MAY 2021

by Mike Ferrell

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A chorus of crickets and frogs compete with solo hoots of an owl and the cathartic smells of jasmine and gardenia sift through my screen door – North Carolina summer is here. The change of seasons and 90-degree heat has me in a state of reflection. I think about how next month is TopTop’s 1-year anniversary and how much has changed in such a short time. Life in the U.S. is starting to resemble times of old albeit vastly different. But I can start to plan travel and harness the excitement and energy of landing somewhere new or at least different.

As I write this “Reflections” by Diana Ross and The Supremes is playing in my head and it takes me back to being a kid in the late 80s, early 90s and staying up “late” to watch China Beach – you're welcome.

In March 2020 we were hired to work on a commercial project to honor the legacy and humble beginnings of Marmot and celebrate its future. Due to the pandemic, we couldn't shoot new footage to capture our vision but thankfully we were able to pivot. We utilized some footage from Nick and sourced footage from epic creative talent.

We named the edit "Stoke Your Fire" as the narrator is the “Wild”, reminiscing on the good times and reminding us that although the world has changed, the "Wild" hasn’t, and neither have we. So stoke the fire burning inside you and get outside and explore.⁠⁠

⁠⁠Marmot changed course throughout the year and never launched the edit but we're proud of our first project as a team.

Justin Dersham, affectionately known as “Dersh” to some, is a producer, director, and editor. He’s also one of the funniest people I’ve met and I don’t say that lightly. We hired Justin to be an editor on the first episode of our How To Series for The North Face and due to the quick turnaround we had him on location to edit. It was a good decision because not only is he great to have around but he has an uncanny ability to process information quickly and understand what makes a successful edit. Check out his work!

Little known fact, years ago Justin traveled the world competing as a mountainboarder. Mountainboarding is snowboarding without the snow using a board with “off-road” wheels. It doesn't sound like a good idea but I think you’re golden if you just throw on some Pit Viper shades and chug a Mountain Dew.

Alpha Mare is a short film by Victor Tadashi Suarez that taps into the past and psyche of Karin, a horse listener who lives in solitude in the hills of Marin County, California.

It reinforces that life isn’t a straightforward path but one of self-discovery if you’re willing to take the trip. It’s also a reminder that May is mental health awareness month. The past year has been isolating, difficult, but at times, beautiful and exciting. Let's check in with each other because you never know what a kind word or an open ear will do for someone.

Let's continue the theme of reflection and take a trip back to the 90s – the golden era of hip-hop. I had a blast putting this playlist together because it’s the music I grew up listening to and it brings me back to simpler times. Maybe a bit reckless but fun nonetheless. Hit shuffle and enjoy! Listen here!

Let's collaborate!

We're always looking to partner with good people and creative minds. So if you’re an athlete on a mission, a creative with a concept, or a marketer with an audience – we would love to collaborate with you. Email us, let's create something cool together.

APRIL 2021

by Mike Ferrell

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Earlier this month, my girlfriend and I spent a week in the North Carolina mountains to find our chi, relax, read, fly fish (which needs a lot of practice) and spend time in the woods. Over the course of a few days, we hiked a large section of the Bartram Trail and we noticed these tiny little white flowers that covered the ground throughout the forest. They were Carolina Spring Beauty, a native wildflower, and spring ephemeral. It felt special.

What I found out is ephemeral means transitory or quickly fading. Spring ephemerals quickly bloom and go to seed before the canopy trees leaf out and then die down before they rise again next season. I was inspired by the thought. How many things in our lives are like this? Ideas, friendships, inspiration, love, projects, and the list goes on. We live for moments of pure beauty. What we don’t see is while the flowers aren’t peaking, they’re planting seeds, turning to soil, and nourishing the Earth. While these moments of joy are brief, they are infinite, if you do the work for next season’s bloom.

Ephemerals are also edible, so bon appetit.

A couple of weeks ago Nick and Dutch had the opportunity to shoot for the legendary producer, director, and human, Frank Marshall. He’s produced films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple, Back to the Future, The Sixth Sense, and the two-part documentary, Laurel Canyon. Which I loved. Most recently, he directed the HBO documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Bee Gees before this doc but now I can’t help but be one. The brothers created genres and constantly evolved their music.

Dutch and Nick were hired to shoot for the upcoming documentary on Picabo Street for The Olympic Channel. Picabo was the first woman to win back-to-back World Cup downhill skiing titles and won the super G at the 1998 Winter Olympics and the downhill at the 1996 World Championships. The film is directed by Frank Marshall and Lindsey Vonn and produced by

Gary Cohen and Mandalay Sports Media, who produced the Michael Jordan documentary series, The Last Dance.

