Isenseven Interview: Alex Schiller
The whole idea came up when actually wanting to do a film preview of Isenseven’s “Fool’s Gold” from last year. As things however don’t go as planned for the usual, in the end it didn’t happen. I still though wanted to hit up Alex to do something about Isen and remarked a few weeks back how old really Isenseven has gotten with the years. Over a decade it has been that the guys from Isen (a suburb of Munich) got introduced to Snowboarding as this crew for what they’re known for: Enriching our snowboard entertainment with a healthy dose of bullshit extravaganza (wether it is on or off the slopes), combined with a solid trick level that was about to explode to progressive and creative, fun snowboarding with friends. But since these days when you still could read “A Gayhouse Production” when watching an Isen film, a lot of time has passed and some things changed. Alex Schiller is the man at Isen’s today and took some time for us before the premiere to talk about everything. READ ON..
ShredOn Mag: Hey Alex how are you doing ..still enjoying some summertime or already banished to the cold cellar of editing surrounded by tea, coffe cups and ashtrays?
Alex Schiller: Hey Mike. All semi-good here. I actually got a bad case of tendinitis in my right hand and haven’t been able to edit for a while. But now it’s better and I’m back on track although we are a bit behind schedule. But there’s still a month till the premiere, so no biggie.
SOM: Lucky you that you still have the time I’d say!
You’re selling a bunch of more copies than most of the productions thanks to a strong and worldwide fanbase that you’ve built up over the years. What is from your point of view the main reason, why Isenseven is so successful and still is?
Alex: If I knew the perfect answer to that, I’d do more of whatever it is and take over the world with Isenseven! But I think it’s a mix of the likeable crew, the good cinematography/editing and the music.
I dunno. People see Isenseven as their friend. THAT’s the answer!
SOM: I had a short chat with Vincent (Urban) last year and he told me he wouldn’t be really on board anymore, that he just helps out a bit when editing, if needed ..so since when are you completely in charge of what gets and doesn’t get filmed at Isenseven?
Alex: OK, so first I need to say, I am not the main filmer at Isenseven anymore. I have a lot of very talented filmers that go out and do the dirty work for me (and probably do a better job as well). Since 2010 I have the role of producer/director and spend maybe 30 days MAXIMUM on the mountain filming each season. Back in 2010 Vincent, Felix (Urbauer) and I wanted to go different ways and I was the only one who stayed with Isen. We merged with Pleasure Magazine and since then Bene (Heimstädt – Editor-in-Chief at Pleasure) and I have been running the show. He takes care of business, I take care of…well..everything else.
SOM: Would you agree when saying that people always could identify perfectly with Isenseven, due to not having the typical big name lineup and also providing a good dose of random bullshit and noticing: “Hey, these guys are like us, we can do that too!”
Alex: Exactly. We’ve gotten offers to film with some „bigger“ riders over the last years, but we never wanted to change our concept. If that’s good or bad is for the reader to decide. The main ingredients for an Isen rider are charisma, good riding and the will to work with us together on the movie. I’m not dropping names here, but we’ve had riders in our crew that were bought in by sponsors and we quickly realized that they don’t understand what we’re doing and we just didn’t get along with them.
I didn’t want to risk having riders in our crew that don’t fit, so we only accept riders that we personally know and like.
SOM: I re-watched the Isen films in these last weeks and I had the impression that back in the early Isen days of “..well?” and others, the fun and bullshit factor in the films was much bigger. Did with a professional and worldwide recognized crew, also the entire production process get more serious, due to pressure from sponsors’ side maybe?
Alex: I am totally honest about this: The only fact that all the bullshit is less in newer movies, is because we got older. That’s it. It has nothing to do with pressure, recognition or business. Partying is an important part of Snowboarding and I miss the days of the true rock stars, that would send it till 6 AM and go and win the contest the next day. Everyone has become an athlete now. They train, eat healthy, don’t smoke (not saying that’s bad though).
But if your sponsor shoves a bunch of cash up your ass to perform at contests and video, I understand the need to stay professional.
