Danny Davis Shares Behind-The-Scenes Look At New Snowboard Film ‘ARK,’ Now Streaming - Forbes
Share on facebook

Danny Davis Shares Behind-The-Scenes Look At New Snowboard Film ‘ARK,’ Now Streaming - Forbes

Cast and crew filming new snowboard film ARK
There is no shortage of new ski and snowboard films debuting this season to get you in the shredding spirit. But some films stand out for their ethos—what they’re aiming to accomplish and the spirit in which they were made. And ARK, a new snowboard film created by a group of 11 friends that is streaming beginning December 8, is one of those special ones.
Filming spanned the globe, from British Columbia to Japan, Austria to Alaska. The riders themselves are also based around the world, and that’s what informed the film’s name. “Snowboarding is this ark or this vessel that we use to be together, no matter if we’re 100 miles apart of thousands of miles apart,” professional snowboarder and executive producer Danny Davis told me by phone prior to the film’s Tahoe premiere.
Also premiering on Thursday is Radical Sabbatical, which is essentially a companion film to ARK. “It’s not a behind the scenes at all; it gives a little bit more context to our season—the jump-building, the antics on the road, all the B- and C-grade footage that didn’t make it into people’s parts,” Davis said.
That film’s title describes the feeling that riders like Davis, Mark McMorris and Brock Crouch—all accomplished contest riders who have competed in everything from X Games, the Burton U.S. Open, Dew Tour and the Olympics—have when they get to take a break from contests and travel for a filming project.
It’s a “little sabbatical” where the riders can wait for perfect conditions and exist outside the rigid schedule of the competition circuit.
“We’re doing this other thing that’s within our job that feels like we’re having fun but we’re working,” Davis said. “It felt like that side of our movie project shows you the grass is greener a bit.”
With ARK, Davis serves as an executive producer for the second time in his career. The first was for his own film, 2018’s All in a Dream, which documented the fallout from a bad crash that derailed his Olympic aspirations.
It was a vastly different experience than, say, the one he just had filming a part for Ben Ferguson’s new film Fleeting Time.
“Whenever you get asked, ‘Do you want to come film for my project?” it’s always a yes,” Davis said. “You’re probably gonna cover your flight, and you get there, snowboard, do your thing and you’re done.”
Serving as an EP, on the other hand, involves a lot of backend work—seeking out sponsors to set a budget, licensing music rights, planning helicopter trips. His agent’s help was indispensable in that regard.
“Working on the backend of the movie makes it more satisfying to go to these premieres and see people are really stoked,” Davis said. “It’s much more of a job than someone’s who’s a professional snowboarder is really used to,” he added with a laugh.
What made ARK unique for Davis is that it’s part-based, which was new for him—his previous films have been more narrative in nature.
Riders featured in the film include Davis, Crouch, McMorris, Elena Hight, Gigi Rüf, Mark Sollors, Mikey Rencz, Mikey Ciccarelli, Mikkel Bang, Nick Russell and Raibu Katayama.
Filming new snowboard film ARK
Hight has the distinction of opening the film with her part. “Giving a girl opening part in a movie is pretty rare, but we weren’t doing it because she’s a woman in what’s a bit of a men’s movie,” Davis said. “We did it because she’s got one of the best parts in the movie—giving her opener was the only choice.”
Other films that have given female big-mountain snowboarders a platform—and allowed riders like Hight to transition from the competition side of the sport to filming—include 2009’s Stance, 2016’s Full Moon and 2020’s Blank Canvas (the latter of which Hight anchored), but, as Davis points out, even in 2022, women receiving opening parts isn’t as common as it should be.
At the film’s premieres, which were held in Burlington, Vermont; Santa Monica, California; Denver, Colorado; Tahoe, California; Laguna Beach, California; Park City, Utah; and Whistler, British Columbia, Davis has consistently received positive feedback for the soundtrack.
Each rider picked their own songs for their part. “The music shows you a little bit about what the rider is about,” he said. “Brock’s reggae is different than Mark’s hip-hop, A$AP Ferg. It was really fun to put it in the hands of the riders.”
The music also represents a collaboration among friends—built by snowboarders and skateboarders who are “all shredders of some sort,” Davis said.
Given the film’s modest budget, the riders and crew had to find some lesser-known music. They also featured music by friends in the industry.
Former professional snowboarder and musician Luke Mitrani, brother of X Games personality Jack Mitrani, appears on the soundtrack. Radical Sabbatical features a rap song by skateboarder Zion Wright.
Davis’ part is set to a song by Hugh Masekela, the “father of South African jazz” and also the late father of action sports tour de force Selema Masekela.
The vastly different music selections helped showcase the personalities of each of the film’s riders, and the end result is a collaborative love letter to snowboarding.
“It really was not my movie, because everyone kind of came together to fund this thing,” Davis said, calling it a “family affair” with deep industry support.
Davis’ sponsors MTN Dew and Burton, which also worked with him (as well as McMorris, Crouch, Sollers, Rencz, Ciccarelli, Bang and Katayama) on the film One World in 2020, were “instrumental” in producing the film, Davis said.
“A lot of the riders paid their own way—helicopter boarding in Alaska for two weeks, it’s really not cheap,” Davis added. “The editors, the filmers—everyone in a big way did this for the love of snowboarding and the love they have for the industry.”
Danny Davis filming new snowboard film ARK
Hight brought some of her sponsors onboard, as did Russell and Crouch. Snowboard boot company Boa doesn’t sponsors many films but came to the table for ARK; other sponsors included Fat Tire, Woodward, Dragon, Oura, Arc’teryx, SLUSH, Profanity and Frame Removal.
“It is harder and harder to get brands behind film projects and get money—I think it’s harder and harder to probably make it as a snowboarder,” Davis said. “But we’re so lucky to have brands like MTN Dew, Burton and Dragon to really support us.”
Both films will be available on Outside Watch—web browser, iPhone/Android apps and the Outside Watch TV app. The platform has been increasing its action sports offerings this year, having just announced a partnership this season to stream all U.S. FIS World Cup alpine, cross country, freestyle, snowboard and freeski events on all Outside platforms.
“Outside has been awesome,” Davis said. “They’re trying to make it a little more of a home, so people know they can go there and find some cool action sports content.”