I hate November. In my opinion, it is the worst month of the year. In Utah, it is generally too wet, cold and snowy to ride bikes, but there isn't quite enough snow to ski, snowboard, or rip on a sled. Add to that the fact that it gets dark super early, and by the time most of my riding buddies get out of work the sun has long since set. Motivation is at an all time low. So there I am sitting around my house in November, working my way through a summers worth of bike photos, trying to make winter shooting plans, and getting distracted by the latest bike stuff on the web. Then my phone rings. It's Darren Berrecloth. He is sitting in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere Utah waiting for good weather. It turns out he has spent the last 2 weeks scouting and building lines for "Where the Trail Ends" and is wondering if I want to come down and shoot some photos. There is a window of good weather rolling in. It took me about 2 seconds to decide. The next morning I am headed south...
I was lucky enough to get out with Freeride Entertainment a few times while they were shooting in Utah. Once on a scouting/shooting mission, and a few more times in full-on film production mode. It was my first time being involved with a full feature MTB movie, and I was totally blown away by a lot of the stuff that went into making a production like this happen. Some days there were 20 guys out on location and some days only 2. Some of the biggest stuff that I witnessed went down with only a few people around to actually see it. It is pretty surreal to be in the middle of nowhere and be watching this level of riding go down with only 2-3 other guys around to see it. I watched Claw ride one of the gnarliest lines I had ever seen, at the end of which a few high fives were thrown, shots reviewed, and that was it. On to the next shot like it was no big deal. I saw Zink and Sorge attempt to front flip a classically imperfect big mountain jump on full 8 inch bikes, with no one around to witness it other than a couple filmers and myself. No fans, no friends, no mechanics, no industry insiders, just a couple other riders and a camera crew.
These riders and filmmakers work harder than most people will ever know to make this stuff happen. Pushing your bike and carrying water and tools for miles through the desert, and up thousands of feet of vertical for a 2 second shot is hard work. Hauling a 50 foot camera jib by hand up a mountain, with stands, counterweights, and cables is hard work. Batteries die, equipment breaks, weather changes, trucks get stuck, wind blows, heat waves come through, water runs out, but the film rolls on...
Here is a little glimpse of what I saw when I was on location with Freeride Entertainment in Utah. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
| Look very closely at this... Can you see him? This was the first run, on the first line of the day, first thing in the morning. All the shots and angles worked, so we quickly moved on to the next line. Nothing like bagging a shot in one take. This how the Claw operates.|
| The tools of the trade.|
| Building a lip in the middle of the Utah desert is no easy task. Once you break through the hard top layer of dirt, you get nothing but powdery dust, or crumbly gravel like clay. It takes a lot of time, a lot of water, and a lot of dedication to get anything done out here.|
| Bearclaw testing out the fruits of his labors. Looks like a pretty rad trick jump right? What you can't see in this picture is the landing, which was a super loose, super steep, 80 foot scree slope that most people would have a hard time just riding, let alone tricking into.|
| The stage is set, the cameras are ready, just waiting on the light...|
| Freeride Entertainment filmer Cory Horton taking advantage of the last few minutes of golden desert light.|
| When scouting lines from a distance, it is hard to tell what type of dirt you are dealing with. Sometimes something can look really good, but turns out to be too firm, or too loose to ride well. This can be especially frustrating when you are hiking 1000+ ft to get to the top of your line. Bourdo is the type of guy that isn't bothered by these kinds of details. He just rides it all and lets the filmmakers sort out what is "usable".|
| It isn't always helicopters following helicopters... Kyle Strait spent what seemed like 2 hours pushing his bike to the top of this remote Utah line.|
| Tyler McCaul and Kyle Strait spent days building this line, complete with a snowboard style perfectly groomed run in. When it was finally time to ride it, they didn't waste any time.|
| Reviewing the shot and... nailed it!|
| Axel Fostvedt is a MTB film making icon. I would bet that he has shot more of the most memorable footage in mountain biking than anyone else in the game... way more actually.|
| At some point in the process, the riders always have to give the filmers some sort of interview for audio clips. In my experience, most riders dread this part of the job. Paul Basagoitia handles it with style.|
| Minutes after bagging the interview clips, Paul Bass bags a tailwhip on this step up to rock ride to gap drop... The eye in the sky captures it all.|
| Once the initial building is done, there is a lot of set up time getting all the cameras ready. Especially when dollies and big crane jibs are involved. Kurt Sorge and Bravo spend some quality time together while watching the set-up circus come to town.|
Sorge warms up, and casually snaps a few tables on this feature while the jib operators dial in their camera movements.
Big Trucks, Moto's, Mountain Bikes, ATV's and some pork tenderloin on the tailgate BBQ. Freeride knows how to operate with style in the middle of nowhere.
| Bearclaw found and rode this line a few times on one of his many scouting missions. We snapped a few photos on it while he was feeling it out for some other filming possibilities...|
| If you let Cam Zink and Kurt Sorge loose together in the desert, then add a film crew to the equation, big things are definitely going to happen.|
| Cam Zink saved this front flip shot for last. This had been weighing heavily on both he and Sorge's mind throughout the trip. I stood and watched in awe as they both rolled in and mentally prepared for this. They both threw down and attempted it, but neither rode away.. Zink was really close, he landed the flip but just slightly under rotated it and got bucked. Landed or not, the point is this is where the sport is going.|
| The Claw closes it out. Can't go wrong with the sunset silhouette shot!|