Nose pressing concrete takes some guts (photo: Soden)

Steel – I got the call from Corey and Bill and immediately knew what it was about. The conversation went something like this…”Hey Steel, we loved your part you did last year, despite being put into the contest late and having a shortened amount of time, we would love to see what you can do with the full amount time!” I got off the phone and called Aaron Rathy who filmed my part for 2016 and asked if he would be my filmer again. He said “I would love too but I’m competing as an athlete this year again”. I thought DAMN, he’s going to be hard to beat. A little bit of foreshadowing there…so I called up my boy Wes Williams to see if he was available. This dude is a legend and has done many massive projects. I love the way he shoots and thought if I could get him to film my X Games part, that would be unreal. When I got a hold of him, he was hyped. He dropped everything else he had and we went to work!

Coming into filming for this part, I took the off season OFF. I didn’t ride much and wasn’t in the best wakeboarding shape. So it hit me pretty hard, going from the golf course to trying the hardest tricks I’ve ever done on my board. Despite trying to get back into shape and riding, the weather we had was ruthless. I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders, trying to one up my part from last year and not let everyone that put so much work into this project down. I battled through injuries, mental blocks, anger and weather. I had an awesome team around me and that was the only reason I was able to push through it all and come out with a part that we were all stoked on. Although we didn’t place, shooting for this video gave me the fire to progress my riding to the next level for 2017 and that’s exactly what I did. I wish we could film these sections at the end of the year, because that is when I’m hitting my stride and everything is coming together. So much props to all the boys that battled through the same stuff we did and came out with mind blowing parts. I love being a part of this contest, definitely one I would love the opportunity again to try and win one day!

Wes – Despite Steel and I working on numerous film projects throughout the past few years, ironically we’d never shot together in his main arena of expertise – wakeboarding.  When he called me in early April and presented the opportunity to shoot X-Games with him, I went to the moon with excitement and graciously accepted his offer. It was not only a chance to work with the legend again, but an opportunity to check off a lifelong bucket list item, competing in the X-Games (even though I just did the filming, it still counts!). Normally my genres of producing center around motorsports, and my brain immediately went to work on how I could bring vision from my background to create some unique images alongside my buddy Steel. As everyone probably knows, Steel is one of the most fun, excitable, and charismatic people you could hang around, but little did I know we were grabbing front row seats on the biggest emotional roller coaster of 2017.  

Our first few days started out amazing; cool ideas, planning, locations, timing and logistics seemed to be harmonious between our two brains. We nailed down a couple pretty rad shots to get us started, setting us out on an all-time high, but we knew we needed to elevate our game to have a chance at grabbing a medal in the competition – and that’s where things progressively became harder and harder. Weather, being a rather large variable for filming, immediately decided to forecast us nothing but rain for our month window we had blocked out. This meant 4am mornings everyday to check the clouds, and extremely late evenings trying to capture the best available light. Mix that with the fact Steel was trying to throw down some pretty gnarly tricks, it effectively caused a very hard to hit target that, at times, was seemingly impossible to hit. Little sleep, gross malnourishment, and the baking south Florida sun was a concoction that tested every part of our beings. Many days we cried together, laughed together, yelled at the sky, the lakes, the people, the tubers that only came out when we were trying to film, and ourselves, but in the end we had an amazing time and put together a piece that Steel and I are quite happy with. In the moment, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the effort you’re both putting in, especially as the sun is beating down on your already sun scorched body and your stomach hurts because you haven’t eaten anything but breakfast bars in two days, but I can honestly look back at those times, smile, and know I wouldn’t change a single bit of it. Of all places, on the lake, filming with your boys… it really doesn’t get much better than that.  Couldn’t have done it without our friends Will Posey, Jake Leonard, Daniel Powers, Gordon Harrison, T-Sode, Dylan, Shota, Bolling, Ash, Pierce, and the legend, Ellen Degeneres.

Steel blasting behind his X Star is always fun to watch (photo: Soden)

  Wes coming through with the angles (photo: Soden)

#TailGrabTuesday (photo: Soden)