By Joey Leppien
Let me paint you a picture; you wake up, the forecast called for 8 inches of snow, you and all of your friends were planning on hitting a spot and you had everything all lined up. You open your eyes a little wider and make your way across the room to look out the window in excitement of what mother nature was supposed to have brought upon you, and the fun times that were to be had today. What do you see? the projected 8 inches of snow? Wrong. You see a measly 2 inches or so, drifted up in your yard in a cold, depressing tundra of midwest meteorological tomfoolery. So what do you do? You slip back into your bed and open Tinder in hopes that maybe you can mask the pain of yet another storm let-down, but only end up on Instagram looking at all the storms rolling through the west coast, repeatedly debating whether or not you should “bitch out and move west”? If you’re the Flanel Lifestyles team, you roll out of the bed, take some Advil to relieve the lingering pain of the prior nights mistakes, hop into Tyler’s mini van or Mikes Kia, you send it up north, and figure that shit out. Today, we sit down with Flanel Lifestyles’ lead man, most-posted filmer on Yobeat, and the driving force behind this years Flanel full movie ‘When It Happens’.
Alright first off, give us a little background on Mike Harrington. ASL?
American Sign Language?
Ugh, Age/Sex/Location. Didn’t you have AIM or MySpace?
I Googled ASL when you said that, yeah I had a MySpace and I rigidly managed my top 8, it was like a feat if you broke into it. But yeah I just turned 25, I am a man and I’m from Northern Michigan, Petoskey to be exact. It’s a pretty small town status but it’s within 3 hours of every major city so it’s kind of a good base hub.
I like to think that if I knew you back then, I’d be your top friend. When did you first pick up a camera?
I think I was like 14 or 15, I had a video productions class and I didn’t really have any interest in it at the time so my friends and I would just film pretty awful snowboard videos because it was just what we were doing. I was in a rejected edit once.
Love at first shot. p: Scott Smith
Happy 10 year anniversary! Which rejected edit?
I don’t even remember which one it is at this point, I just remember not submitting it and it ending up there. I’ve never submitted an edit to Yobeat so I usually just like how stuff shows up on here. I’ve had like more than 20 edits on here and I’m surprised each and every time.
Your work speaks for itself! Do you ever see yourself putting down the camera and catching a random 9-5 gig?
I don’t actually get paid to do any of this stuff really, we just do it for fun so I actually work about over 40 hours a week in the first place I just spend literally the rest of my time filming snowboarding. I’ve had a couple relationships end because all I focus on is filming and driving constantly to get somewhere to film. I’ve had a couple paying filming gigs snowboarding, but in the Midwest it’s kind of barren for those opportunities.
Yeah, consider that occupational costs. On that note, do you think you might be on a somewhat different path if you had started filming somewhere less ‘barren’?
Honestly, my videos probably wouldn’t go anywhere if I didn’t film in Michigan particularly. When I started filming a little more seriously there wasn’t many people filming in the state at the time so we got to help build something from the ground up. There has been a bunch more crews that have popped up since with the re-emergence of Cannonsburg in the past 7 or so years, the little revolution that was Hawk Island and now more and more kids are hitting street here.
What’s your best memory of Hawk Island? You know I like to reflect, too.
By far the last party weekend there right before they shut down for good that also happened to be my birthday weekend. People from every part of the state showed up just to ride like the four features that were set up. The rope kept falling off the spindle, I got kicked off the tubes for trying to catch tranny on the wallride and Spencer Whiteman was drinking the water from the melted manmade snow. Everything was pretty much falling over or apart, but we didn’t care.
Tranny Catchin’ Tubes. p: Jon Mollema
Glory days, dude. I’m gonna add a link to that edit. Who are some of the up-and-comers around Michigan? You can name individuals as well as crews if you want.
Pretty much if you just go to Cannonsburg and sit there, you’ll see some insane kid. You got Brett Kulas, Linden Cool and Avery Erickson to name a couple. Then at Mt. Holly you have Ruhle making the park and he’s constantly on fire riding his own setups. In the Upper Peninsula you have the 1-800 kids who will break all the chairs at your premiere and set the grass on fire, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, those kids hit some big spots. I’m also supposed to shout out Adam Rottschafer, so I think I’ll insert that here.
The 1-800xFlanel aftermath.
All the homies, I have to get my jaw off the floor every time I watch those kids ride. Name off some of your biggest idols/influences in the snowboarding and/or videography world.
