It all started in 1993, in an unassuming parking lot in Southern California with the premier of "Alive We Ride," a video that captured skate, snowboard and surf culture with authenticity and veracity unlike anything of its time. Melding cutting-edge footage from an all-star team with daring DIY art direction, the California-based Volcom's trailblazing video aesthetic was unleashed to the world. Now—21 years and over two dozen classic snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing videos later—the brand returns to unifying the shred trifecta into one film with "True to This"—streaming online in its entirety for 24 hours.
"We took it on as a project to see how surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding could mesh together these days because they've changed so much since the first video," says Volcom's Global Creative Director and the film's director Mike Aho, "But there are also similarities, and we found that and used it as our narrative." The film integrates vintage footage of legendary Volcom riders like snowboarders Jamie Lynn and Terje Håkonsen with modern scenes. Aho says, "We wanted to show the similarities not only between the three sports, but between the early '90s and now. It's a similar spirit."
In its short history, Volcom has grown massively since its inception by a few friends on a snowboard trip. Still, their dedication to creativity has not wavered, with thriving film, video and art outlets a testament to their commitment to expression. "The complete creative expression—especially when it comes to film—is really what makes Volcom a different kind of company," Aho explains. "The early films were really an opportunity to get as creative as possible and that was really formative for the rest of the company." The brand's art direction relies on input from the riders themselves. "Across the board when it comes to anything—print advertisements, T-shirts—a lot of the people that ride for Volcom are artists as well. So integrating their work—what they've been drawing when they're riding in a van on tour, or photos from a trip—it makes things more authentic when everyone's involved. It's really organic."
Throughout the film, the unifying feeling Aho sought to capture is infectious. It's one of freedom; an unfettered, free-flowing euphoric feeling of exploring and expression. It's at once solitary and meditative and communal, it's both shared and intimately personal. "You're constantly looking at the differences when you're immersed in it, but when you compare it to the rest of the world and what a lot of people are into, you realize these similarities," says Aho. For those not immersed in the world of boardsports, the film still holds value. "It's a true snapshot into where these sports are in 2014," Aho says, "You see things on TV and that's a portion of it, but really getting out on the road and filming is what these sports are about."
"True to This" is currently streaming for 24 hours in its entirety online. If you miss it today, catch a stop on the world premier tour or pick up the DVD.
Images courtesy of Volcom