Interview - Brandon Semenuk's 'Rad Company'

Oct 8, 2013
by Scott Secco  
 
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Red Bull Media House and Freeride Entertainment have begun production on a new mountain bike feature film: Brandon Semenuk's ''Rad Company.'' Based on the widely successful 'Life Behind Bars' YouTube series now in its second season, 'Rad Company' features Semenuk, Cam Zink, Cam McCaul, Stevie Smith, Ryan Howard, Yannick Granieri, Thomas Genon, Graham Agassiz and more.

Available in Spring 2014, 'Rad Company' will take the audience on a high performance visual ride from 'The Junkyard' to Utah, Kamloops to Retallack, and zones around the globe. Stunning imagery, progressive action, a plethora of riding and filming styles as well as cutting edge after effects - the film will pick up where the iconic NWD franchise ended nearly five years ago.


Graham Agassiz Brandon Semenuk Matt Miles take a time out on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC
Graham Agassiz, Brandon Semenuk, and Matt Miles take a time out on set of Semenuk's Rad Company in Kamloops BC



BRANDON SEMENUK



Semenuk on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC

You rode a dramatically reduced contest schedule this season. Was that due to the demands of filming for the movie or other factors?

Yea for sure, it takes an abundance of time to build, film, and edit an entire movie in one year. I probably still would have done the same without the movie, but this way I can keep myself busy and complete some goals of mine.


Each year riders counted on the NWD series to bring them the most progressive riding ever. Can we expect more of the same?

Damn rights! That is the heart and soul.


What makes this project unique?

Everything. All custom built trails and courses, cinematography is progressive in so many ways, new filming equipment, and ideas not seen in the MTB world before.

part of it on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC
on set of Brandon Semenuk s new film project Rad Company
inspecting the nugs on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC

How much creative input do you have on the film?

Quite a bit. Working with Freeride has been a great experience. Basically they are helping me create what I can picture in my mind. Saying that, we have all worked on this movie as a team, making sure everyone agrees on the direction at all times. Red Bull Media House has allowed us to drive the creative and take the film where we want. I cannot say enough about how cool the collaboration is and how supportive everyone is.

How did you select the riders?

The idea was to put the best athletes in the best locations (locations they excel in). Style and foot stance was also a factor in making each segment look different.

What has been the most fun section of the movie to shoot?

Could be because it’s so fresh in my mind, but I would say Kamloops. Even though this was a very difficult and stressful shoot. The last session we did had to be one of my favourite sessions of the year. So fun.

on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC
Semenuk Miles and Agassiz on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC
Graham Agassiz wanting it so bad to progress and paying the price...on set of Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company in Kamloops BC
Aggy wanting so bad to progress and paying the price.


bigquotesGrowing up, NWD was like the shining light at the end of the tunnel for me. When I woke up, came home from school or was about to go riding, I would pop in an NWD film. It gave me this governing sense of motivation and creativity. NWD represented the pinnacle of progression and what could be done on a bike, to team up with these guys and bring that inspiration back to the sport has given me an abundance of goals and a new drive for wanting to get out there on my bike. - Brandon


Loam and smoke machines.

What has been the most difficult?

Junkyard hands down. Longest, toughest shoot I've had in a while, and I think it would be safe to say that for one or two of the other athletes in that shoot too. Junkyard shoot left myself seriously malfunctioning two weeks from X-Games finals. Let’s just say the LBB episode was only a brief insight into that shoot…

Life Behind Bars has been a massive hit for you, has it changed your career at all?

I wouldn't say it has changed much for me, but the success of the show it has given me opportunities to do more of the things I want. Like "Rad Company".


Where would you like the sport to go? More focus on filming? Larger stunts at contests? More big mountain events?

I think a bit more of each, BUT done correctly. Quality over quantity.

Last season you raced rally cars; will you be doing that more this season? Any thought to crossing over full time like Travis Pastrana?

Very doubtful. No time to tackle something like that

Do you have any advice for aspiring young riders?

Sitting on your ass and talking about how hard it is doesn't take you anywhere.

Loam and smoke machines.
Loam and smoke machines.


DEREK WESTERLUND



Big D
Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.

The press release says that Rad Company is part of the New World Disorder series but the NWD franchise has been dormant for almost five years. Why bring it back now? Will it be NWD 11 or is it in a different category?