I was giant Crapneto fan when I growing up, If you don’t know what that is it it’ll look dated now, but it was like a web series in the mid 2000’s, so it felt like the first time I was exposed to snowboard videos online. I used to watch that stuff in the library in like 7th grade. I was also really into RobotFood movies like Afterlame because that particular set of riders looked like they were having so much fun and they presented it that way, too. I used to watch like any edit Eddie Grams made so like older Camp of Champions sessions then the Varietypack videos he made, those were my favorite. Also, I was huge fan of Autumnline videos like Technicolor because they showcased a lot of Midwest riders and spots.
Okay now, let’s get to the main talking point; This years full length film ‘When It Happens’. Give me a little rundown.
Well I remember reading an article on here about how El Nino was going to totally just floor the Midwest as far as winter goes and not believing it at all. Turns out that it 100% did happen and our winter was the worst it’s been in like 7 years. I remember there was a point at almost the end of December when I was laying on my friend’s couch, and I had just gotten done with watching the entire anthology of Workaholics in 3 days because there was no snow at all. Some of the ski resorts didn’t even open up until the beginning of January, it was a mess. Once it did finally snow in like the middle of January, we had to take literally any chance we could to film a shot. We would storm chase, go out and film at 3 am if the snow was going to be gone the next day or hit 3 spots a day, even if we were dead tired. Somehow we made a video that we’re even more proud of due to the fact it was so hard to make. We even made a trip specifically to Flint because that was the place with the most snow at one point. Trevor tried to get me to drink some of the coffee there, but I didn’t want to die. I’m pretty sure I’m quoting Spencer when he told me if the lead in the water doesn’t get you, the lead in the bullets will. It wasn’t that sketchy though.
Dusty Miller. p: Dylan Wade
Mac Eckstrand and Mike. p: Jack Harris
The weak winter might have been a little easier on your Kia, though. What part of this years movie are you most excited about?
The Kia died, RIP. I should have dedicated the movie to that thing, 120,000 miles dedicated specifically to snowboard filming across 3 years.
:(L little guy probably had no idea how essential he was to the process.
That car was a legend. As far as what part I’m excited for people to see from the video this year, it’s probably Jackie’s part. We now have a girl in our video and she shows up the guys. Filming her ender, which may have been her first shot of the year, was pretty amazing because the guys were sketched out by that rail. Generally, aluminum kinks aren’t that forgiving.
Jackie Lammert. p: Dusty Miller
Jackie is the fucking raddest. Can you give a couple highlights from the movie or a couple things in particular that we can keep our eyes peeled for?
Matty Mills running into signs, closeouts and generally all things that can be run into. He shattered his knee while filming for Take Care and I think this year he was trying to shatter everything else. You get to see Sam Schowalter bleed out of his head and Tyler May take a 20 ft. gap to rail to blackout concussion. We filmed a lot of spots that we looked at in different ways than we usually would as evidenced in Charlie and Dusty’s parts. Also if you pay close attention, you’ll see Lucas Magoon for a half a second, thanks to Beef for filming Kulas’ ender!
Sounds hectic and also incredible. Is the movie done? Or in the finishing stages?
It’ll be done by when this is out for sure, but I’m finishing it right now. We had our video barely done for the premiere, I think it finished exporting at like 11 pm and we played it at midnight. Everyone told me they were blitzed and didn’t remember anything from the night before. I pretty much scrapped 50% of that version and have spent the past two weeks reediting so I’m at about like 2 days without sleep right now trying to finish it for when this comes out. I guess I like working under pressure. I had to do this interview after my job and I just have to return to editing right afterwards and it’s like 1 a.m., my time. I’m surprised my beard hasn’t turned white again.
Well Mike, I think we did it. Any thank you’s or shoutouts to anyone before we wrap this up?
I usually have a laundry list of names to thank but hopefully those people know who they are by now. Thanks to everybody who helps us make these videos because it’s just a giant collaboration between everyone in the state, we just all help each other out I think that’s a really distinct Midwest type of thing. Big thanks to Jimmy Egas and Charles Beck. Huge thanks to my entire crew of guys I film with which spans like over 30 different people at some points in the season. Thanks Calley May for the cake and the baked goods. And I said I try and shout him out 100 times in this, but I think once works, Jack Harris my biggest critic, supporter and one my best friends, love ya bud. And to you obviously for doing this, never thought this would happen when you tagged me in a photo of you playing an acoustic guitar 4 years ago.
Support is everything! Thank you for being you and basically being uncle mike to everyone and being a very, very key factor in putting Michigan snowboarding on the map.
I’m alright with being Dad, but Uncle Mike sounds horrifying.
Uncle Mike Dad keeping his eyes peeled.