Photo: ‘Dear Rider’
‘Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story’
Surfing on snow doesn’t sound like too crazy of an idea, but only a short time ago it was. Snowboarding was considered reckless and the worst new sport. It isn’t surprising because it focuses on the individuality of the rider rather than a ball getting into a goal or endzone. Jake Burton was the pioneer of snowboarding and had a drive like no one else when it came to the slopes. Only starting out making make-shift boards and going to the mountain with his friends, but taking it to buyers who were fast to say no. Nothing stopped him and he kept going, perfecting the board and learning from the riders that came along. In HBO’s documentary ‘Dear Rider’, friends and family tell their story about Jake Burton and how there was no one like him. He was a man that had a thin line between work and play but knew how important it was to be a success.
This film does a wonderful job telling the story of Jake and his company Burton as it grew and grew to the best brand in snowboarding while the sport was slowly being accepted by the world.
Art of Winning
A great aspect of this documentary is that it doesn’t only focus on Jake Burton, but it interweaves other snowboarding legends and their story with the sport and how they were connected to Jake. Key names like Terje Haakonsen, Craig Kelly, and of course Shaun White. Even if someone watches this film with absolutely no clue about the history of snowboarding or even the name Jake Burton, it hooks them in and creates respect for the sport and Jake. The way that the people around him spoke about who he was is enchanting and heart-warming.
One thing that Jake understood is the difference between the rider that loves to ride and the rider that loves to win. That’s why his relationship with Shaun White was so important because not only did he love to snowboard, but he was a champion. The film shows a young Shaun as he rides in his first Burton U. S. Open to him dominating in the Olympics. Jake saw Shaun’s potential early on and the impact that Shaun had on the world being the first global snowboarding star was all because of Jake and his support.
Business is Business
Loving what you do sounds much easier than it is, but for Jake Burton, that was the least of his worries. He said he has never met anyone who has loved snowboarding more than him and that is true. He poured absolutely everything into the sport and created a company that every snowboarder in the world knows. It was really great to see some of the behind-the-scenes work at the shop and see the workers have so much fun while they are doing it. There are always bad days, but it goes to show that people can do what they love and create something special for others.
There was a great moment in the documentary where there was a realization that the Burton company was growing so fast that they were losing the aspect of the community and just pumping out merchandise. Having a CEO take a step back realize that the core of their company is getting lost is incredibly self-reflecting and shows that everything starts at the same level and can be drawn back. Most companies would just continue to grow and see the money rather than connect back to why they started the business in the first place. That’s what makes Jake Burton so different from other CEOs.
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Looking at this film as a whole, it was brilliantly edited and the visuals are stunning. Choosing the subject of snowboarding opens the door to having spectacular shots of riders doing tricks while simultaneously having some of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. Snow-capped mountains with riders racing down creating sheets of snow flying as they turn. There was a variety of jaw-dropping shots throughout the film and even the mood of each shot had the perfect relation to the words that were being said. It did not feel like a hodge-podge of snowboarding b-roll, but that each shot felt made for this film and uniquely picked out. A round of applause must go to the director Fernando Villena and the editor Rose Corr.
The flow of Jake’s story was incredibly fluid and there was never a lull of unimportant filler. The growth of snowboarding and Jake went hand and hand throughout. With the narration of Woody Harrelson, the story unfolded beautifully and kept the viewer hooked from start to finish. Balancing the ups and downs like a half pike was flawless and precise.
‘Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story’ is a fantastic sports documentary released by HBO. A moving story of a man with drive and against the whole world. Every person he met was impacted by his passion and love for the art of snowboarding. Even if sports are not a viewers thing, this film will draw them in and give them a new way of looking at the sport that people were fast to turn their backs on. Jake Burton will always be known for being the pioneer of snowboarding and have a mark on the history of a sport that people dedicate their lives to now. Rest in peace, Jake.
Where to Watch:
Stream ‘Dear Rider’ on HBO max here.
Stars: Jake Burton Carpenter, Donna Carpenter, Shaun White, Woody Harrelson
Directed by Fernando Villena | Produced by Scott Bradfield, Ben Bryan and George Carpenter
By Jack Colin
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Jack Colin is a playwright and screenwriter with an immense love for film & television which drives him to learn from and share his passion with anyone willing to listen. Living life as a trans man, Jack wants his writing to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ members and share the positive stories that are so often ignored through his work at The Hollywood Insider, he is eager to give readers a confident outlook on life. The storytellers of the world are the ones who decide what happiness can be. Jack takes pride in The Hollywood Insider’s mission statement to stray away from gossip and to lift up voices in entertainment with supportive and meaningful stories that will promote strength and unity.