Ed Leigh’s 5 Favourite Surf, Snow and Skate Films

Here’s what episode 001 and 050 guest Ed Leigh is watching while on lockdown in his Wanaka ‘quamuune’ on New Zealand’s South Island.

Listen to Ed’s two podcast episodes here and here.

1. The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding, Jerome Tanon, 2016.

“My first choice is Jerome Tanon’s magnum opus The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding. A beautiful, funny and honest search for some kind of meaning in snowboarding AND a send up of the way all snowboarding ‘content’ has traditionally been compiled. Being funny about snowboarding is next to impossible — Jerome managed it. A must-see”.

2. Litmus, Val Dusty Experiment, 1996

Litmus is hands-down my favourite surf movie. Made in 1996 by Andrew Kidman and Jon Frank during an era when the surf industry was on a fast track path to corporate status, and professional surfers were all riding the same toothpick 6’1 board on perfect waves in the freshly discovered Ments.

This film was the antidote. It featured the most stylish and creative surfers from different generations surfing all over the world and — most tellingly for a Northern European surfer — almost all of them were wearing rubber.

The standouts are Joel Fitzgerald exploring his roots and the empty slabs of Ireland long before it was popularised, Tom Curren doing a Jim Davidson and playing the theme tune to his own part and an Occy cameo at Bells pre-comeback that looks like the template Andy Irons used to build his backhand surfing.

I truly believe that while the Momentum Generation were hacking waves to bits, this carefully curated look at some of surfing’s greats and the brilliant array of craft they were using was the catalyst that saw the church of surfing open its doors to a much broader congregation. At the time it was super controversial because it addressed drug abuse and addiction in surfing which had long been the elephant in the room.

Throw in the soundtrack from The Val Dusty Experiment (Kidman and Frank’s band) and the animated dream sequence right in the middle of the film and you have a mid-90s classic”.

DVD available here or on Amazon Prime if you sign up for a free trial here.

3. La Liste, Timeline Productions, 2016

“Like all good things, the recipe is simple; Jeremie Heitz makes a list of fifteen 4000m peaks he wants to ski and over the course of two winters tries to knock them off.

The concept is brilliantly executed by a skier who draws on the history of each descent to both educate and illustrate exactly how mental what he’s doing actually is. Heitz is operating at a completely different level to everyone else here. It still blows my mind even on what must be my 14th or 15th watch”.

Watch the whole film for free on Red Bull TV here.

4. Public Domain, Stacey Peralta, 1987

“This was a very tough call because there are just so many incredible skate films from this era that had an indelible effect on my style, attitude and life choices. But Public Domain was the first skate film I ever saw and it got rinsed on our VHS so much even my mum would sing along to McRad.

Hokus Pokus was epic, I loved the Santa Cruz Streets of Fire and Speed Freaks films (mainly for Neil Blender and Steve Claar), but if I had to pinpoint one it would be Public Domain.

Just look at the people featured, who to this day are regarded as cornerstones of style, progression and — as time has shown — longevity. Ray Barbee, Rodney Mullen, a very young Danny Way, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero and Tony Hawk, to name but a few.

The soundtrack and skits between sections were mind-blowing at the time. There was just nothing else like it in the media and I remember feeling lucky and privilege to have discovered it and to be a part of it. I still get that feeling, maybe even amplified by nostalgia, when I watch it today”.

Copies of Public Domain are available here.

5. Pop, Absinthe, 2004

“This is was another very tough call, because in this era there were some incredible riders working with some brilliant filmers (After Bang anyone?). But there is no question that at the height of their powers Justin Hostynek and Patrick Armbruster were the riders’ choice of film maker.

It’s tough to single one out, but Pop for me was the zenith, a film that captured the point that Travis Rice, Romain De Marchi, Gigi Ruf and Nicholas Mueller had all moved out of the park and began to apply the same freestyle principles to the backcountry with devastating effect. Check out some of the big mountain switch set ups for proof.

This was the Golden Age of massive kickers, and this crew of riders were all egging each other on to such an insane level that even today the jumps stand up. The soundtrack, as ever with Absinthe, is impeccable and fits the character and style of each section. More than a decade-and-half on from its premiere, this is still a joy to watch”.