Students take sports filmmaking to next level in ‘Stoked 101’

The genre of the outdoors sports film is well tread, and many students can attest to sitting through a roommate’s footage from a Mt. Hood ski trip, scored with obnoxious music and nauseatingly filmed with a GoPro.

This spring term, assistant professor Rick Silva led the course ARTD 410: “Stoked 101” to look into the craft behind action sports filmmaking. Silva says he dreamt of the “Stoked 101” course since he was a film student at the University of Colorado, where his professors discouraged students from producing ski films and music videos.

“I understood that, and they wanted us to experiment with a variety of different approaches,” said Silva, an assistant professor in the University of Oregon’s Art and Technology Program (formerly known as the Digital Arts Program). “But I also thought they were dismissing a whole genre; there is an entire history of thoughtful and brilliant outdoor sports films.”

Jasper Trout Marshall
Above: Jasper Trout Marshall, a local 21-year-old fly fisherman, was the subject of UO junior Makensy Venneri's documentary "Ebb & Fly," which she produced for the ARTD 410: "Stoked 101" course. “I can easily say this was my favorite production class ever,” says Venneri. Images courtesy of Makensy Venneri.

During ‘Stoked 101’—named for the sort of lingo you’d hear from the excited athletes in extreme sports videos—students produced a variety of short films, including documentaries, mockumentaries, and experimental films that blended motion graphics with drone footage.

Students’ films from “Stoked 101” will be screened at the Outdoor Program Barn at 18th and University at 6 p.m. this Friday, June 10. Silva says rafts will be inflated for seats.

In her documentary “Ebb & Fly,” UO junior Makensy Venneri followed Jasper Trout Marshall, a local 21-year-old fly fisherman. The seven-minute film was shot at the McKenzie River and the Crooked River near Bend, OR. Venneri says that she used three cameras in three locations and recorded more than 100 gigabytes of footage, which made this the largest project she’s ever directed.

“My passion is in documentary film production and I have friends who took Rick’s classes that raved about him, so when I saw that Rick was teaching an outdoor sport filmmaking class, I absolutely had to take it,” says Venneri, a cinema studies major.

Although Silva made a point of encouraging students “beyond the GoPro style” of a single point-of-view video, Venneri used the GoPro to capture underwater shots in her documentary.

“I can easily say this was my favorite production class ever,” says Venneri. “From the structure to the content, there is really nothing else offered like this at the university.”

"Ebb & Fly"
Above: "Ebb & Fly," a documentary film produced for the ARTD 410: "Stoked 101" course was filmed at the McKenzie River and the Crooked River near Bend, OR.

Another student project titled “Slip Up: The Real Story” is a comical mockumentary produced by Alex Kramer and Chris Morgan. “Slip Up” focused on Slip ‘N’ Sliding as an extreme sport, focused on the made-up character and self-proclaimed “slipper” A.J. Connors, who got into slip n’ sliding as a diversion after his father—a famed baseball player known for sliding to bases—left the family.

The film blends archival footage (as though it were filmed on a grainy VHS tape) of fabled “slipping” moments among beer-chugging athletes with earnest talking head interviews with other fictional slippers, and adrenalized recordings of friends gliding down a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

“Stoked 101” was an experimental course facilitated by the David G. Foster Endowment Fund in Fine Arts, which afforded the class to bring in guest lecturer filmmakers and let students attend the Banff Film Festival at the McDonald Theatre earlier this year.

Guest lecturers included UO graduate Nico Toll, who’s produced sports films for Nike, Burton, Smith, and other companies; Trent Ludwig, who has created movies for Snowboarder Magazine; and Ayleen Crotty, director of the Filmed by Bike Festival in Portland.

Venneri says, “I think Trent Ludwig put it really well when he said, ‘Action sport athletes are always about finding the hardest and baddest trick, and as action sport filmmakers, we have to elevate with them.’”

Image from Jonathan Williamson's short film
Above: Image from Jonathan Williamson's short film made during the course. Courtesy of Jonathan Williamson