The wakeskate independent film by Andrew Roehm, Istudiomo, recently had its second premier in downtown Orlando, and it did not disappoint.
Istudiomo was premiered at the popular bar, Magnolia, and was filled with people from both the wakeskate and wakeboard industry. This hour-long feature that has been four years in the making took its audience around the world with an array of riders. The film was heavy hitting from beginning to end and featured several tricks that we saw at Wake Awards as nominations for the Indmar Trick of the Year. It was also full of some of the craziest crashes you’ve seen on film. The boys involved in this really put themselves on the line in more ways than one. We sat down with Andrew to ask him what it’s like to see four years of dedication towards this project come to an end.
Where did the name Istudiomo come from?
It sort of just came from nowhere, just popped into my head randomly while driving one day. I think it looks nice visually as a typographic logo and I just liked the sound of it when I said it aloud… I get this question more than any other, but just to possibly reduce the number of them occurring in the future… I pronounce the first letter like the ‘i’ in the word ‘igloo’ then the traditional English pronunciation of the word ‘studio’ and then ‘mo’ like ‘motion’… but honestly, it’s just a made-up word so any pronunciation is fine, whatever suits you… That was kind of the point though. I didn’t want the name to have any particular pronunciation, meaning, or defined style. I didn’t want the name to define the product; I wanted the product to define the name.
Who were all the riders involved?
Our squad is pretty deep… We have some of the more of the familiar faces to the scene like Nick Taylor and Andrew Pastura, but we’ve got a good balance going with some fresh new faces really setting a new standard for quality and creativity in wakeskating with guys like Cole Kraiss and Matti Buys, but altogether there are thirteen guys featured in Istudiomo: Cole Kraiss, Yan Lecomte, Travis Belsito, Nick Taylor, Andrew Fortenberry, Bret Little, Ollie Moore, David Roehm, Nick Robinson, Andrew Pastura, Matti Buys, Braden Ioi, and Collin Gee make up our roster, but Bammer Rehn is pretty much an honorary member of the crew by this point.
What were all the locations you shot at and which were some of your most memorable?
We trekked it across the entire continental United States coast to coast. In regards to all the domestic locations we shot at I probably had the most memorable experiences romping through the deserts in Arizona and Nevada with like 8 or 9 of the guys from the Istudiomo crew or venturing through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. As for international stuff, we made a couple trips over to Africa, Australia, and Asia. We covered a lot of ground for this film, to my knowledge, more than any wakeskate film before it.
Where can somebody get a copy of Istudiomo as well as the coffee table book?
The film will be available online through our website and various other places December 15th. We’re still sorting some of that stuff out but it won’t be hard to find. The coffee table books we made for the film and Istudiomo as a whole are available for pre-order now actually. There are only 100 copies up for grabs and we’ve already had a bunch of pre-orders. You can pick up your own copy of the book at www.typical.supply/istudiomo. They are pretty awesome. The book is 370 pages containing hundreds of photos, articles, interviews, and stories from the production of the film. But personally, the coolest thing about the book I think is that you will every now and then while flipping through come across these QR codes inside that unlock exclusive video content you can only find inside the book. This video content are pieces that aren’t designed to be published or to go public and some of them aren’t even done yet, but they’ll be unlocked and available to view inside the book at different periods throughout 2018. The Istudiomo Lookbook: The book that keeps on giving!
What were some of the challenges with creating Istudiomo?
Can I say everything? Because seriously every aspect of Istudiomo was a challenge. I had no real professional training for any of this. Everything was self- taught and learned on the fly; with that comes a ton of inherent challenges. The web design, the print design, magazine publication, organizing production, managing trips and riders, coordinating premieres, and the whole business side of Istudiomo like customer relations, social interaction, general marketing, and collaborating with different media groups or brands, it was all stuff I had come across before but never part of a singular media project, where all of it was going on simultaneously. It’s something usually reserved for a team of people running a company but I somehow needed to navigate it solo. So yeah… it was a pretty new and challenging experience, I enjoyed it a lot. Something I’d regret not mentioning too is that Istudiomo has been a completely independent project. We have had no formal backing from brands and we received no budget other than what we were able to scrape together as a group. Istudiomo’s funding came almost entirely from a select few from the crew and extremely generous wakeskaters who donated to support the project. The guys in this video put their own dollars down to make it on trips and took time off work to go stack footage in some faraway places. Each of them faced some of their own unique difficulties to overcome for this film to happen. Of the thirteen athletes in this film two of them are paid a livable wage for their riding, two of them. I’d like anyone who’s reading this to really think about that for a second… There’s a lot of things about Istudiomo that probably would have been less difficult or come out more polished or professional if we had more budget or formal backing or had I gone through a formal process of training for these things, but I think it would have lost a lot of its character and unique qualities that truly make Istudiomo one of a kind.
Four years is a long time to create a video. Why so long and how did this make Istudiomo different from other videos out there?
