The one time I tried wakeboarding, the force from the boat pulling me nearly yanked my arms from their sockets. When I finally did get up on the board, it was an immediate faceplant into the crackling wake. Wakeboarding isn't easy, but I blame my goofus skills on the fact that I live in Idaho, where the water sports fanatics generally gravitate to kayaking and rafting the Gem State's river rapids. I mean, don't wakeboarders need motorboats and ramps in lakes or oceans? Lucky Peak barely shows up on a local map.
Sadly, I've learned my excuse is blown. Proof that Idahoans know wakeboards is the presence of Sidewayz Films, a wakeboarding film production and distribution company based here in Boise.
Ronn Seidenglanz, filmmaker and the owner of Sidewayz, began making movies and documentaries 10 years ago in Southern California. One day, wakeboarding found him.
"I met the guy who invented the wakeboard," he says of his introduction to the genre. "And it just sort of happened."
Seidenglanz left the shores of Cali several years ago for the, um, canals of Boise. Why the seemingly career-killing switch?
"I'm on the road filming all the time, filming a lot in Florida, all over the place," he explains.
Ah, so it doesn't really matter where he sets up shop because he has to get out to film anyway. But he says that he chose Boise, and not, say ... Florida, because he has family here. Good reason, for while he's concentrating on his films, his two young kids and wife can still play with relatives.
Sidewayz is no small beans. They are, in fact, one of the largest distributors of wakeboarding films--internationally up to their elbows in Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom. And Seidenglanz and his crew have made 10 films in the last 10 years, including the new release Such is Life, which had a national premiere here in Boise in early October. Log on to http://sidewayz.com to see a preview of the film or to peruse the crew's film guide with a lengthy list of Sidewayz titles.
In addition to the work, the filmmaking and the distribution, Seidenglanz appreciates the community. He aims to not only promote his own company, but to support the riders, other filmmakers, the wakeboarding industry and everyone else who shares the Sidewayz vision.
"Wakeboarding is a lot like other board sports," says Phil Skinner, the marketing and sales manager for Sidewayz. "It's an alternative to your traditional team sports or jock sports."
Skinner met Seidenglanz two and a half years ago when he needed assistance when the distribution leg of the company started to grow.
"You're not necessarily trying to compete to win," he adds. "You do it for yourself. There's satisfaction in learning new tricks ... and it gives you an opportunity to just hang out with your friends."
If you're like me (meaning you're lousy on a board), it makes you envious and frustrated to see wakeboarders careening the waves with flippant grace. But Such is Life is enjoyable for all viewers, including those squares like myself who are not necessarily skilled or knowledgeable in the arts of wakeboarding. In the opening scene, a dude aggressively navigates a peaceful river. What, a river? Yeah, riding as he's dragged by rope attached to a pick-up. It's beautiful, and perhaps exhibits a little Idaho influence. Or maybe it just exercises a little influence over Idahoans--get back on that board and hang on until your arms can take no more.