SOM: What about the music for what the people also love you: Most of the tunes are Indie in your films I’d say. Not digging the HipHop and Punk music anymore? I miss that.
Alex: I think since „Don’t Panic“ we’ve kind of found our music style and have been doing the same since. But I like that. I’d call it „indie-disco-boogie-folkrock with neoclassic influence“. The music is just another aspect of telling that we got older. Or when was the last time we used a cheesy electro-pop tune? Whatever floats your boat. The way we make movies now is how we like it and it seems that there are a few people out there that see it the same way.
SOM: Let’s switch the topic a little bit: Girls.
Since Silvi (Mittermüller) is gone we haven’t seen a chick in an Isen flick anymore, but female Snowboarding has progressed like crazy over the years. Not an option?
Alex: Hmmm. Good question. I need to think about this question before I say something stupid.
SOM: Take your time..
Alex: It’s funny. Since Silli, no girl has stated interest in filming with us or we haven’t met any girl where we thought, damn she needs
to be on our team. I’m open for everything though. She needs to be damn cool though, not take herself too seriously and show some decent riding, because it seems to me that a lot of girls just don’t chill out and stress themselves too much when it comes to snowboarding.
I just remembered. A few years ago, an international top ranked pro girl from the U.S. sent me an email saying she has a bunch of unused footage and if we would want to give her a part in our movie. Her sponsor would pay for it. I politely explained that that’s not the way Isenseven works and we are not a last resort for b-footage. I never heard from her again.
SOM: Is there something in particular you’re missing from the old days at Isenseven?
Alex: There is one thing that I really miss and makes me all emo when we talk about it: The GAP 1328 Summercamp in Garmisch! Oh my god, those were some of the best times of my life.
SOM: The older we all get also technology and especially the Internet has evolved a lot. Now I get the perfect “bridge” for my next question, cheers:
Thanks to the Internet, we get to see today much more footage from new and unknown local crews, web series is sort of the new trend on the web and the “snowboarding’s internet” is literally invaded by them. Isen already did those when shooting Prediculous (which was in 2006) with the “Monthly Clips”. Why not anymore?
Alex: It’s funny that you mention the 2006 Monthly Clips as webisodes. I think back then the term „webisode“ didn’t even exist in Snowboarding. That’s probably what made them so special. The mass of Snowboarding web-videos has brought the standard of Snowboard-Film-Making down. I’m not saying everything is bad. There’s a lot of creative stuff out there (BLV//NTHING has a cool thing going on btw). But it’s hard to filter out the gems when there’s so much bull crap to go through first. But to cut it short: They were too much work…that’s why we only did it for 2 years.
SOM: 3 more facts about „the old Isen era“ and then we move on to our time:
For one what happened to Snowboard Franz, is he still around ..what is he up to?
(one ham sandwich later..)
He’s alive and well but he didn’t feel like hanging around much when he also noticed we were „getting older“. But he does come by for a visit now and then.
SOM: Last two:
For one: Isenseven released a pure skate edit once, ..we were all dying to see a possible Isen Skate film ..too much work in the end?
..and the bloody last one goes back to day #1, when Iseseven was founded:
I read in a Pleasure issue last season, that Isenseven was actually founded by 8 guys back then, why Isen “Seven” then? Not even the postal code of Isen starts with a Seven I’ve looked it up. So?
Alex: I’m absolutely sure if Vincent, Felix and I hadn’t parted ways, we would have made a skate film. But that was something that only could be made with teamwork and us 3 as the team. I still dream of doing more skate. Maybe some day..
So, in the beginning we were six and didn’t have a name. Then we were like „oops, we forgot Vincent“ (he was the only one living in the city at the time whereas we were out in the country). So we were seven and the name sounded cool. By then Bernd (Pösl) had been hanging with us and we figured he needs to be part of the crew as well. But changing the name to Iseneight was lame. So we just stuck with it.
SOM: Alright then ..let’s move on now from this “Isen nostalgia” and talk a bit about the new film “A Way We Go”:
A name that stood out immediately was Stephan Maurer. He isn’t the guy that gets that much media on the web, but he totally kills it. How did that come up and how was it working with him for the new film?
