Tomorrow, the final episode of the We Are The Faction Collective web series will drop. Before we talk about that, let’s rewind the tape to January 6, 2014. Faction Skis has just released the first episode of the series. Episode one featured the Internet-breaking talents of Adam Delorme and Candide Thovex. The inaugural video also served to introduce Faction’s fresh and extremely talented roster of athletes that included Duncan Adams, Tim McChesney, Simon D’Artois and Cody Cirillo among the backdrop of Breckenridge, Colorado—Faction’s North American headquarters. A comment on the original freeskier.com post, written by Ian Wellman, reads: “This edit is so dope, best I’ve seen in a while…” Mr. Wellman’s comment was an understatement. The initial installment was the jumping off point for one of the most successful and well received brand-supported web series to date. And it did so much more than just market the brand.
The squadron of skiers that make up the Faction team can’t be pigeon-holed into one discipline of skiing over another; each individual looks at the mountain in a unique way and has strengths that transcend the park, pipe, resort, backcountry, etc. The team at Faction did their best to showcase these strengths—and the differences between the athletes—to the masses in the web series.
“There are a lot of surprises [in the series] because a lot of the riders you may not know that well but they’re all really talented,” says Tim McChesney. “It’s a good team with so many different people from all over the world.”
From Switzerland to British Columbia to France and all points in between, the team hails from very diverse locations ’round the world. As such, Faction sought to bring attention to that element in their videos. “We’re based all over the world, so we tried to travel,” says Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson, North American marketing manager for Faction. “Whether it was in the backwoods of Montana that [Adam] Delorme is so familiar with or La Clusaz with Candide [Thovex] showing everyone around his home mountain. It was having the team get a taste of all of these different places where Faction is alive.”
The diverse location selection in the series served to captivate the viewers, but it also allowed the athletes to travel the Earth, to places they’d never been in order to push their skiing to new heights.
“Pretty much everyone has been on a different and unique type of trip for the web series,” explains McChesney. “I’ve been to Argentina, snowmobiled in Cooke City, hit handrails in eastern Europe. There’s a lot of variety in the episodes which I think is really cool. You get the trip story along with a lot of great action which is nice. It’s not just a basic ski porn-type of edit.”
And the proof is in the pudding. Throughout the web series, the crew has displayed their talents in Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Cooke City, Jackson Hole, Chamonix, Tignes, La Clusaz, Argentina, Poland, Estonia and Finland. Awe-inspiring ski locations are certainly part of the appeal of any web series, but it takes talent behind the lens to captivate an audience, as well. That’s where former team rider turned cinematographer Etienne Merel comes into play. Merel has filmed and edited each of the nine episodes in the web series and is responsible, in part, for the unique feel of each.
“He’s really talented, I had never filmed with him before, or really even heard of him before [the beginning of the series],” explains McChesney. “I think everyone was pleasantly surprised about how much effort he put into the job. He’s really good with the camera and he’s down to put in a lot of work, so it’s pretty awesome filming with him.”
Merel says that he tries to find inspiration for his work by consuming a ton of other action sports videos on the Internet. “I try to make something different just because I don’t want to make another park video or a video you’d see everyday on the Internet,” he explains. “It’s super hard to try to create something unique and different, but I think we’ve created [a web series] with a unique atmosphere I would say.”
In addition to the filming and editing portion, Ambrogi-Yanson cites Merel’s ability to work with the athletes as a major plus. “Etienne has been phenomenal at telling the story. He’s got this great eye for filming and is super good at getting people to work together and feed off each other,” she says.
In the end, in a marketing sense, the web series has put Faction on the map, internationally. The brand’s products speak for themselves, but it’s the exposure of its athletes skiing incredible terrain across the world that’s resonated with skiers.
“Whether we thought it would or not it’s been a great way to tell our story and to showcase these guys who represent what we stand for in skiing and what we as a brand think is important in a way that we probably wouldn’t get across doing other things,” explains Ambrogi-Yanson.
And so the web series culminates with the final episode of season three set in Verbier—Faction’s headquarters. It’s come full circle, from the North American base of operations in Breckenridge for the premiere episode to Verbier for the final video of the We Are The Faction Collective web series as we know and love it.
“To sort of bring it back to Verbier where it all began for Faction is really special,” explains Ambrogi-Yanson. “It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together for one last hurrah.”
The future of video for Faction isn’t public yet, although Merel hinted at the possibility of a team movie next season. Whatever the next iteration is, skiers everywhere can look back fondly on nine spectacular episodes and look forward to what comes next.