On the Verge: Dendrite Studios
Even a 200-ton locomotive starts off at a snail's pace, and Dendrite Studios was no different. The founders, Athan Merrick and Nicholas Teichrob, got the operation off the ground at the beginning of last winter, launching the Dendrite website and pumping out regular webisodes in a series entitled "Perspectives." With innovative camera angles, A-level action, artistic editing and uncommon music, Dendrite gathered considerable steam as word spread around various social media sites and freeskiing chat forums.
Now with a full season of footage in the can, the Whistler locals have released the trailer for their first full-length feature, "Out Of The Shadows," which will be available in the fall. Athan took time out of his "real job" as a cinematic lighting technician to tell us about building a ski film company from the ground up.
ESPN: Tell us how the Dendrite Studios project came about. Who started it and why?
Nicolas Teichrob and myself started Dendrite Studios. I was trying to make it as an athlete and Nic was the primary photographer I was working with. We both saw the mountains and the sport of skiing in a similar way. Ski films and filmmaking came up in our conversations and the idea started to hatch. Basically, we wanted to bring a new perspective and a new vision to this ridiculously fun sport.
You put out the "Perspectives" webisodes all winter long on your website. Was the goal in the beginning always to have these lead up to full-length feature release?
Yes, 100 percent. Since we are a brand-new and unknown company the "Perspectives" series is a way to expand the knowledge about our company: slowly but surely make people remember the name "Dendrite Studios." But the whole reason for everything was to make a feature length ski film.
There are so many companies making ski movies. What sets Dendrite apart?
Ski films are amazing. We love them. They fuel the fire. But they have also become stagnant. We are going to push the visual, creative, and thematic boundaries of the genre. Everyone associated with this film, from the crew to the athletes, work hard for their time in the mountains. None of us are getting paid to be here. This is our passion and we want to share some of that with the world and I know it will shine through more so than some of the other options out there.
Can you tell us about some of the technologies you guys employ for "Out Of The Shadows?"
The main technologies being employed is our brains: Nic's photography background and my film industry background.
It seems like you've really reaped the benefit of camera technology getting better and cheaper. Would this project have been possible ten years ago?
Yes and no. Yes, because ten years ago there weren't as many players in the game and the industry had more money; so perhaps we would have had funding. No, because we essentially have zero budget and ten years ago the same quality required film and film is very expensive to process.
You've said this movie has been funded on a ski bum budget. Where are you at with financing?
Every one of our sponsors has given us product or services. We have not seen a single dime. The film would not be possible without that product and services though, so we thank everyone who is on board. Nic and I have funded the film out of our ski bum wallets, which are extremely thin, let me tell you. We always recognized in our first year of business no one would believe in us. We started with a 30-page business and film project document. I like to think that was 10 out of 100 on a level of "are these guys for real." Now we have a trailer and have stuck to our plan. I think we are at 30 out of 100 now. The real deal will be when the film is released. Then we will be firing on all cylinders and hopefully some sponsors step up to the plate and support us and our minimally sponsored athletes with some real funding. There is so much left to do. Next year, with funding, we can push the envelope much, much further.
If someone wants to see "Out Of The Shadows" in the fall, how can they do it?
Everything will be controlled through our website: dendritestudios.com. We will have DVDs, Blu-Ray and most importantly online downloads in various formats that will allow the ski bum masses without cash to view the film for a small price. We want to support the people who make this lifestyle so special.
What's in the future for Dendrite?
This is the beginning of a company focused on bringing a new perspective to outdoor exhilaration. It was founded on passion and dreams and it will always have that at its core. I want Dendrite to grow into a viable, living, breathing monster that never loses focus.