In detailing his “miles of styles,” the rapper Freddie Foxxx once said you must be out your brain to think he’s not the nicest in the game.
Using the same vernacular, Vail-area locals Taylor Seaton and John Spriggs have done something similar, through a new era of ski film which has disrupted the old model so rapidly, and so intensely, that anyone who was part of that bygone era now viewing these modern capabilities can only say “well that must be nice.”
Spriggs, Seaton and filmer Ed Clem called in a small crew of skiers (and snowboarders, with Spriggs himself showing off some impressive skills on a bindingless ‘pow surfer’) to help with their newest project, and if you expect to keep up with that crew then, well, you’d better be nice with it, in a Freddie Foxxx kind of way.
Therein lies a few of the many entendres revealed in the title of Seaton and Spriggs new short film, “Must Be Nice.”
But the film is more than a showcase of the crew’s miles of styles — through his lens, Clem is able to tell the story of Spriggs’ simple satisfaction with the fact that he’s at this point of his career, only to realize just how fleeting the moment might be.
The film is dedicated to Johnny Kuo, a close friend of Spriggs, who was killed in an avalanche in East Vail while Spriggs was in Montana creating the film.
“Must Be Nice“ will make its local premiere on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk theater in Edwards. It will also feature two other short ski films just released this fall, and your $12 ticket will enter you into a raffle where ski-related gear will be given away between films.
‘Now we’re big boys’
“Must Be Nice” features incredible big mountain lines, large jumps, and camera angles and shots which were only possible with a massive budget just 10-15 years ago.
Spriggs was part of that era in his early 20s; he was featured in five Warren Miller films between 2005 and 2009, and continued to film into the 2010s with high-profile companies like Teton Gravity Research.
“You had to film with a film company that had all the gear, all the filmers, all the budgets,” Spriggs said. “You were there to ski, and they made the movie.”
Now in his mid-30s, Spriggs still has the skills to attempt to earn those big film parts, but has chosen to go the independent route in recent years.
“We learned from those big film companies, it taught us a lot,” he said.
Spriggs says while working with a small crew of friends makes for a much bigger workload in getting to a finished product, he finds it more rewarding. He also said his crew has matured to the point where they’re able to afford more of their own personal time and money to invest in the project.
“Now we’re big boys and we can fund our own gear and fund our own seasons without having to rely on these meager budgets that their sponsors might give you,” Spriggs said. “We’re older now, we can get our own sponsors, do our own thing and have our own freedom.”
Freedom to fly
The creative freedom of independent filmmaking allowed Spriggs and Seaton to incorporate into “Must Be Nice” something you don’t see in ski movies anymore: A halfpipe segment.
Seaton, a member of the U.S. Ski Team with Olympic dreams in the competitive arena of the halfpipe, shows off the many axis points and rotational directions a skier can flip and spin in the halfpipe in “Must Be Nice,” while discussing how that has helped him in other realms of skiing.
In 2018, Seaton became the first X Games competitor ever to land halfpipe run that contained five 900s spun in different directions.
“Taylor is not your average halfpiper and I’m glad we were able to show how much variety he brings to that discipline,” Spriggs said.
While there’s been halfpipe skiers to make movies in recent years, Seaton said it’s been more than a decade since a ski movie featured a halfpipe segment.
“The last one I know of is Tanner Hall ‘The Massive’ from 2008,” Seaton said. “My friends are like ‘What? You got to make a professional halfpipe segment for a ski movie? Must be nice!“