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His actions may seem unintentional. He may seem aloof, tired or irresponsible. But oddly enough Austin Will has achieved success through talent, a gruesome work ethic and taking advantage of his opportunities. I’ve seen him at the depths of a 5-hour energy drink addiction, a month into a project, un-showered and unkempt, but that drive has paid off. At 22 years-old Austin is able to live off his art, and his work with companies from Nike to ESPN, Nemo Design to VBS.TV, Airblaster and more are proof of his skill. For all of you interested in film, this is one to watch out for.
What came first; film or snowboarding?
Got super psyched on both of them around 12-ish. I’d hijack my dads hi-8 family camera & film all Summer. In the Winter I’d ride after school or whenever I could.Â Riding with Jarad (Hadi), Nick (Dirks), you & Tyler (Verigan) I was the less talented fool sliding slippery down the hill, so filming was a natural option.
How did you make the transition from homie with a camera to guy with a job?
Well, I’ll always be a homie filmer. Â Filming with your best friends is as good as it gets. But, the transition into getting paid is a funny story. I was working at Exit Real World, or showing up once in a while. One night this dude Chris Hotz came in with his wife. Super rad dude, mentioned he was one of the owners of Nemo Design, I’d heard of it ‘cus of Robot Food.Â He told me to cruise in whenever and check it out, so I did. Â First day was unforgettable. I walked in the front door, there was rock music blaring, a dude is jumping on a full-sized trampoline in the main lobby, people skating around, drinking beers from their keg. Dude, it looked like the best time. Made work look fun.Â So, I ended up interning for a year and working full time for another. Full time wasn’t Monday through Friday, 9-5 though. It was all the time; weekends, all nighters, birthdays, fourth of July. It was intense. But l learned the ropes in a fast paced work environment.Â Needless to say they helped me out more than I can ever explain. Getting to work with Trevor Graves, Mark Lewman, Chris Hotz & the crew was sick.
Austin considers the narrator (Trevor Graves) a mentor. Trevor considers the G11 shit.
So you lucked out?
Wait, wait, wait… First freelance job I ever did I got paid in weed. Two ounces for an editing job. I didn’t even smoke weed, but I was so hyped. Gave it all out to my buddies. That was classic. All traded out in the Burgerville parking lot on Powell.
Do you have a ritual to keep you from sleeping?
The all-nighter is inevitable. If you love the project, it’s no problem. I lived off Five hour energies, coffee, cigs’ & bagels with no sleep for months.
What are you up to now?
This Friday I get to fly to Russia with (Nick) Dirks, Brandon Cocard, Ben Lynch & Jesse Grandkowski to shoot their trip. I’m stoked, I’m mostly going to shoot super-8. It’s my chance to do something I’m hyped on. Those dudes over at Airblaster really get it. They’ve given me a ton of creative freedom.
What’s this trip to Russia all about?
Airblaster in Russia. I’ve never been to that part of the world and I get to go with some of my best friends. I’m so pumped. We’ll be in Moscow for a few days, then off to this place called Transcaucasia.
Are you nervous to be in Russia with Nick Dirks?
No way, thats the hype. Nick and I have hung out since we were 16 or so and this is the first trip we’ll be on together.
You’re not worried that you’re headed to Russia with a heavily tattooed wild child? Russia, the country with tattooed gangsters and no sense of humor…
Why would that worry me? Makes me excited. Plus, what are the odds Nick re-creates the Lebanon Hezbollah situation. I’ve been watching some Cold War documentaries. I bet that was way worse.
Part 3 of Airblaster’s Family Portrait, starring Nick Dirks.
Rumor has it you’re a bona fide Rap Music Video Director?
First off, I never got reimbursed for the hard costs of the first one.Â I’ve been approached five or six times this past year by Portland based rappers.Â I turned them all down. What I do for work is fun, but when you have to deal with idiots it takes a lot of the excitement out of it.
What’s the worst gig you ever took? And why?
Worst gig I ever had was helping my friend edit a wedding video he shot three years earlier.
Worst day at work?
Right before I got the in with Nemo my computer and camera were stolen and my hard-drive crashed. Basically I had nothing, but was still super motivated to make something happen.
I’m not sure if Austin wants us to see this, but it’s a great look at his early work.
In a sense youy job is to work with some of the biggest names in snowboarding. Does it give you a greater appreciation of snowboarding, or make it all seem stupid?
Sometimes it’s so surreal. It’s funny when your young you idolize certain people and look up to everything they do. Â Then you grow up & realize they are normal dudes.
When I was interviewing Terry Kidwell for a Nike/Nemo Winter Olympic’s project, that was a pretty surreal moment. Actually as soon as I finished Trevor Graves and I had to jet out of the hotel to this other location.Â I was so frazzled by the interview and what was going on that I forgot to zip-up my backpack and launched my laptop across the room, past the carpet, straight into the tile. Thing exploded like Fourth of July. After that Trevor told me a story about when he did that rushing to a job and smashed all his camera gear.
For me, strangest thing was I wasn’t even snowboarding when Terry Kidwell was in his prime. I guess it’s like if I met Buzz Aldrin.
What do up-and-comers need to know?
People will say you need to have all this fancy shit, but you really just need a solid idea and be able to deliver something cool. If you think you need the newest HD 3-D iPhone with prime time lenses & a computer with two monitors to edit you’re so wrong. If you can make a sweet project with minimal resources I think that shows true creativity. Tech style, you’ll need Final Cut Pro (its expensive, figure out how to steal it).
One of Austin’s more entertaining edits for sure. Watch and learn.
What’s the worst way you’ve ever blown your bank account?
Well of course there was the $600 trip to Sassy’s. My needy girlfriend isn’t the worst way, but that does happen.I forgot $200 bucks in an ATM before. Oh, and one time I went to New Zealand. Â Everything was amazing except I blew eight grand in two weeks. Â Most I’ve gotten paid in two weeks & most I’ve spent in two weeks. That was ridiculous.
Would you shoot porn?
Everything is a learning opportunity. That would be an interesting one.
Do you ever worry you’ll end up shooting and editing weddings? Or opening some crap editing studio in a suburban mini-mall?Â
Not at all. I’d never let it get to that point. That sounds like such a wet-fart of a life.
I feel like someone said, “Hey Austin, make ’em look cool.”
What is your end goal, what do you really want to do?
Direct & produce feature films, commercials, music videos, etc.–to create something memorable. Â Something future generations can get excited about. I want to leave a mark.
Last Call: How do you feel about GoPro cameras on poles?
I went up to Baldface Lodge with Jesse, Travis & Leanne.Â There was this dude that filmed every run GoPro on a pole. I ended up getting all his footage. Over an hour of raw footy. It was 90% of it is him standing there, 5% is him pulling himself out of a tree-well & the other 5% is mellow riding.Â I put all the footage in a time line. The movies called “Wait for it, That’s all.” Nothing ever happens