X-DANCE now available at Blockbuster Video | ParkRecord.com
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X-DANCE now available at Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster Video is now a little more extreme.

Winners of the X-DANCE Film Festival are now available at the Iron Horse Drive Blockbuster and will soon be available at the Quarry Village location.

Paul Nichols, manager of the Ironhorse Dr. store, said he was always frustrated with his offerings of ski, snowboarding and extreme-sport films.

"It was one of those little niches we had a hard time fulfilling until the X-DANCE section came about," he said.

Nichols is friends with Brian Wimmer, the festival’s co-creator, and the two agreed the arrangement would be mutually beneficial.

Wimmer and his festival partner Eric Barrett are both professional filmmakers who started X-DANCE about nine years ago to promote better sport filmmaking.

The "X" in the name comes from X-treme sports and the "dance" part is because the film runs alongside Sundance and has been inspired by it.

Wimmer has been in the film business for 25 years and said his true love is action sports.

"As a filmmaker and an athlete, I wasn’t happy with anything I was seeing," he said.

Most X-treme sport films are a lot of jumps and landings on skateboards, snowboards, bikes, snowmobiles etc. set to music.

"We call it ‘action porn.’ Takeoff, landing, takeoff landing, put it to music and call it a film. They’re really about selling T-shirts," he said.

Growing up in the area, and having known Robert Redford since childhood, Wimmer decided he wanted to do for sport films what Redford did for independent films.

The X-DANCE film festival does not recognize the most "extreme" or entertaining films, Wimmer finds that far too subjective. Like Sundance, the festival uses experienced judges to critique filmmaking skills like cinematography, editing and the musical score. Most important to Wimmer and co-creator Eric Barrett is story.

"You don’t have to have a scripted story, but we’re wanting to get into the soul of athlete and the sport and bring that out. If I see a guy jumping off the cliff 10 times, I don’t care, I don’t know who he is," he explained.

Wimmer is tired of seeing films with great athleticism but no story.

"Open the mic up!" he joked.

Barrett compares the films they award to documentaries. He cites Sundance premiers "Lords of Dogtown" and "Riding Giants" as examples of exemplary sport films.

One thing that fascinates Wimmer and Barrett about their genre is the skill and bravery of the filmmakers.

"They are as good, if not better than the athlete they’re shooting," Barrett said.

For skiing and snowboarding films, the camera must follow the athlete meaning the filmmaker is skiing the same terrain and facing the same elements with a 50 to 80 lbs pack on their back.

"You have to do crazy stunts to capture this crazy stuff," Wimmer said.

Pleasing to Wimmer and Barrett is the international scope the festival has achieved in its nine years. Every year they accept 40 films and each festival the number of submissions increases.

More satisfying than that, the duo agrees the quality of the films is improving just as they’d hoped.

Wimmer said his litmus test is his wife, who has no interest in X-treme sports. If she likes it, it’s a good film.

Wimmer is excited that the partnership with Blockbuster will not only make the films more accessible to fans in Summit County, but will also expose the work to people who might not otherwise see them.

Wimmer brags that he’s received the blessing of Redford for his festival.

"Redford’s films are about the outdoors and sports. He loves them. The idea that I would take this and turn it into a festival he thought was incredible. He’s been incredibly supportive," Wimmer said.

Also impressive to Wimmer is the support the athletes give to the filmmakers. Without the films, the work of the skiers and snowboarders would never be known.

"The A-list movie stars of our industry show up in full support of these filmmakers," he explained.

In 1999, Barrett noticed over 40 current and former gold medal skiers at a premier of a stunt film at Harry O’s. That’s what convinced him a film festival would get the necessary support and sponsorship.

Right now, Barrett and Wimmer act largely as volunteers. Barrett said his hopes for the festival are for it to some day achieve the level of sponsorship that would permit it to tour the country as an event with live stunts on par with the X-Games.

Instead of it mostly being a showcase of talent to peers, he’d like to see exposure to the Hollywood crowd. Cross-overs have happened in the past, with directors, editors and cinematographers landing jobs on major studio crews. The quality of work he sees submitted deserves to be mainstream, he said.

Dayna Boshard, a graphic designer who is in her second year of creating ads, posters, programs and more for the festival, said she loves the feel of X-DANCE.

"The people, the spirit, the energy is fabulous," she said. "The films are also appropriate for kids. At Sundance you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into when you bring your family. There’s a really good energy there."

She said Wimmer and Barrett run a tight ship and leave very little room for error.

"They’re artists, but they’re also business men and so do a good job pulling things together," she said.

Festival website: http://www.x-dance.com

Participating Blockbusters:

950 Iron Horse Dr

8208 Gorgoza Pines Rd


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