Alex: We’ve been friends with Mu forever. I actually don’t know why he didn’t join earlier. He’d been filming with Burton and True Color over the last years and was in all those cool little Swiss productions back in the day.
DBK needed a partner in crime to join him riding natural backcountry. A rider is only as good as the crew that he travels with. And DBK and Mu are a great crew. They did what they felt like and the output is awesome! Mu is one of the most underrated riders in Europe. Anybody to not recognize that is a fool. Nobody has more board control than him.
SOM: Talking riders in the new film:
The lineup got cut down pretty roughly, but there are cameos by riders that we’d actually expect with a full part in the next Isen film, such as little (Marco) Smolla and the Strauss Twins, but they’re just „also joining them“ ..or did I get something wrong when reading it?
Alex: Now comes the big part where everyone is going to scream „sellout!“
It costs a lot of money to make a Snowboard film the way we do. And trust us, we are not driving Ferrari’s or living in mansions. To finance a Snowboard film you need sponsors. And the snowboard industry is hurting. That’s why our team got cut down by over 50%.: The sponsors didn’t want to support their riders in our movie and would rather spend their money otherwise.
Fips, Marco and Tobi only have „cameos“ because they didn’t want to spend a whole year filming for a full part. They wanted to focus on certain projects.
SOM: Last year back, we all got pretty shocked when getting the news that ‘the program’ brands get shut down. Is that another good example for what you were complaining about the industry today?
..maybe also THE reason why we don’t see Peter König in the rider’s list this year?
Alex: What happened with The Program is way bigger than what we can conceive and none of us have the right knowledge to comment appropriately on it. I’m sure Burton didn’t shut down The Program because they were greedy and wanted to show the world who’s boss. When you make a decision like that, you have the right reasons to back you up.
Forum not being a possible sponsor for us and NO OTHER BRAND wanting to sign Peter König (wtf!) is the reason why he’s not in this year’s movie. It’s a shame.
SOM: Yeah ..what the fuck.
What is your personal feeling for “A Way We Go” ..what can we expect? ..and don’t tell me it will be fun and dope as usual.
Alex: I’m pretty sure it will be fun and dope.
No, I’m happy with the footage and am eager to continue editing. Since we only have 5 main riders this year, we’ve had to change up our concept a bit. Can’t make a full movie with just 5 parts. It’s going to be cool. Different than the last years, I’m pretty sure people will dig it even if it’s steering further away from „the typical Isenseven feel“. Or maybe that feeling will come back. We’ll keep it a surprise. The music is going to be awesome!
It’s fun to try something different than the typical part-part-part movie after 11 years.
SOM: Sounds exciting. The teaser says the film will be out in September. World premiere is set for the 14th. What’s your relation with dead lines? Sounds like you still have some work ahead, also considering the fact that you were injured, like you told me here before.
Alex: Worldpremiere is September 14th in Munich. Movie release is scheduled for early October.
My relation with deadlines? I’ve never missed one. But I’ve almost killed myself to keep them. I have a lot of work ahead of me….
SOM: Good luck for that, I’m confident it’ll work out.
So what are the next Isen plans then after all the premiere parties and hangovers, talking about the new season now?
Alex: The future is still a bit blurry for us. With the Snowboard industry in the dumps it’s not clear what will happen with our movie. We suffered some major budget cuts last season and I couldn’t make another movie with so little money. I’m tired of begging the industry for money to support something wonderful that has, in my eyes, changed the world of Snowboard filmmaking. I don’t know yet what’s going to happen with Isenseven in the future. I have nothing but love for this project and everyone involved.
SOM: Alright then Alex. I’d say we’ve covered pretty much everything I wanted to talk about. Thanks a lot for taking the time for me to do this interview man. Any shout outs?
Alex: Thanks to anyone that is interested in what a filmmaker has to say. Thanks to Bene for keeping this show running with me. Thanks to everyone who contributed anything to A Way We Go, making it as cool as it will be.