early. Mia started getting up with me and saying, “Hey dad, can I come?” That felt so good.

KH: You’ve made dozens of feature-length films in your career. What was it like to work on your first short film?

JJ: It’s an interesting switch. Even though we only have about 14 minutes, our goal was to bring feature-length story-telling and big screen cinematography. I really didn’t want this to look like a webisode. I wanted it to be grand, like a movie.

I try not to keep doing the same things over and over. I’ve tried to really challenge myself as both a snowboarder and a filmmaker, and this movie is different than any other I’ve worked on.

We shot the whole thing on the side of the road and under the chair lift at Squaw. Despite this, and even though it was shot on 35-degree, intermediate terrain in spring conditions, it’s some of the some of the best powder footage I’ve ever done.

To make it watchable, and not boring, I brought in the best cameramen and the best cameras. The majority of my riding is going out with small, light, portable cameras, because the terrain dictates that we stay nimble. In this film, we were using massive cameras that take two people to carry. It took forever to set up a single shot. And aside from just one surf shot, it’s 100 percent Sierra footage.

KH: The voice-over throughout the film is another first for you. Why was that important?

JJ: This film was born from a poem that I wrote called Life of Glide. I carry a journal in my back pocket whenever I’m in the mountains, and I’m constantly writing down feelings, ideas, and making sketches. The poem was written in a cabin in the Tahoe backcountry in 2011 year. I polished it up one night sitting by the campfire in my backyard when the power was out. The voice-over allows me to use the poem as a framework for the story.

KH: You’ve made about 25 films with TGR. How is it working with your brothers, Steve and Todd?

JJ: We’ve been shooting snowboarding together for over twenty years. We have our brotherly battles but it’s because we’re all totally committed to making the best stuff possible. We live and breathe these films and leave nothing on the table. We’ve done feature films, web series, TV shows, and social media projects. But this is the first time we’ve done something where we put this much effort, resources and thought into a short piece.

KH: It seems like companies are getting away from premium content and focusing more on quantity over quality. Is it hard to get support for a project like this?    

JJ: It’s an interesting time right now in marketing. It’s much easier to get budget for social media projects or web series but it’s an incredibly crowded space. This is a middle ground between social media spots and feature films. My focus has shifted to simple, “live adventure” content on social media and behind-the-scenes stuff about my life as a snowboarder. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with O’neill. We’ve been working together for 15 years and they trust my vision. They were the first to support Deeper when no one else would, and early on they loved the concept of Life of Glide.

KH: What’s next for you?

JJ: Well, my climate work at Protect Our Winters is pretty urgent. Right now, we’re focused on the 2018 elections. We need to stop electing climate deniers to Congress. They’re funded by the fossil fuel industry and they’re trying to obstruct our transition to a renewable energy future. We have a strong footprint in a handful of districts that currently have climate deniers in office. Our goal is to replace them with climate champions.

In terms of films, my next project will be totally opposite from Life is Glide. But I’m still very Sierra-focused. For the last several years, I’ve been obsessed with breaking new ground on my home turf in the heart of the Sierra, where so many first descents lie. The deep Sierra backcountry sees very little traffic in winter because it’s so hard to get there. It’s been a huge challenge and a long process, but I’m just starting to crack the code on how to go out there for 7 to 10 days at a time, move heavy packs 30 miles in, and then break off and do these 10-mile days. If I can get to the point where I can do that, and still have the energy to do some real snowboarding, I’ll start to take these techniques to other remote ranges. But right now, I’m all about sticking close to home, but getting further out into my backyard mountains.

KH: Where can people see Life of Glide?

JJ: We’ll be doing a small film tour, it will be at some film festivals, and we’re trying to figure out the logistics of an online stint as well. The movie will drop on at the end of this month.

Here’s a listing of the current dates and locations.

Revolution – Camarillo, CA / October 26, 2017 @6-8pm

Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA / October 27, 2017 @6-8pm

South Coast – Ocean Beach, CA / October 28, 2017 @6-8pm

Proof Lab – Mill Valley, CA / November 1, 2017 @6-8pm

Brave New World – Toms River, NJ / November 3, 2017 @6-8pm

Island Surf & Sport – Middletown, RI / November 3, 2017 @6-8pm

The Lido Theatre presented by Surfside – Costa Mesa, CA / November 30, 2017 @6-8pm