Photos by Ted Borland // Words by Michael Goodwin
The SLUSH crew rallied up to Santa Monica last night to join Burton immediate and extended family for the Los Angeles premiere of the new Jake Burton Carpenter documentary from HBO Sports and Red Bull Media House, Dear Rider. The assembled crowd outside The Laemmie Theatre included boarding superstars like Danny Davis, Kelly Clark and Travis Rice, as well as Burton lifers, industry vets and media heads of all sorts. The usual “premiere season” buzz was certainly recognizable, intensified by an air of reverence for a man and a family who have done an incalculable amount to establish, grow, preserve and celebrate snowboarding.
The film is now available for viewing on HBOMax, so I really don’t want to give away much (you can have a read of Stan’s interview with director Fernando Villena for additional insight into the film’s production), and we recommend that you watch the movie and pass along to friends and family. As a colleague remarked, it’s the sort of film that makes you proud to be a snowboarder. And wish you were fortunate enough to pal around with Jake.
The film captures in equal measure Jake’s ingenuity, and unrelenting tenacity in pursuing a dream, as well as his fun-loving and spirited approach to the world around him, always seeking to find the joy in life, and doing his all to share it with those in his orbit. It showcases the very important role that his wife, Donna, and other family members (both blood, and otherwise) played in Burton’s founding and subsequent rise, and establishes just how important that familial bond remained to Jake and his company. It serves as a historical record – thanks in large part to the recollections of our own Pat Bridges – and pays homage to some of snowboarding’s greatest visionaries. And so much more.
Before the film began, members of the production crew, including producer Ben Bryan, executive producer George Carpenter and director Fernando Villena, addressed the crowd. Bryan thanked the Carpenter family for their tireless and invaluable research and production assistance, including helping navigate the massive “Burton basement” archive. Villena provided background context, explaining how Ben and Jake laid the groundwork for the film before his involvement, leaving behind a blueprint for him to follow, and noted Jake’s huge contribution to the project prior to his passing. It was, by nature, an emotional evening. You could hear it in George’s voice as he thanked the crowd for their support of his family, and of the company, and reiterated that he considered everyone gathered part of one whole - a larger, snowboarding family. As George spoke, Donna reached over to hold Villena’s hand.
As the 2022 Winter Olympics draw nearer, snowboarding is once again sliding into the mainstream gaze, making this film and the timing of its release even more important as a counterweight to some of the commercialism and corniness that inevitably follow the Games. Among many other things, Dear Rider captures many core tenets that were central to Jake Burton, the man and the movement, principles that continue to define what snowboarding is really all about to this day.