I think people are getting a little confused by this. The film is Brandon Semenuk's Rad Company. It is by no means NWD 11. It is going to be released and bannered under NWD Films as our core mtb brand. It is very much Brandon's film but we wanted the core market to understand that this film will be along the lines of what NWD represented translated to a modern youthful take on what Brandon represents. Put the two together and the equation = Bad Ass!

How does it feel to have influenced an entire generation of young riders and filmmakers?

Feels f*cking awesome!

Each year riders counted on the NWD series to bring them the most progressive riding ever. Can we expect more of the same?

Absolutely. That was the whole point of billing it as an NWD film. You get the most progressive riding with one of the world's most progressive riders...and the rest of the Rad Company.

What makes this project unique?

This film will be heavily stylized. Much different then anything we have done before. More along the lines of a high-end skate film fused with epic cinematography and filmmaking. All killer, no filler. Back to what we represented in mountain biking for over a decade.

How much creative input does Brandon have?

A ton! He is co-directing the film. This is very much a collaborative effort between the brain trust at Freeride and Brandon.

Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.
Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.
Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.

How did you pick the riders?

Brandon has picked the riders and most of them have been hand picked to represent a different style within the film. There will be some dudes in there that you do not get to see everyday in a high end filming circumstance and some that you know and love already.

Life Behind Bars debut season was a massive hit; did the response from viewers help inspire the movie?

100%. LBB is probably the most successful ongoing web property in mountain biking. The fact that the fans have rallied around the series gave us inspiration that a core film without a bunch of talking and slow motion dirt flying out of berms would be welcomed again. I think watching the trends of what has happened in the space is important. There is so much web content being produced on a daily basis so much of it is not retained. White Noise.., literally. All the stories have been told. Time to get back to what inspired us in the first place.

After the success of Where the Trail Ends why did you decide on doing another NWD film rather than focus on the big mountain scene?

Where the Trail Ends will likely morph into a television series. It was awesome to push the envelope with that film. There is NOTHING that has translated to the mainstream like that film did. People's mothers could watch that movie and appreciate it... and they did. At the end of the day there are only so many people doing that style of riding and actually persevering to go farther. We have always stood for pushing the sport but that film began and ended. We did not want to make "Where the Trail Really Ends." That is not to say that there will never be some sort of sequel but for now we are focusing on Rad Company for the MTB space. We have other projects on the go and are really working with the people and companies we want to work with now.

Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.
Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.
Brandon Semenuk s Rad Company.

bigquotesNWD was always about pushing the envelope with the riding and the film making, when we quit making NWD films, Brandon was really starting to peak. Knowing that level of talent was there and not being filmed really left us kicking ourselves that we did have more time with him along the way. Brandon is very much a visionary. With the success of Life Behind Bars and the fact the industry has really been missing a high end core film, Freeride Entertainment and Red Bull Media House figured that there was no better time to relaunch NWD films. - Derek Westerlund, Executive Producer of RAD COMPANY and founder Freeride Entertainment


Rad Company
Rad Company

We’ve seen the custom slopestyle course built from logging machinery; can you share any other segment concepts or locations we can look forward to?

Brandon is very much a visionary with these builds. There are some really cool locations being built out. In a lot of ways if feels like every existing stunt or trail on the planet has been filmed by one person or another. It is not like the NWD days. Even by the end of that, half the film companies were just going to shit we filmed years before and shooting it from a different angle. As a film company we have always been about being first. These locations are exactly that. First timers. Custom built for the film.

What does the production crew look like for this movie? How many people are working on the film? Anyone from the NWD days?

This film is being driven by the same people who have brought you all the cool shit from Freeride over the years. Brandon, myself, Aaron Whitley the LBB director. Jeremy Grant and Brad McGregor the award-winning director and DP of Where The Trail Ends. Axl Fostvedt is the hardest working guy in the mountain bike industry over the years and a bunch of other badass cinematographers.

Rad Company
Rad Company
Rad Company
This man has shot some of the most important moments in mountain bike history.
Alex Fostvedt: the man has probably documented more defining moments in mountain bike history than anyone.

What has been the most fun section of the movie to shoot?

Well...we're not done yet so that is a tough one. We will be shooting through the winter and pushing for spring release if all goes well. We have some other really cool shoots to come.

What has been the most difficult?

It sounds like the shoot Brandon and Aggy were just on in Kamloops was a war of attrition with the weather. The weather is always the X factor and you can't control it. Stoked to have Aggy back on board and in front of Freeride's cameras.

