For over two winters now, Travis Rice’s whereabouts have been veiled in secrecy, hidden from the public by the big, cloaking curtain that is Brain Farm. However, they are one step back from pulling said curtain back today, with the teaser for their newest offering, The Fourth Phase. With the critically acclaimed That’s It That’s All and The Art of Flight, Travis Rice and cinematographer Curt Morgan single-handedly brought snowboard filmmaking to new heights and with The Fourth Phase they are doing it all over again. However, as Travis states in the twenty minute conversation we had, this is not either of those films. Rather, The Fourth Phase is a movie all its own and while the riding will be just as progressive as that offered by their two previous offerings, this film serves a different purpose. With each winter that passes, Travis is becoming one of the greatest who has ever strapped in, and no one is better at documenting and showcasing his talent as Curt and his crew, so it’s obvious to say that The Fourth Phase will be yet another cinematic stunner for the ages. I had the chance to get Travis on the phone to chat a bit about the thesis behind the film, what pressures and expectations he feels while undertaking a project of this magnitude, and what he wants the audience to take away from this film. Watch the teaser and then read this interview (with headphones on, as requested by Travis himself) as he has resurfaced for now, because I have a feeling that next fall, when The Fourth Phase comes out, all everyone will be talking about is Travis Rice and the Brain Farm film.
— T. Bird
SNOWBOARDER: What does The Fourth Phase hint at?
Travis Rice: Hahahaha. It hints at the fact that there’s more than meets the eye at first glance. It means that you shouldn’t fall into the habit of assumption. Obviously, there are scientific implications, but it’s also a beautiful metaphor.
What have you taken away from this film as a snowboarder?
That we who get to spend time in powder-coated mountains are really lucky, haha. Snowboarding’s a pretty magical pastime, and I think really, I’m just grateful for the support we’ve had to take the time to go and pursue something that I’ve wanted to do for my entire career.
Can you reveal any surprises or give the audience a tease regarding any of the trips or locations you guys have been to, or are you not revealing that at this juncture?
We’re not really giving any details right now, but I will say that you can decode quite a bit just by looking at the teaser. There’s actually quite a bit of information given in the teaser. We don’t give it all away but when you read between the lines and sit back and think about, we put a lot of information in there.
Who are the masterminds behind the film? The guys running the cameras and in the editing bay.
We’ve got such a great crew. We’ve had the same crew on for the last two or three years and I gotta tip my cap to them because they work harder than we do, like the places they carry fifty-pound backpacks, haha. It’s pretty insane. Our Field Director JK and our Director of Photography Greg Wheeler and beyond that, we’ve had a number of great lead cameras, from Sean Aaron to Cory Koniniec. Also, our boy Bungee. He leads logistics, which, this time around has been pretty nuts, with the amount of gear that gets toted around. I think more than anything, this film has been about taking the necessary time and immersing ourselves in the locations we’re shooting. It’s not about weather, it’s not about strike missions to follow great conditions. It’s about hunkering down and getting our fingers on the pulse of the areas that we’re filming.
What does Curt Morgan bring to the table and how is he different from other cinematographers and directors that you’ve worked with earlier in your career?
Curt brings a high level of production value. His expectations are so high for how things are shot and what the baseline is for how the footage is captured. For the last several movie projects, he’s really put a lot of effort into the immersion for the audience. Trying to bring the viewer along with us as best we can, and so Curt has helped to focus in on how that’s achieved.
Well, the films are a full-on immersive experience.
Yeah, man. At the end of the day, that’s the goal. To share a little wanderlust.
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Mark Landvik. p: Mike Yoshida
What are the pressures and expectations that you feel when undertaking these films?
There are some pressures, but ultimately, you’ve gotta have a balance of if the pressure you feel is greater coming from an external source versus internally. As long as the internal pressure is still exciting, to try to see it through, then I think it’s still in a healthy spot. It can kinda go south the minute you let outside pressures weigh in on your situation.
Do those outside pressures weigh heavily on you?
Well, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t, but we’ve had a ton of support from everyone that believes in us so we totally want to follow through with everything, but I think the important part is differentiating the difference of goals and expectations. Sometimes, expectations are setups for failure because when you set this preconceived expectation of how tings have to be, inevitably it all changes because it’s a constant evolution. But you definitely need goals, and so I think we’re more goal-oriented and we try to leave expectations at home. We have goals of the places we want to go and the level of riding that we want to bring to the table and we’re using the last film as a bit of a baseline, but I should say that we’re not necessarily trying to out-do The Art of Flight. This is not The Art of Flight 2. This is its own unique entity. It’s a different film and we have a different goal entirely and so I think we’ve really letting it evolve and we’re being really goal-oriented while keeping an open mind about how tings come to change. I mean, there have been a couple really tough winters, conditions-wise.
It really has been.
I mean literally every location that we’ve gone for the last couple years has been the same song and the same dance. You know, it’s warm, there’s a lack of precipitation, but we’ve been trying to make the best out of it. It’s like, “Okay, there’s not a lot of snow but we have a ton of sunshine, so let’s make the best out of it.”
Ultimately, with The Fourth Phase, what do you want the audience to take away from this film?
At the end of the day, if we can inspire anyone to just go outside with their friends and push themselves into a real experience in nature and maybe find a little bit of their line of uncomfortability, then I think we’ve succeeded.
Are you talking about snowboarding in particular?
I think whatever they do. Obviously, if it’s snowboarding then that’s fantastic but I think it’s definitely beyond just going out and snowboarding. It’s anything. Mountain biking, hiking, camping. It’s nuts because you’d think that with the population increase that wild places would diminishing but I think it’s almost the opposite. Sure, you have the easy-access ski resorts and whatnot and maybe the really popular snowmobile zones. Those areas are crazier than they ever have been, but I think that truly wild places are becoming even wilder.