Seeking Nirvana is something to write home about. If I were to write such a letter, it would go something like this.
Dear family, or the thief that dared intercept this letter—
Congratulations on your good fortune. I write with good news, I write with passion not for the sorry, constipated web series of late, but to inform you of brave new shores: Seeking Nirvana.
This new web series seems to be built on the foundation of both a pull and a push: a seemingly career-long ambition on behalf of the ski superstars to work together acting as the pull; the push coming from the tumultuous seas of traditional filmmaking. As an interesting aside on the pull, the Nirvana seekers—Mike Henituk, Riley Leboe, ex-halfpipe skier Matt Margetts and Joe Schuster—are some of the wild-hearted men behind the most lusted after film project that never was, The Kids.
In doing what has become entirely cliché, but entirely refreshing in the same breath, Henituk, Leboe, Margetts and Schuster took things into their own hands. The result, dear family or thief, has come in the form of a web series that captivates both hearts and minds and the adventurous spirit that pulled me from home. The editing flourishes from the touch of Super Proof's visionary Leigh Powis; the narration and storyline wrap you into the film through the voice of Colby West; and the skiing is exactly as strong as it needs to be.
My loved ones or thief, I urge you to become one of the near 100,000 views that the first episode of Seeking Nirvana has accumulated. And in doing so, I feel that it's only natural that you see with your own eyes episode two.
Because I know this will interest you so, I've attached below an interview I did with the gentlemen via a conference call about the project.
With warm wishes from a cold heart,
Where did the idea for the project come from?
Joe Schuster: I would say that it stems from The Kids project that we had tried to do a few years ago but unfortunately couldn’t get off the ground. We all grew up skiing together. Some of us have gone different routes or to different film companies, but coming back together as a group and making something happen has always been something we've dreamed about. It’s been a long time coming.
So it feels like a bit of a homecoming. Has it panned out as you guys had hoped?
Joe: Someone else want to take one?
Riley Leboe: Yeah, it definitely has a different vibe than what we had planned with The Kids. But I guess with that being about five years ago, we’ve grown as guys and skiers as well. This is more of a light-hearted, fun direction that we wanted to go with. We wanted to not take ourselves to serious, but to put out some good content with a really quick turnaround. We’re pretty happy with how it turned out.
I’ll direct the next question at Marg here: where did the idea for the name come from?
Matt Margetts: That spawned from your good buddy Mike Henituk.
Heni, take the wheel.
Mike Henituk: Well, first of all, it has nothing to do with the band. [everyone laughs]
Alright, we’re all in common understanding about that.
Henituk: It’s just more of a coincidence. The meaning behind nirvana is paradise, so we’re basically just trying to find paradise and that could be in a vast powder bowl, that could be going surfing, it could just be doing anything fun and finding good snow. It could mean a lot of different things.
So no one is an overly enthusiastic fan of Nirvana in the group?
Margetts: Kurt Cobain is a hack. [laughs]
Did any of you know that Nirvana is a town in Michigan?
Leboe: That I did not know.
Margetts: We’re never going to find Nirvana then.
You could go to Nirvana, Michigan and make an edit there but I don't know if the skiing will be of any notable quality.
Leboe: Maybe Mike Hornbeck will find Nirvana or something.
Let's go back to something you mentioned, Riley. The fun vibes really emanate from the whole project. Where did you guys pull some of the ideas from: the map, the narration and the Wes Anderson vibes?
Leboe: Anyone that’s ever met us knows that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re out there to have fun and we wanted to do some creative shots and we definitely took some inspiration from that Wes Anderson feel. With some of the quirkier shots, they just tie the edit together and get across that fun feel without having it right in your face. Stuff like the map and some of the panning shots came from brainstorming. The map and Seeking Nirvana just fit. That was our map to the mountains. It came organically.
Next topic: Leigh Powis. What made him the right man for the edit in your eyes?
Margetts: He’s just so god damn and creative and talented. And he’s an ex-skier. He knows what shots work and what shots work well together. And he knows us well. I couldn’t think of using anyone else. He’s the perfect fit for us, and he’s been awesome.
As a viewer, he certainly proved that he was more than a one-trick pony with what he was doing with Super Proof.
Leboe: That was a cool part about working with Leigh too. He was really full on with the whole direction that we wanted to go and really saw our vision. I think it challenged him a bit too. He did such a great job with the Super Proof movies and all the short movies he’s done—they’re all incredibly done—but they have a darker more cinematic feel to them. This being a little more light-hearted was different than what he was used to, but he ran with the whole idea and it turned out amazing.
The filmer, Taylor Loughran? How did you guys link up with him.
Schuster: We came about him coincidentally. It’s tough finding a filmer who has a truck, a sled and experience in the backcountry. Unfortunately, Taylor wasn’t our first pick just due to the fact that we had never met him previously. Basically everyone that we had spoken with had a job offer at the time already so we were a bit high and dry, and we were just lucky enough to have one of our good friends that we were trying to work with pass off Taylor's name. I actually cold-called him, and said “Hey, I got your name from so-and-so.” Within the same first cold call, he basically signed on with us. He needed a job and we needed a filmer, and that’s essentially how it went down. Since then we’ve really got to spend some time with him and hang with him. He’s really killed it for us and produced a lot of really good footage. We’re super happy to be able to work with him.
Those gimbal pow shots were insane.
Henituk: All of the gimbal shots were actually us filming.
Damn. Hidden talents. How did that come about?
Henituk: Taylor was actually going to be away for the first part of the month and we had a plan to do an all follow cam edit. We bought the gimbals, set them up with some modified GoPros and just started fucking around with them. It took a bit to get used to. We definitely missed a lot of shots, but the shots that we got actually turned out pretty awesome and pretty unique. I know a lot of people are doing that now, but we actually put something out with them, so I think we beat everyone to it, almost.
And Marg, last question. Do you miss skiing pipe at all?
Margetts: Yeah, I do. Skiing pipe is awesome and I really enjoyed skiing pipe, but holy crap it’s been one helluva different year skiing pow full time. I absolutely love it and it’s been really challenging, but it was great to get a couple of shots and I can’t wait do some more gnarly stuff moving forward now that I’ve got a little bit of confidence next.