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The Year’s Most Beautiful Skate Film Takes Place on a Frozen Beach in Norway

We spoke to the filmmaker Jørn Nyseth Ranum about the stunning 'Northbound. '

by Catherine Chapman
19 May 2016, 1:45pm

Think you could handle the cold? These Norwegian skaters did in a scene from Northbound. Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

Digital technology has brought new creative possibilities to filmmaking, and skate videos haven’t been left behind. But no matter how many computer graphics or animations are applied, when it comes to a jaw-dropping skateboarding movie, tricks aside, it's about the terrain. While there have been some inventive places put on screen, like in Red Bull Perspective – A Skateboard Film, where skaters slide and glide at a waterpark, most are done on concrete with cool backdrops, not frozen sand on a remote beach in northern Norway.

Then, there's NorthboundMot Nord in Norwegian—a film that recently received the Special Jury Mention at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The 10-minute short takes four of Norway’s best skaters—Karstein KleppanHenrik LundHermann Stene and Didrick Galasso—and puts them in what’s likely the coldest environment that skateboard filmmaking has ever seen, during the coldest week of the year. Filmed in different locations throughout the Lofoten Islands, Northbound isn’t just about nailing tricks impressively, but discovering that where there's a will, there's a way to skate the harsh Arctic winter.

The Creators Project caught up with the young filmmaker—occasional skateboarder—Jørn Nyseth Ranum, whose film, Northbound, deserves serious mention.  

Mot Nord (Northbound) Teaser from Łukasz Zamaro on Vimeo.

The Creators Project: So, how’d it feel to have your film in one of the world’s most noteworthy festivals?

Jørn Nyseth Ranum: We didn’t believe it when we heard it at first! It was really fun.

You’re only 27, but this is your second film and an idea that came out of your debut piece North of the Sun, a story where you spent 9 cold months surfing off the coast of northern Norway. Where did the Northbound idea come from?

We had been out surfing on one of the coldest winter days and I came up on the shore and felt that the sand was rock solid. It felt like concrete in a way. It was then that my idea for trying to skateboard on this beach came. I tried it a couple of times myself, made some small mini ramps, and it worked. So I made this bigger project.

And you managed to get some of Norway’s best skaters involved too—was that easy?  

When I told skateboarders most of them were really stoked. Of course, there were some skeptical people as it was a totally new idea and people didn’t think it would work. But I think most skaters are use to going outside their comfort zone and trying new stuff. They liked the idea of doing something that no one else had done before and also the idea of combining city skateboarding with nature.

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A sandy beach frozen into the perfect skating terrain. Northbound. Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

So it’s not your typical skate video...

Well, I watched a lot of skateboarding films before I started and I’ve seen a lot from growing up, but my goal was never to make a skateboard film. I just watched for inspiration. Skateboard films try to make something new by traveling to weird locations or having cool backdrops but it’s rare to actually get something new to skate on. Skateboarding films are usually about documenting new tricks and progression but Northbound wasn’t about this. It was more about documenting a new way of skateboarding where landscape and nature was really important. So I think Northbound is a mixture between short film, documentary, and skateboard film.

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Surrounded by picturesque landscape Northbound brings nature and street style skating together.  Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

What were some of the challenges in making it?

We were really stressed about when we should leave for filming because it had to be cold enough for the skating to work and that doesn’t happen so often by the coast. We had the skateboarders and crew on standby for the whole winter and had to take a chance when the forecast looked good. We were lucky and saw later that we had picked the coldest week of the year. Our project wouldn’t have been possible at any other time.

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Cold, Cold, Cold! Northbound. Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

How cold did it get, exactly?

We had -10°C at the most but -10°C feels really cold when you are at the coast with the humidity and the wind. Sometimes it would be -15°C by the sea.

Pretty tough terrain. Did anyone get hurt?

Ha! No one got seriously hurt but there were some small injuries during the shoot. It was cool because one of the skaters landed on his foot really bad and it swelled up a lot but he said that because he was so cold it didn’t hurt so much.

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The skaters had to continuously do tricks for the camera as it reset. Northbound. Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

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See a new type of skateboarding film in Northbound. Image courtesy of Lukasz Zamaro.

You can find out more about Northbound here

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