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How to drop out of school and pursue your dreams

Former WWU student enters Mt. Baker Film Fest, accomplishes year long goal

Photos from the 24th Annual Mt. Baker Film Fest at Mount Baker Theatre on Oct. 19, 2023. Eric Krings film "Learning to Bake" won the people's choice awards on Oct. 19, 2023. // Photos courtesy of Mt. Baker Ski Area / Janus Kober

One year ago, Eric Krings sat in the crowd at the Mt. Baker Film Fest, watching Jim Bob's Powder Production win the people's choice award for their film “Visual Appetite.” 

“I can't see why I couldn't do this myself with all my friends,” Krings said. “I told myself that night, I'm gonna win this thing.”

This year, Krings's film “Learning to Bake” was the fourth film shown in the first show of the film fest. 

On Oct. 19, 2023, Krings entered the theater on crutches, with a broken ankle from mountain biking, emotionally raw from injury, hospital drugs and the heartbreak of not being able to snowboard during the coming winter. 

The Mount Baker Theatre was full of ski and snowboard enthusiasts, decked out in merchandise excited to see some impressive turns, flips and camera work. 

The film fest was in two parts, one at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 9:30 p.m., each with six films shown.

“It's to give a platform to local and independent filmmakers who would not necessarily be able to share their work on this scale,” said Eliah Drake of Mt. Baker Ski Area in an email. 

There was no charge for the filmmakers to enter, and Mt. Baker Ski Area pass holders received free entry and made up the majority of the crowd, Drake said. 

Krings moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University, but when a shoulder injury sent him home, he had the opportunity to reassess his decisions. 

“I realized that I wasn't really enjoying what I was doing in school and I had this passion for filmmaking and photography,” he said. 

Krings had met other filmmakers in Bellingham who were making a living off the craft. He dropped out of Western, got a restaurant job and dedicated his free time to filming on the mountain. 

“I've always just really looked up to people who have appreciated Baker, the whole snowboarding community holds it in a very high esteem,” said Krings, who has been snowboarding with his parents since he was four years old. 

“It’s not a corporate ski area … it’s never really crowded and the people at Baker are all doing it for the same reason, because they absolutely just love what they do,” said Casey Myers, one of the skiers in “Learning to Bake” and a third-year at Western. 

Krings committed to bringing his camera gear with him 99% of the days he was on the mountain. He frequently shot with a friend he met his first year in Bellingham, Nolan Robins. 

“He's working on his little craft while I'm working on my little craft … like some painters in a room goofing around together for a whole day,” Krings said.

Krings found himself challenged when filming groups of people. Over time, he saw his confidence as a filmmaker grow in search of the perfect shot.  

“The better I developed an ability to communicate, ‘Hey, I really want to work on this passion project of mine, I would really appreciate it if you helped me,’ I started to get better and better results,” he said. 

Halfway through the film, the camera showed Krings taking a break from editing, grabbing his bike, and taking some jumps around trees, a shot he had filmed the day before uploading. 

“It was just like a natural way in my head to chop it up and provide a little breath of fresh air between it all,” he said, acknowledging that skiing and snowboarding movies can get a little boring. 

In the week leading up to submission, Krings planted himself on Myers’ couch to edit. “He gets in this really nice focused pocket where he just sits on our couch for hours on end and just edits. Doesn’t say anything, doesn’t do much,” Myers said, calling his friend a perfectionist. 

Krings has been staying with Myers as his passion project forced him to put a hold on converting a sprinter van to live in, a growing trend amongst young people, including some Western students. 

In the minutes before uploading, he still didn’t have a name for the film. Krings didn’t want to take himself too seriously. It’s all playful and fun, he said. 

“I wanted the title to encapsulate Mount Baker while also encapsulating the fact that it was my first full winter there and that it was very much a learning experience. … There are a lot of people who come before me there,” Krings said. 

After the films were shown, the audience was asked to cheer for who they thought deserved to win. A decibel reader was used to measure the cheers in the auditorium. 

Krings’ friends, surrounding him in the seats, had been cheering through his film, growing louder when a face they recognized showed up on the big screen. It was not hard to guess what would happen.

When his film was named, screams and shouts came from the crowd. It was a close call between “Learning to Bake,” “Rain Dogs,” by Korua Shapes and “Jake Mageau’s Wind For Whistles” by Level 1 Productions. 

When the results came back, Krings was announced as the winner, earning him $542 and a surreal moment of emotion and accomplishment after a year full of injury and self-reflection. 

“The best part of the whole evening was seeing that Eric won, 'cause he's had kind of a bad luck run over the past year,” Myers said. 

The announcer delivered the giant check to his seat as Krings’ girlfriend and friends engulfed him and his cast. 

“[It was] one of my favorite things that ever happened to me in my whole life,” Krings said.

Jemma Alexander

Jemma Alexander (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front. She is a senior majoring in journalism new/ed and minoring in Arab American studies. When she's not doing homework, Jemma is likely working, talking loudly over movies with her roommates or dancing ’till she drops. You can reach her at

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