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Short Film 'My Ikon: My Connection' Explores Humanity’s Relationship to Place

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Shaandiin Tome directs gorgeous film through Stept Studios for Alterra Mountain Company
Short Film 'My Ikon: My Connection' Explores Humanity’s Relationship to Place

From creative production house Stept Studios comes the short film My Ikon: My Connection, a story about the deeply felt connection to the mountains that Connor Ryan, of the Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta people, and Lonnie Kauk, of the Ahwahnechee tribe, both hold. 

A film for the Alterra Mountain Company brand, Ikon Pass, My Ikon: My Connection was filmed on the original territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Numu and Monache people at three Ikon Pass mountain destinations – Winter Park Resort and Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado and Mammoth Mountain in California. The short is directed by the Diné (Navajo People) director Shaandiin Tome. Tome showcases indigenous values throughout the film, while simultaneously achieving a visceral, tangible sense of Ryan and Kauk’s highly personal love for their environment. With humility, appreciation, and passion, they move through the vast landscapes, explaining their intense relationship to their surroundings. Tome captures this bond through striking visuals without straying from the emotional resonance of their philosophy. 

Ryan and Kauk tap into their Native roots to better understand and relate to the majestic mountains on which they live, ski, and snowboard. Ryan, from Colorado, and Kauk, from California, were both taught by their elders to spend time in the mountains and to give thanks to the land that provides strength and offers a place of serenity. Their desire is to teach their ski and snowboard community of humans’ interconnectedness to one another and the land and encourage all to honor and respect the people who lived there first. 

This film is an example of Stept Studios striving to tell stories by filmmakers who have a personal relationship to the subject. Another instance is the film TranSending, which tells the story of Erin Parisi, a transgender woman training to conquer the Seven Summits. Released last summer, Stept partnered with hiking and outdoors brand Merrell, and worked with Parisi for over two years in order to find the perfect team to translate her heroic tale to the screen, including proper representation behind the lens. In order to achieve this, Stept often partners with independent directors to support them and realize their vision, and in the case of My Ikon: My Connection, that director is Shaandiin Tome.

Tome hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her unique perspective allows her to capture trailblazers in the indigenous community, bringing resonant imagery in convergence with story to illustrate the modern Native American experience. She has premiered her films at the Sundance Film Festival, received awards from various international festivals and shows, and has participated in the Sundance Creative Producers Summit and Sundance Talent Forum. 

Nick Martini, founder/CEO/director of Stept Studios says of My Ikon: My Connection: “These are the types of projects that our team gets excited about. We always feel lucky when we can share meaningful stories from real people. Everyone on the Ikon Pass team at Alterra Mountain Company has been so supportive of helping create films we can all rally behind.”

“We have worked on a range of films with Stept Studios for several years, looking to incorporate story-telling, humor and emotion,” said Erik Forsell, CMO, Alterra Mountain Company. “My Ikon: My Connection was a particularly special project, and we were honored to be able to help share Lonnie and Connor’s story through Shaandiin’s direction.”

“The importance of Native inclusion at the table is at the heart of this film,” says Connor Ryan. “Native people have always been a part of the stories of the mountains and it will be true into the future. I’d like the ski community to see themselves as a part of a longer and deeper story with the land, and to tap into that connection more. That way, we will all learn to live in greater reciprocity. The land is part of life's balance." 

“Our elders taught us to go up on the mountain to truly find your purpose, bring it back, share it with the family, and continue to grow that as far as you can,” concludes Lonnie Kauk.

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Creative & Production, Stept Studios

Director: Shaandiin Tome

DP: Chris Naum

Producer: Liz Leilani

Executive Producer: David Brickel

Sales EP: Paul Muhlbach & Lindsey Hagen

Head of Production: Mac Hedges

1st AC: Scott Daharb

Sound Mixer: Alex Boll

Photographer: Micheli Oliver

Talent: Connor Ryan, Lonnie Kauk

Set PA: Ben Page

Contract Coordinator: Kate Blasco

Camera Rental: Vault Rentals

Post

Post Production: Lockt Editorial

Head of Post Production: Connor Scofield

Post EP: Rebecca Jameson

Post Producer: Joaquin Villalobos

Lead Editor: Chris Naum

Assistant Editor: Cam Doherty

Finishing Editor: Liam Tangum

Colorist: Jensen Vinca

Sound Mixer: Eric Crepeau

Original Music: Forrest Goodluck

Graphics: Christian Carvallo

Genres: Scenic, Storytelling

Categories: Sports and Leisure, Outdoor Equipment

Stept Studios, Tue, 16 Mar 2021 09:30:41 GMT