What kind of cameras, lenses, and gear will you be using?

All the usual stuff but we are experimenting with some new toys. Phantom cable cameras. Movi's etc. Freeride bought a Cineflex Elite earlier this year so expect some really epic aerial shooting courtesy of Brad McGregor.

Brandon Semenuk performs on his mountain bike at Retallack Lodge near Nelson BC Canada on August 1st 2013.
Thomas Genon performs on his mountain bike at Retallack Lodge near Nelson BC Canada on July 30th 2013.
Brandon Semenuk Thomas Genon and Yannick Granieri hang out on their bikes at Retallack Lodge near Nelson BC Canada on July 30th 2013.

Where would you like the sport to go? More focus on filming? Larger stunts at contests? More big mountain events?

All of the above. I think movies did a lot for this sport. But at one point it became way over saturated. I think at one point there were like 20 MTB movies a year coming out. Way too much! I think the contest scene is pretty redundant except for the Rampage. Even the Joyride course lost a bit of the "awe factor" this year. To me freeriding from a contest standpoint is basically dirt jumping. I really don't agree with that. Cam McCaul and I went to Black Sabbath together a couple weeks ago and talked a lot about how rad it would be if there were more natural terrain contests. Places where guys who can actually ride a bike could excel. It doesn't all have to be massive like the Rampage, but on that note the Rampage is still the pinnacle. It separates the men from the boys.

Do you have any advice for aspiring young riders or filmmakers?

Rely on determination, talent, and perseverance to achieve your goals. The glory days of sponsorship in the MTB industry are gone. There are no more free rides.



Photos
Sterling Lorence
John Gibson
Adrian Marcoux
Justin Olsen
Scott Serfas



redbull.com/bike

60 Comments

  • + 52
 Can't wait for the April release!
  • + 27
 I literally feel exactly how I did as a kid when the next NWD film came out: SO AMMPPEDDD!! This is going to be sick
  • + 10
 How can there possibly be "way too many" mountain bike films released? Seems like a biit of a ridiculous statement to me. Not like more movies is going to somehow take away from the sport?
  • + 12
 Seriously. There aren't enough full length movies. Nothing wrong with a couple of shreddits to get you out on a ride, but I swear I've watched where the trail ends like ten times when I'm bored.
  • + 3
 but, i have watched that movie over and over it it is still as good as the first time i watched it.
  • + 2
 Not saying I'm bored yet...
  • + 1
 films do get old if you can remember every single part of them.. doesnt matter if its biking or whatever haha
  • + 6
 A bit discouraging to me. Ive been wanting to start working on a couple longer videos. I guess if I do end up making them ill know they wont be supported by Derek Westerlund hahaha
  • + 2
 this movie gonna be kick ass! super pumped for that junkyard course..dope
  • + 2
 AN lets get it on! Cant wait gonna be so sick so much hype! YEAH
  • + 5
 @rexbikes - don't be discouraged, just make it awesome. The problem was there were a lot of good films coming out, but very few great films. The good films all kinda blend in to one, whereas the great ones stand out, and are still talked about. Right now, every other person owns an HD camera, and a lot of them can come up with good creative angles. It takes a lot more than that to stand out now - new trails, new locations, new riding styles, new stories, even more creative angles etc. Don't be discouraged, just strive to make something awesome.
[Reply]
  • + 14
 Sitting on your ass and talking about how hard it is doesn't take you anywhere. Thank you Brandon, That's all that I needed! Now I will be winning Rampage and landing Flip Whips in no time!
  • + 7
 To bad school exists… but that that's not an excuse!!
  • + 8
 Are you familiar with the term "Hooky"?
  • + 1
 Brandon related to Kirsten Dunst?
  • - 4
 Typical bullshit reply from some rich guy who was lucky enough to make it.
  • + 6
 @laynehip, What were you expecting, a list of tricks to learn? Or a step by step book on how to ride a bike? As far as I’m concerned this is the only real answer to that question, I suppose he could have been a little more pc and said never stop practicing and putting yourself out there but instead it said it how it is
  • - 1
 There really is no advice you can give that is worthwhile. I wasen't looking for that or any other advice. I was just commenting on the fact it is the exact bullshit answer most rich guys give. They assume that if you aren't rich you don't work hard and just sit on the couch and complain.
  • + 4
 that comment has nothing to do with being rich or poor at all, yea sure they may be rich now but they all got to where they are because they put their prioriteis in a different order then your average person.
[Reply]
  • + 14
 Shit mountain bikers say, in one word: progressive
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Did anyone else notice McCaul in the photo where Zink and Semenuk are sat in the pick up?
[Reply]
  • + 10
 bitch slapped my little brothers friend for callin my john deere a john queer
  • + 1
 take ur tank top and ur tonka truck and kick rocks
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Firstly: I'm stoked for this. It seems like a great concept and I think that having a rider, Brandon Semenuk no less, involved so heavily in the directing/production will undoubtedly make for an amazing movie!!
But... I gotta say, I think Derek Westerlund bashed the competition a little too heavily. Yes, the market is saturated with web-edits... but full length movies that you pay 30$ for on dvd still definitely have their place in this industry and that market, in my opinion, is not saturated. No need to bash on the unnamed production companies coming out with slow-mo dirt-glorifying shots (cough*anthill*cough cough*2ndbase), because it's all different. I have over 50 biking dvds and each one has its time and place and provides a different mood/ambiance depending on the music, amount of talking, disciplines of riding featured, locations...
Also the argument of "we were there first" well... if it's done with a different tone, different rider, different shots who gives a sh*t? I find that sort of accusatory "we were there first" thing very immature... it's like an artist painting a canvas -- you don't say "hey, you're using a white canvas. I've already done that, you're being unoriginal".
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Really interested to see this one. Derek's right in that there's been a trickle-down effect in terms of the quality of film-making now uploaded to Pinkbike on an almost daily basis. I used to pay $50 a pop for the Earthed movies which were shot on mini DV and looked pretty average. By comparison Freeride, Kranked and Collective really occupied a higher space in terms of quality of filmmaking and effort put in to achieve amazing shots.