Four years is an incredibly long time. Sorry about that… Luckily, I didn’t announce to the public this project was underway until about a year into production. I think they’d be calling for my head if they had to wait another year for Istudiomo. But yeah four years is a really long time to work on a film, I blame a portion of that on school, the first two years of production I was finishing up university, but after that my time and energy was 100% Istudiomo. That being said, regardless of school, Istudiomo was always destined to take that long. Istudiomo at the heart of it isn’t a video, but more of a long form media project, that resembles more of a free and adless media company than just your typical wake movie. Istudiomo pumped out free content to the public for three years, a 370-page coffee table book, and then crescendos with a full-length wakeskate film encapsulating everything that came before it, what a surprise it wasn’t financially viable.
What was one or two of the craziest moments filming Istudiomo?
Probably the slam that put Drew (Pastura) into the hospital for four days in South Africa. The whole experience was completely unreal. Drew slams on this insane spot, I’d try to describe it but it’s best to just see it for yourself in the movie, but afterward the most unbelievable series of events unfold for us for everything to somehow, miraculously, work out in the end.
Firstly, the slam could have easily killed him, like truly a 50/50 chance. The winch bogged as Drew was taking an aggressive edge into the spot and it ended up giving Drew a bunch of slack in the air right after he popped and for this spot you needed an insane amount of speed to clear some nasty stuff in order to reach the critical landing zone, but he didn’t make it. His arm and hip took the brunt of the impact on a jagged and filthy slab of concrete steps, beneath brown cascading rapids, and while we didn’t initially know the seriousness of the slam, Drew clinching his arm yelling ‘Hospital!’ over and over was all I needed to hear to spring into action.
The whole crew scattered throughout this property more than 500 yards apart all perfectly performed the world’s fastest pack up. We all instantly knew our jobs and we were on the road for the nearest ER in less than five minutes. Here’s the kicker… the nearest hospital was less than 3 minutes away… we were out the water, packed up, and in an ER in less than 10 minutes.
So, we get Drew to the hospital and realize his arm has a deep laceration around his elbow and his hip has got some gruesome road rash that’s bleeding everywhere, we feared the worst. Worried about internal bleeding from the impact, torn ligaments and tendons, and terrible infection considering how incredibly dirty the water we were winching was, so much could go wrong. We get escorted out of the room as the doctors and nurses get to work on Drew. As we wait for the doctors to finish up with Drew time slows down and we feel like we’ve been waiting an eternity. To help pass the time we get to chatting with some locals and employees of the hospital and come to learn that this random hospital just so happened to be right next to this winch spot considered one of the very best in the country, and Drew’s doctor is the best the hospital had to offer, what are the odds of that? Crazy.
They added that if we had gone to any other hospital in the area our story could have easily unfolded very differently, amputation wouldn’t have been outside the realm of possibility., which sounds nuts considering what we know now. Anyway… The doctor calls us into the room. He informs us that Drew’s gash and road rash is extremely serious and needs medical attention to prevent infection, but that’s as far as it goes. Aside from those two things and some deep tissue bruising he came out of his slam unscathed, his tests and x-rays showed no torn ligaments or tendons, no cut veins or arteries, no broken bones, no internal bleeding, nothing, once you see the footage you truly won’t understand how that’s even possible. We all collectively released a sigh of relief.
Drew would go on to have three separate sedated surgeries for excavation and deep cleaning of his wound due to the extreme filthiness of the water we were winching in. True to form though, Drew, only a month and a half later, would go on to ride in the first wakeskate tour stop in 2017 and like always make it through to the finals.
How do you feel the film has been received so far?
After the first two premieres I am pretty pleased with the reception. It’s always nice to hear someone say something good about the thing you’ve worked really hard on for so long, but it’s never really been about that. While it’s cool that the film has been received well by the wakeskate community and the larger wake community as a whole, for me all I really care about are the opinions of the guys who were out there grinding day in and day out with me; and putting time, energy, money into this project and their bodies on the line to make the performances in this film truly unparalleled.
How does it feel to come to the end of this long project?
It’s honestly really odd. I’ve had so much time to plan this project out and I’ve known what I was going to do and what was coming next for so long with this project. I had daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly schedules, itineraries, goals, and deadlines to meet, one after the other. So just practically speaking approaching those last deadlines, and those last releases is pretty surreal. I mean I’m writing these answers to you guys with essentially everything media related done and now just awaiting December 15th. It’s an interesting place to be in after four years of a go-to routine not knowing what’s going to come next…
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Oh man, there’s so many people. I’ll keep it super brief. I’ve got a longer thank you in the credits of the film and those of you who were instrumental in the making of this whole media project, you know who you are. But I’d like to formally thank my parents and Nick Taylor… If I go much further beyond that I’d just be doing those instrumental people a disservice if I forgot to mention any of them. But yeah Istudiomo would not exist without my parents and Nick Taylor, no question. And thank you to Wakeboarding Magazine for this interview, it’s been a pleasure.