A Decade of Shorts and Shades

Insights from “The Retrospective” Director RJ McNichols

No goggles, only shades. No pants, only shorts. Hucking meat is mandatory, and only some of the riding will be filmed. This is a loose outline of Shorts and Shades, the infamous springtime party-boarding extravaganza at Mt. Bachelor, OR. The unofficial annual event led by the Tre Squad crew consisting of Max and Gus Warbington, Logan Beaulieu, Spencer Schubert and more, ran strong for a decade. It capped off with the release of the “Shorts and Shades 10” video that followed their final on-hill slush-shabang.

This year, along with the “Shorts and Shades 10” video, Tre Squad graced the snowboarding community with “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective,” a documentary which details what goes on behind-the-scenes at S+S. Tre Squad premiered the documentary last December at the Volcanic Theatre Pub, attracting a crowd so large and lively that they almost got kicked out of the venue. “We filled out a 290-person room with 350 people,” says RJ McNichols, director and creator of the documentary. “I think the venue manager was a little concerned.” We sat down with RJ to talk with him about filmmaking, the documentary, and his thoughts on a decade of Shorts and Shades.

ABOVE Squad goals. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

The Snowboarder’s Journal: When did you come up with the idea to make the documentary about Shorts and Shades?

RJ McNichols: I knew Max [Warbington], Gus [Warbington] and Logan [Beaulieu] from High Cascade Snowboard Camp. I worked in the video department, Max and Logan were coaches, and Gus was part of the Lick the Cat Signature Session. Right around the time Shorts and Shades 9 came out I had the idea of making the documentary. When I was leaving for camp during my last summer, Max said that we could do a Shorts and Shades 10 project there.  I was like, “You know I was going to ask you first, but I’m in.”

ABOVE Logan Beaulieu at Mt. Bachelor. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

What’s your background in snowboarding?

I was always kind of a vacation snowboarder until I got offered to do some marketing videos for High Cascade during the summer of 2014, and that’s when I became really into snowboarding. Coming from Chicago, the snowboard industry seemed a world apart from me. Then, once you see it up close and see how people really live this life, you start to figure out how to chase after powder days and where to go to make it all work. After the summer of 2014 I could safely call myself a snowboarder.

ABOVE Destry Serna getting tubular in the tunnel of exposed knees. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

What’s your background in filmmaking? Is your focus on snowboarding films?

Professionally I’ve been making films since I was 22 (RJ is 29-years-old), but I’ve been making videos from the time I was 12. They’ve been all across the board, anywhere from comedy to documentary. Since starting to work professionally it’s been more documentary focused. Snowboarding has really come into the picture for me in the last four years.

ABOVE Try not to fall. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

 What was it like filming Shorts and Shades 10?

Experiencing Shorts and Shades is kind of like going to a festival, or a big art museum—so much to see, so little time to take it all in. Between Max, Logan, Gus and myself, we probably captured 10% of what actually happened. There is a lot going on. Everyone is going for broke and you might not get to appreciate, let alone film, everything you witness. I remember looking at some of the footage I filmed and thinking I had seen, but not recorded, way crazier stuff.

ABOVE Jake Price, a.k.a. “JP Minibike,” on the sled. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

I remember shit was really taking off the third or fourth day, when Jake “JP MiniBike” Price showed up, cigar in hand, snowmobile in tow. I knew that I’d better buckle up and be ready to film.  We took some snowmobiles out and headed to this one area where there was a quarter pipe built.  Everyone knew this was the last day of filming, so that made everyone want to really want to send it. Everyone’s spirit was turned up to 11, and it was definitely the largest group we’ve had.

[Editor’s note: We’d love to include the Shorts and Shades 10 video here, but it is currently blocked on Youtube for music copyright infringement.] 

Do you have a favorite Shorts and Shades moment?

Obviously, Chet Vision (featured in “Shorts and Shades 9”) is a favorite. No video footage shot on a GoPro will ever be as epic as that. Also, the Shorts and Shades 4 intro, with someone flying off a jump unstrapped from their board and Spencer Schubert screaming, “Shorts and Shades 420! Love you Bitches!” It really set the tone of craziness for that video and for all the years to come.

ABOVE Shorts and Shades 9. Courtesy of Tre Squad.

Another favorite moment is in Shorts and Shades 9 when this metal song drops over a series of bails that is pretty incredible. Everyone is hucking and flipping to no end. I will say, Max’s acid drop finger flip into the halfpipe is one non-huck trick that comes to mind from the videos. For me it’s specific parts, and sometimes just moments, in these videos that stand out.  A lot of what you see in the documentary is of some of those favorite moments from all of the Shorts and Shades videos.

What do you think makes Shorts and Shades special for the snowboarding community?

It’s fun, and genuine. Max, Logan and Gus do a great job of capturing all of those moments. It’s not about the best style, it’s not about the best tricks. It’s about having the most fun. I think people all across the board can relate to having fun.

ABOVE David Rey gets upside down next to JP Minibike raising a flare to the air while filming for Shorts and Shades 10. Screenshot from of “Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective.”

“Shorts and Shades: The Retrospective” is available on Vimeo On Demand–$5 to rent, $10 to own it.


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