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Three friends, some beers and a big screen – this was our setup to review Level 1 Production’s latest film, Small World.

I come back from a trip to England, and two friends— photographer and filmer Maxime Ramoul and pipe skier Nicolas Bijasson—are already hanging out in my apartment. After cracking a few beers with the boys, I get an idea: why don’t they watch the new Level 1 flick I just got, and help me review it? Maxime and Nicolas are into it, so we settle onto the couch and let the film roll.

Full movie to watch at High Five

Small World from Level 1 on Vimeo.

The movie starts with a mellow introduction in classic Level 1 style. Spots and aerial scenic shots are linked with dynamic transitions with nice design work, which every year helps build the visual identity of this American production.

The movie rolls right into a Japan segment, gathering shredders who can hold their own in both freerie and urban settings, and that’s pretty much what we see for the next hour. There are a few roster changes, but mostly it’s a limited crew around Khai Krepela, Will Wesson and Sämi Ortleib (this year’s surprise player) who the film follows in their international shred-scapades. It looks like the new generation that arrived last year is now the official Level 1 roster.

The editing, atmosphere and even the spots are fun; it’s easy to find a connection with these guys having fun riding together, a vibe that’s highlighted by the location-based editing, rather than individual athlete segments.

All that keeps smiles on our faces during most of the screening, but that’s it. We talk throughout the movie, and there’s never really a moment when we’re totally captured by the events occurring on-screen. The movie comes to a close like that, and it’s time for us to debrief. We’ve all got our own points of view, but we seem to come to similar conclusions. Here’s a bit of the feedback:

“I appreciate the fact that there’s no individual parts. It’s like a big family trip.”
“Yeah but the level isn’t there, there are no bangers especially in freeride or backcountry.”
“There are so many good freeriders – why are the jib guys in the powder instead of them?”
“Yes, it’s creative, but we’re never jumping out of our chairs like, “Whoa, play that again, that’s crazy!’”
“The editing’s good at the beginning, but loses its edge during the movie.”
“It’s not a movie that challenges the brain, and I like the message linking pro riders to normal freeskiers expressed in the last segment.”
“I was disappointed last year, but it was still better than this one.”
“It’s not Level 1 anymore, all the big names are gone.”
“The atmosphere is like a web series with B shots.”

Personally, I still had a great time watching the movie, and I liked the low-key, behind-the-scenes atmosphere. But the movie keeps it classic and mellow, not bringing a ton of new things to the table. If you’re a longtime Level 1 fan, you might be looking for something better from a production that’s slowly losing its number-one place in the hearts of some freeskiers.

If you’re intrigued, you should definitely pick up this film or catch a premiere, which I’d advise because you’ll have a good time watching people having fun, which is probably what the iF3’s judges were looking for. Just don’t expect a revolution.


level 1, opinion, Will Wesson

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