Fans of snowboard cinema have had a lot to feast their eyes on so far this season. From epics like “The Fourth Phase” to more indie-esque offerings like “Energy,” it’s been a good year to be a viewer. And it’s only getting better with the release of Nicolas Müller’s biopic, “Fruition.” Müller has been quietly at work on the film for the past couple winters and without much fanfare (read: the typical social media pre-hype). But after seeing a few short teasers for the project, it was obvious that this film would be different. And from the murmurs we’ve heard around the snowboard community, it is indeed a departure from the standard snowboard film form.
Müller had to get creative with this one, especially when it came to the production end of the equation. Sponsor dollars were hard to come by, so Müller turned to crowdfunding and offered some rather unique “perks” for supporters. Müller put up a bunch of his old boards, the ones he himself rode. There was also a weekend at his place up for grabs. The biggest ticket item was the $5000 perk that went toward funding the construction of a drinking-water well in Senegal, Africa. And it might surprise you which of your favorite snowboarders ponied up for this one.
Drink Water is the presenting sponsor of the film, but as explained in the Indiegogo campaign page, “DRINK WATER provides this healthy message BUT does not provide sponsor money at all. That is why FRUITION reaches out to the crowd and asks you to do snowboarding a favour and help backing this simple message to all the kids out there: DRINK WATER!”
With our eager anticipation of the film’s release we asked Nicolas to tell us a little more about what went into this project. Here’s what he had to say about the movie, dreams-turned-reality and crowdfunding as the future of snowboard filmmaking.
The Snowboarder’s Journal: Let’s start with the title, “Fruition: The Life and Dreams of Nicolas Müller”—this sounds and looks like it could be more than your typical snowboard movie. Can viewers expect to see more than just action?
Nicolas Müller: Oh yes, you are absolutely right here. It’s not just a snowboard film. I’d like to call it a real-life film. It’s my story. I snowboard, but mostly I am a human that always tries to do what my heart tells me…sometimes more and sometimes less. I’ve realized that whenever I do that, whatever happens, that energy is more fertile and resonates with the peeps I share my life with. Anyway, you will love the snowboarding in it but I think there’s something in the film for everyone, old or young. And you don’t even have to snowboard…yet!
What were your dreams as a kid? Was it this life: snowboarding professionally, traveling, meeting people, exploring the world? Was creating a film like this a dream of yours?
Yes, exactly, those were some of my dreams. I was facing, like most humans in the first world, loads of decisions, like… as a teenager when I had the academic path on one side and the world of adventures on the other. My intuition led me to see the world. Down that road I was later able to the meet the most talented and kind-hearted people, and through that I had the pleasure of making this film a reality.
And what are your dreams now?
To inspire people to their fruition and surf more (laughs). Saving the world (more laughing). No, I’ve started to dream about a family recently. And I very much want people to snowboard, because it’s so damn fun. It breaks my heart to see people so turned off by it because of the public perception that it’s either a competitive sport—thanks Olympics—or it’s a death-defying sport. But it’s not. If you’ve got a board and you’re on snow, then you’ve already won a gold medal.
Bringing Drink Water on as presenting sponsor is a big move, especially considering they aren’t paying any money for the spot. Why is it important to you to have them involved?
Besides my sponsors, who make the dopest shit to have an unforgettable time on the planet Earth, Drink Water has the most honest presenting-message in my eyes. Especially for future generations. I want “Fruition” to be associated with, and remembered alongside, Drink Water. Water keeps me doing methods and it makes the good shit I feed my body with. It keeps me growing strong—just to name a few reasons. If you’ve seen the movie “Idiocracy,” you know what I am talking about.
And how did the premiere go?
The premiere was the night of my life. Nearly 1,000 people showed up and enjoyed the film. It was a very calm, yet high-energy atmosphere. People were moved.
How did you pick the snowboarders you filmed with?
I wish I had more time and resources to plan trips and invite all my favorite shredders, but for now it’s my main man, Frederik Kalbermatten, who I grew up riding with. Jake Blauvelt because he’s a boss. I did some riding with Manuel Diaz in AK and Chile, and there are a few clips of Terje and Orange Man in Japan which just sort of happened, like it was meant to be.
Is there a particular trip that stands out? What was one of your favorite adventures while filming?
Oh man, we had almost five terabytes of footage to go through from the past 15 years, but if I had to choose one adventure… I can’t decide between riding in Alaska or filming the reenactments in Zürich. It’s been an extremely fun project all-around.
And how about a favorite shot? Was there a single moment that stands out in your mind’s eye?
If I had to choose a single moment it would be a doubles-line with either Fredi or Jake. You’ll know it when you see it.
Can you tell us about the directors, Martin Luchsinger and Sean Fee?
They are kings and it was so beautiful to see them growing together on this project. I’m not talking about techniques or such, I’m talking personally. I’m taking my hat off when saying I could only sit back and watch it happen at some point. Yes, boys, that’s what I am talking about: that’s from competition to “Fruition.” They did it, as everybody in the project did. They did what they felt, what gave them joy, and that’s why it turned out. That’s why it worked.
And what are your impressions of Silvano Zeiter’s (silvanozeiter.com) book, “Honey Ryder”? How did that come together?
“Honey Ryder” is such a beautiful book that Silvano made happen. Just like the film, it didn’t come easy, but all the hard work paid off. It’s his first book. Also, since it’s about me, it’s my first book as well. I am blessed. His view was to portray a snowboarder in a way that hasn’t been done before, and to release it together with the film. It was such an added value to the premieres that I couldn’t have dreamed it better.
There was some awesome stuff that you offered up on the crowdfunding campaign: your old boards, a weekend at your house and the Senegal water project. It looks like you sold most of the perks and exceeded your funding goal. Are you encouraged by the support? Do you think this sort of crowdfunding approach is the way forward for snowboard films?
Yeah, the whole crowdfunding thing was totally new to me and I wasn’t sure whether I should do it or not. A friend who succeeded in a campaign encouraged me and offered his help so I went for it. It turned out to be so fun and exciting. The list of backers goes from Travis Rice—who, by the way, bought the Drink Water Senegal perk—Sage Kotsenburg and friends in the industry, to people I had no idea existed, let alone would be interested in snowboarding or the things that I’m up to. It was just so rad. I think it will be part of our future. I was just talking to Justin Hostynek at Absinthe Films, where it’s a struggle to raise enough sponsor money to even cover expenses nowadays. He is one of the most dedicated people in snowboarding ever, hands down. I was like, ‘Dude let’s do a crowdfunding campaign. Let’s offer the film directly to the people, and backers will get them directly in the mail.’
And what now? How is the winter shaping up in Switzerland? What are your plans for the coming season?
It’s been a slow start in Switzerland, but it finally just started to dump. I will be back with the Absinthe family this winter and worrying only about snowboarding for now…or maybe starting a crowdfunding campaign for them (laughs). Anyway, I will be cruising.