In the valley of orange that we live in, there is much emphasis on the time-honored tradition of football, basketball, and other popular sports.
In the midst of the orange blood that we all swim and live in, there is a large movement of young new sports that are emerging on a gigantic platform that most of us (even I) ever thought possible.
Wakeboarding in Knoxville is one of the fastest growing sports to emerge in recent years. This barely 17-year-old sport has begun to grow at rapid rates here locally. With much of the action sports that surround us today, there is also a culture that goes with it. Just as the pride of Tennessee Vols bleed orange to show faith, many of these wakeboarders do the same through their daily lifestyles.
Alex Oliver, a 19-year filmmaker, producer, club dancer, target shooter, chimpanzee trainer, earth lover, and wakeboarder, is true example of where the progression of this sport is heading. Oliver produced and directed a local wakeboard film of Knoxville wakeboarders that has not only received local acclaim, but also national awards.
As the tradition of helmets, pads, and jerseys continues there is a new breed of sport that is showing dedication and growth with the young and old local rippers. I sat down with Oliver to find out why the passion of this young filmmaker is becoming one of the voices of young and old Knoxville, and who is the “Hatcherhoff”.
How old are you and where are you from?
18 and Knoxville, TN
What is the name of your movie?
How many copies have you sold to date?
What made you decide to get into filming and why did you choose wakeboarding?
I’ve always been interested in video and once we purchased our first boat and wakeboard I decided to mix the two. My dad works at a local TV station, so as a Christmas present he had Carson Hunt, a local video editor, put together a wakeboard video of us. We definitely weren’t good wakeboarders at the time, but we felt so cool seeing ourselves on screen that I knew I had to do something similar for the next season. That motivated me to buy my own equipment, and once it arrived I found that I really loved wakeboarding videography and it evolved into a passion of mine.
What is your vertical leap?
A foot? Haha! I don’t really know.
Because I’m nowhere close to being a pro wakeboarder! Haha! I love being creative with video. To see people enjoy what I’ve produced keeps me motivated to film.
What equipment do you use?
To avoid the technical jargon, two Sony high definition digital video cameras and an iMac with Final Cut.
Tell us about the movie premier?
Southern Style premiered on August 15, 2007 at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in downtown Knoxville. It was a great venue for a video premiere and we had an unbelievable evening! There was a live remote for the premiere on “Live at Five” by WBIR-TV, which was a complete surprise and a great way to spread the word! By the time the video was ready to play, there was standing room only. I couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and it just goes to show how great and supportive the KnoxWake scene truly is!
How did you choose the riders?
Initially, I remember you (Ryan Jones) and I talking about how many great, unexposed wakeboarders there are in Knoxville. I began by going to the Wakeshop at American Boat Center and Mission Boarding Company at Overboard Watersports to see if they would be interested in sponsoring the video. Both shops were were greatly supportive of the idea, and so we began to film with their team riders. Then one day Daniel Walden, a pro rider, called me out of the blue to see if I could help him edit some video he was working on. I offered to do it, so we started hanging out and have been great friends ever since. Then I went to the National Wakeboard League tournament held on Fort Loudon Lake where I met Corrie Dyer, Phillip Aslinger, Drew Irons, Justin and Jordan Jenkins, and a bunch of other awesome riders who were totally down for being in the video. I then gave Jeff House a call and asked him if he would be interested in riding in the video. He was super eager to be a part of it and we soon caught up on Watts Bar to film. I couldn’t have asked for a better lineup for Southern Style!
What did you want the movie to represent?
The purpose of Southern Style was to introduce all of the great wakeboarders in the Knoxville area. We also wanted to show people that you don’t necessarily have to be in Orlando or Lake Powell to have a good place to wakeboard! But most importantly, Southern Style represents how much fun it is to be a part of the KnoxWake community!
How do you think the level of Knoxville riders compares to that of other areas?
I think Knoxville has some absolutely fantastic riders and great potential for upcoming talent. East Tennessee is home to pros like Daniel Walden and Jeff House, and rising talent like Justin Jenkins, Philip Aslinger, and Corrie Dyer, just to name a few. There are so many beautiful lakes and waterways in and around Knoxville that provide a great opportunity to get into wakeboarding. Although Orlando, Florida is known as the “wakeboard capital of the world”, I think Knoxville riders and the entire KnoxWake scene is truly making an impact on the sport.
Big Mac or Whopper?
I heard that you filmed this from a floating fire truck, true or false?
True, luckily the alarm only went off twice. Haha! We did spend one week this summer on a houseboat courtesy of Sequoyah marina on Norris Lake. It was a great chance to hang out, ride, and film with all of the riders. The houseboat was definitely a crucial element to Southern Style. I think when I returned home I logged somewhere around 20 hours of footage onto my computer!
You received some national response from several website, tell us about that?
Definitely! Most recently, Daniel Walden’s section from Southern Style won 1st place in the action sports channel on OurStage.com and Jeff House’s section took 2nd place! Southern Style also received a great response on both KnoxWake.com and Wakeboarder.com.
How do you think Knoxville is growing in wakeboarding and why?
I think Knoxville wakeboarding is growing in great part due to KnoxWake.com, set up by Chris Moon. The site is a great place to meet new riders, talk about events, get tip tricks, and more. Also rail jams like Bent Fork, Rail-O-Ween, the Rock and Rail Jam, and the weekly events at Wild Wings Cafe have really given wakeboarding a ton of exposure in Knoxville. When people attend these
events, they see how much fun it is to be a part of the wakeboarding community here in Knoxville!
Are you going to make another movie?
Have you ever been to the Netherlands?
No, but I’d love to go!
Do you see Knoxville getting more national recognition for wakeboarding films?
I hope so! In the next video we hope to have a mixture of both nationally recognized riders as well as a solid group of local Knoxville riders. I think this will help give our wakeboarding community the exposure it deserves!
Do you plan on filming outside the realm of wakeboarding?
For sure! I would love to do more snowboarding videography. Although east Tennessee isn’t the prime location for great snow, Snowshoe Mountain and Appalachian both have great parks and even better riders! I actually just got back from Jackson Hole, Wyoming which really motivated me to get some footage on the snow next season! Also, I have enjoyed producing some local commercials and have worked with several local companies on promotional videos, one being XTP (Xtreme Tower Products) in Maryville, Tennessee.
Is there anyone you want to thank?
Do I have a time limit? Haha! Firstly, God, my family, and then you, my friend (Ryan Jones)! Thanks to Knoxify.com, American Boat Center, the Wakeshop, Overboard, Mission, Travis Marine, Pilot Travel Centers, SoBe No Fear, Label Industries, XTP, Kurt Jenkins at DMG Productions, Sequoyah Marina, Chris Moon and KnoxWake.com, Barley’s, Jennie Huettel, Daniel Walden, Nick Oliver, Rob Crawford, “The Hatcherhoff”, Blake Jones, Matt Waters, Carson Hunt, Alpine Ski Center, Rolf Lanz, Pluto Board Sports, all of the many chase boat drivers, my four-legged friend Queso, and of course all of the riders who are pushing the sport here in Knoxville!
Nike or Converse?
Who is the “HatcherHoff”?
No comment, but I can tell you one thing “Gatlinburg TriAthlete of the Year 1982”.
Thanks to Alex for his time for talking with Knoxify.com, and all the work he does. To view excerpts from his film “Southern Style” visit jaopro.com and click on videos.