Q&A: Ahmet Dadali on flipping the script and growing as a skier
East Coast transplant Ahmet Dadali first made waves in Level 1′s 2007 release, Realtime. Since then, he’s been a mainstay in the Level 1 flicks, constantly earning awards and accolades for his performances. This year, Ahmet is working on his own project with the La Familia crew, entitled Flip the Script. The first episode of the series dropped last week, and Dadali has plans to drop two more episodes throughout the season, as well as a full movie featuring the whole group of skiers at the end of the season. We caught up with Ahmet to discuss the benefits and challenges of breaking out onto his own.
Yo! How are things going in Breck?
AD: It’s dumping up here. Breck is the new snow circle, dude.
Good to hear. You just dropped episode one of Flip the Script last week. Can you break down the scope of the project for me?
AD: I’ve always been a film skier, and I decided that that’s how I wanted to spend my whole year. I just want to get as much footage as I can. And, I think if I film all year, I can get enough footage to fill more than just one segment. I figure I can make multiple segments that can drop online for free, and get people hyped throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, I’ll hopefully be able to make a movie with completely unseen footage. The segments are just me, but the movie will involve the whole La Familia crew.
What typically happens is that the footage gets saved for the end of the year. By not saving everything for a movie, I’m able to drop solid content throughout the year. That’s the idea of Flip the Script. I want to change up the film game a bit. I don’t want to do things the typical way. I want to do something different and have a lot of fun with it.
Photo: Maria Sakvarelidze
So, you saved shots for the movie?
AD: There’s a few that I didn’t throw in. By the end of the year I’ll have more. I’d like to have no repeat shots in the movie. I don’t know if I can do that, but hopefully it’s possible. We’ve got another big trip coming up so I’m going to try to do as much as I can.
Who’s filming for you?
AD: Kevin Perron from Treefort Lifestyles is coming along with me and he’s doing a lot of the filming. It’s also all the guys at La Familia putting a hand on the camera and getting shots.
What did it take to make this happen? How long has it been in the making? With getting sponsors involved and everything, I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight.
AD: I spent basically the whole summer trying to get my sponsors in and convince them that I was actually going to make this happen, and that it wasn’t all talk. I really wanted to do it, and I had to convince them that it was going to be something cool. I was sitting down on the computer, constantly writing proposals and refreshing them. It was definitely a bit difficult for me, since I hate that kind of stuff, as I’m sure most people do. I spent the summer doing it, into the fall, even into the winter and now. Just trying to put everything in place and get it going. It’s been a long road to make it actually happen. The hardest part is that I want it to be interesting content. The next segment will take place in Slovenia, and potentially Bosnia. We’re trying to get to as many places as we can. The last one was shot partially in France, and that obviously takes some money to do.
And what about the decision to step away from Level 1?
AD: Level 1 is actually going to join us on the next trip. They’re going to film a travel segment for the movie. I’m not necessarily done with Level 1; I’m more just kind of taking a step back. The reason, in my mind, is that in order to progress yourself fully as a skier, there comes a point in time when you need to change it up, take things into your own hands and see what you can do with it. If I keep putting out Level 1 segments, then I’m going to be a one-dimensional skier. I’ll be seen at the end of the year in one movie, and at this point I feel like I’m capable of more than that, and I want more than that.
What do you owe to Level 1?
AD: A lot, man. Skiing with those guys has been awesome. When I’m out there filming with them, it’s just filming with my friends – whether it was [Kyle] Decker, [Josh] Berman or Freedle [Coty]. You learn a lot from your friends out there. Those guys all know their stuff, and I was able to pick up a lot of knowledge from them, especially in the backcountry. I also learned a bit about the filming; they’ve been a huge help for sure.
Do you feel the move to the web was sort of a necessity for you?
AD: Yeah, definitely. You know, if I look up my name on YouTube or something, I see some super old, shitty edits from back in the day. That’s what I don’t want, and that’s why I’m trying to put everything on the web. So, when you look up my name and want to see some skiing, you actually see some good stuff that’s relevant right now. It also gives the viewer an idea of what kind of skier I am. Being able to put everything on the web definitely makes it available and easy for people to see. I’ve actually had times where police officers look up my name on Youtube, and when [my SuperUnknown entry from 2006] comes up, I’m pretty embarrassed to stand next to them. [Laughs]
Did you make these segments for you or for your audience?
AD: It’s definitely a combination of both, but I think they’re more for myself for sure. I want to be able to look back, you know, when I’m old and can’t walk no more, and see that I did something. I want to be able to say that I took things into my own hands and did what I really wanted to do while I was skiing. I traveled and went to the places I wanted to go to, and saw the world as it is. It creates an experience for myself, and being in charge of all the decisions helps me grow myself as a person.
What have you learned from this first episode?
AD: I want to focus on the process quite a bit more. I see where we went wrong with certain shots, and where we went wrong with editing. There are just little minor tweaks that can make it a lot better. I don’t want it to be completely professional looking, but I now see where we can touch it up a bit.
Photo: Maria Sakvarelidze
What did you think about The Big Picture?
AD: Yeah man, Parker [White] and Chris [Logan]’s edit was insane. I love it. It’s cool when you see your friends come out with some banger shit that you had absolutely no part in. I had no idea what they were up to, and then all the sudden seeing that drop is awesome. It was the same with Hornbeck last year; I wasn’t along on any of the trips he did, and he came up with bangers. Seeing your buddies drop something like that is wild.
How do web projects like this succeed?
AD: Whether it’s The Big Picture, [Sean] Pettit’s Super Proof, Jacob [Wester]‘s Unfiltered, or whatever else, the more people who watch it, share it and view it, the more it’s going to help this side of skiing. I just want people to really realize how big of a difference that makes for us, as skiers. If everybody who enjoys it helps me share it and move it around, then it’s going to be a lot easier for other people to take this step and for myself to have sponsors behind it, which allows me to do it bigger and better next year.
Lastly, I just want to mention that although the next Flip the Script will be free, I am going to be doing a fundraiser for my parents. Both of them were diagnosed with cancer a month apart from each other last winter, and it’s been very hard for our family financially. Ma has always been a huge supporter of my skiing and Pops has came around to it as well; without their support, I wouldn’t be doing what I am, and I’d really like to return the favor. With the help of the ski community that they’ve allowed me to be raised in, I’d like to show them how awesome we can be to those in need. So, the second episode will be dedicated to them.
About the author:
A 24-year-old Montana native, Shane Dowaliby is the Video Editor here at Freeskier.