Nick and Dutch were truly honored to work under Frank and learn from the legend. Can’t wait to see its final edit. The next day, after the shoot, Frank was seen on stage singing with Jimmy Buffet. What a life!

I can’t mention the Picabo Street documentary without mentioning this exceptional human being, Claire Brown. Claire is a filmmaker and partner of Après Productions, which is helmed by Lindsey Vonn, the most successful female alpine skier in the history of the sport. Claire and Lindsey grew up ski racing together at a small race hill in Minnesota, so I wasn’t surprised when I watched an Instagram post of Claire hauling ass down a mountain – backward on skis – shooting someone in front of her.

Claire and Nick first worked together on the HBO documentary, Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season, which was nominated for two 2019 Sports Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Camera Work. Claire has brought us into a couple of projects and we can’t be more thankful to her for it and her friendship.

Check out The American Downhiller: A Historical Bond which was produced by Claire, who was also its cinematographer and editor, along with Susie Theis. Badass story.

Lorena, Light-Footed Woman is a 2019 short documentary directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo and starring Lorena Ramirez and her family. Lorena, now 26, is Tarahumara, a group of Indigenous people from Chihuahua, Mexico, known for their long-distance running. Lorena wasn’t aware of her running talent until she entered a race, and won. A lot of them and she only wears sandals. It’s a beautiful film.

You can find it on Netflix and read more about Lorena and her community in a story written for REI by Eugenia Coppel.

This was filmed last year in Montana and we hope it excites you for the warm weather and time with friends and family ahead.

No matter what land you walk on there is such beauty, sometimes in plain sight, sometimes you have to dig a little deeper. With this 60-second short, we wanted to capture the beauty of the land. It's simple things like going outside with friends. It might be raining but we can sit on a boat for 4 hours; fishing, laughing, sharing stories of life, and watching the world unfold around us. Click here to watch.

Words and Video by Nick Kalisz

Let's connect!

We're always looking to partner with good people and creative minds. So if you’re an athlete on a mission, a creative with a concept, or a marketer with an audience – we would love to collaborate with you. Email us, let's chop it up!

Updated: Apr 9

MARCH 2021

by Mike Ferrell

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The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out. This can only mean spring is finally here and we get a couple of more hours of light to explore or sit outside with a frosty beverage.

This time last year we were in the process of building TopTop, sheltering in place, and wondering what in the haberdashery the next 12 months would look like. Well, we’re grateful to have made it this far and are stoked about the year ahead. I got my first dose of the vaccine last week, Dutch is getting his today, and it’s truly exciting to see our friends and family get theirs. We’re not out of the woods yet but it feels damn good to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nick Russell is a professional snowboarder but maybe, more importantly, he’s a splitboarder. He spends his days hiking through mountain ranges to find the best conditions to hone his craft. This past winter Nick Kalisz spent a few days with Russell in the backcountry for Inertia, who just launched their Inspire Course, Nick Russell's Guide to Backcountry Basics. If you or anyone you know spend time in the backcountry or are interested in getting into it, we highly recommend checking it out.

We’ve been really fortunate to work with some talented folks and Jason McDaniel is definitely one of them. Jason is the sound designer and sound mixer behind Electric Audio based in Boulder, CO. He did all of the sound design and mixing for our The North Face How-To Series. He’s a true pro and delivers on time (or ahead of time) and on budget. He’s done some great work on other projects and we couldn’t be more proud to introduce his services to our TopTop fam.

Of the Sea by Jordyn Romero is a female-driven surf film that follows a mother and her entrepreneurial efforts to raise awareness of the world’s plastic consumption. Jordyn aims to reclaim the female narrative on-screen and amplify the voices of diverse women worldwide in the outdoor industry. She was also the editor of our Nick Russell Inertia Inspire Course and of course, killed it.

Jordyn is currently raising funds for a new short doc, We Are Like Waves, about overcoming barriers and cultural expectations to become one of the first local female surfers in Sri Lanka. It looks rad!

Nick has created a special Spotify playlist for us to gear up for spring and get ready to soak in all the vibes the warm weather has to offer. So turn on the tunes and kick off your shoes, it's beer-drinking weather.

Do you have a story to tell?

We're always looking to partner with good people and creative minds. So if you’re an athlete on a mission, a creative with a concept, or a marketer with an audience – we would love to collaborate with you. Email us, let's chop it up!