Q & A

Clayton Vila

Street Science: Clayton Vila and All the Little Things

Tiny Block Island, RI, is 14 miles east of Montauk Point, Long Island, NY, and 13 miles south of mainland Rhode Island. With a population just north of 1,000 and no notable hills, it may come as a surprise that one of those thousand residents would become one of the most influential street skiers of the last two generations. In Clayton Vila’s mind, however, he’s not really a skier in the common sense of the word.

Ten years ago, a young Vila, wearing a baggy, below-the-waist flannel and shorts, skied in his island backyard. He perfected tricks on a homemade Snowflex in-run to a PVC pipe rail. The surfer-turned-skier filmed and edited his homemade short, “Clayton Vila Shreds Block Island,” to the Lil Wayne track, “No Worries.” 

When he published the edit on July 4, 2008, Vila foreshadowed his future pursuits—now 27 years old, he lives in Los Angeles where he self-directs his content and swings wide of mainstream editing styles to push the envelope of ski films as an art form. His debut documentary, For Lack of Better, earned Film of the Year at the Powder Awards in 2015. His 2018 film Back to Life, which chronicles the health struggles of standout freestyle competitor Torin Yater-Wallace, received critical acclaim after airing on ABC. It’s now entered into film festivals with the hope of making a long-shot Oscar run…

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