Today guys like Laroque, Mendel, Goldstein et al bring that kind of quality to their videos which we watch for free - lucky for us!

From what I've seen in the LBB episode and now this, it looks they've gone to town on this one. Can't wait to see the outcome!
[Reply]
  • + 5
 The guys at Freeride are great! I'm always stoked to hear what they are up to, and you can bet this will be an amazing movie.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 "To me freeriding from a contest standpoint is basically dirt jumping. I really don't agree with that. Cam McCaul and I went to Black Sabbath together a couple weeks ago and talked a lot about how rad it would be if there were more natural terrain contests. Places where guys who can actually ride a bike could excel."

AMEN TO THAT. Hope something comes of this.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 he, are doing a beautifull job, and i am sure that the success and style of Brandon Semenuk's 'Rad Company' go hand in hand, is a complete shame that we can not fully enjoy in our country Venezuela, and I'm sure many off yours have not even heard the name of this country, but we are many fans and lovers of the sport in these parts, many congratulations and success for all.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Man today is a good day to get stoked! First the arrival trailer then this! So stoked!!!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Say progressive one more time
[Reply]
  • + 4
 RAD COMPANY, i can't deny....RAD COMPANY until the day I die!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 There better be a super sick intro into the movie like the NWD films to get that extra stoke
  • + 5
 If they bring back BC/DC I'll freak right the hell out.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 I'm not sure how big a black bear is but those jumps looked HUGE!!
  • + 2
 Was gonna say, did anyone else spot the bear!
  • + 1
 that one looked like a cub, but even at that the jumps are massive!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 im sorry, i just want to know what rad mean?
i always hear about it, but i dont know what it mean
  • + 2
 rad means radical
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The slopestyle riding is cool but I love watching Aggy ripping up downhill lines! Looking forward to watching this movie.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 It's like life behind bars.. Only way better and 10 times as long
  • + 5
 So... 20 minutes?

;p
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Can't wait for the new video, STOKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 There's a bear in there
  • + 1
 Found it :-) took me way to long but i found it!!!!
  • + 2
 Or is it Intern in a bear suit?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 so many sick videos/movies coming out
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'll i can is... STOKKKKKKEEEEEDDDDD
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This gonna be RAD
[Reply]
  • + 1
 wake me up when March end ~
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This looks fuckin rad!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 apntame a los huevos, cabron
[Reply]
  • + 1
 SOOOOOOOO. STOOOKED. FOR FORTUNE!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 is it a bear????
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Praise Jebus!!
[Reply]
  • - 1
 one day all of this will be like a walk in the park
[Reply]
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