Welcome to Madeira Island. Home of Portugal’s best mountainbikers like Emanuel Pombo and Rui Sousa, home of Portugal’s longest freerides and sickest trails as well as home of MADproductions.
Since as early as 2006, MADproductions have been making films about some of the personalities involved in various extreme sports practiced on the island, also incorporating the islands unique sceneries and beauty. Antonio Abreu, the man behind it all, a keen mountain biker himself, is currently studying Multimedia at Porto University. Whenever he finds the time, Antonio starts interesting projects such as the Vicious Path films and The Comeback web documentary.
The MADproductions “crew” consists of António and some of his close friends that get involved in the project at hand. They vary depending where and who António is filming. Though in every case, afternoons shooting with MADproductions are a lot of fun, spent in the middle of nowhere with friends having a good laugh.
The images captured in some of MADproductions films and photo shoots have gained great notoriety among the portuguese biking community and on the internet. On multiple occasions these films have found themselves on Pinkbike’s front page with VOD and on many tourism blogs promoting Madeira’s unknown young, vibrant and wild side.
Back in February 2011, Madeira suffered some of the coldest weather in many years. Thick snow fell at 800m and above, covering the mountains in a beautiful white coat, an unknown sight to many of the locals. MADproductions got on the case, and started the Vicious Path project.
Antonio’s idea was to capture the difference in terrain between the top of the mountain, and the end of the trail. At temperatures close to freezing, snow and ice, Rui Sousa took on the challenge and found himself in conditions perfect to “drift” in.
The combination of a plush style along with incredible technique made him an ideal rider to work with. He even brought along his very own spaghetti bolognese mix, that has now become a custom on shoots, many times bringing along a little extra for some of the crew. His good spirit and flow on two wheels captivated António, and they started to plan their next film.
After 5 busy months at university, summer had finally arrived and so had the holidays. This meant that it was time to start the second half of the Vicious Path project. On several long and hot summer evenings, Rui, Antonio and a few others would go and ride the long trail that stretched all the from Pico do Areeiro (featured in the first film) down to Funchal’s bay. With a few tools in their rucksacks and an SLR, the crew slowly began clearing the path that ran in the dense forest above Funchal and documenting the progress with beautifully lit photos.
A few days later, the trail had become completely renewed. Every curb and lip had become shaped to perfection thanks to Rui and his attention to detail. Although his obsession maybe time consuming, and a matter subjected to high levels of banter, this attention to detail is clearly reflected in his riding style. MADproductions where now ready to initiate the filming and editing for the second half of the project.
Both episode became an instant success. Kicking off with a rocky single track starting at the top of Pico do Areeiro (Madeira’s second highest peak) at 1880m, the tough trail then opens up and runs down the top of the mountain that takes you to Funchal city.
Full of technical obstacles, this path runs across Madeira’s “Levadas” (water channels, that connect different points of the island) as well as wide dirt roads and grass routes with plenty of natural jumps and berms. The breathtaking views, beautiful dark blue sea in the background and some of the islands rare flora add to the unique experience of riding in Madeira.
Back in Rui’s hometown, Água de Pena, an unusual looking abandoned piece of land, full of different kickers and curbs rested unused. This place is dear to Rui, as it was here well mountain biking began and it was the venue chosen for MADproductions’ next film.
António summoned the MADproductions usuals and a few other people with a will to dig and a good sense of humour. Pedro Freitas, Madeira’s most well known action sports photographer also agreed to help out, documenting every step of the way behind his fat Canon L lenses. The refurbishment process began, and in a matter of 3 days, Rui’s local spot had completely transformed into a bikers playground. A few jumps had grown bigger, a few new ones came up and many new lines appeared. This gave Antonio a great deal to work with as he knew that Rui could hit every line spot on, even with his eyes shut.
This was a great place to work at, as everyone brought along their bikes and rode around this fantastic spot. Filming near Rui’s place was great, the riders kept challenging themselves to step up their riding and tricks and the weather was fantastic.
At the end of the final day of filming, MADproductions had a big get together at Agua de Pena. Everyone that had been involved with all the different films turned up. A line of motorbikes, mountainbikes, a border line legal bonfire and tons of food and drink made it a memorable evening.
After going back to University, Antonio continued to work on his biggest project yet, The Comeback, a documentary about Emanuel Pombo’s road to recovery. In August 2010, Pombo suffered a horrific crash in his practice run at the Val di Sol DH World Cup, where he had qualified with a solid result. The crash resulted in a fracture in (add vertebrae) and Pombo was told there was little chance he would ever ride again. However, Pombo was extremely lucky as damage done to his neck and back where not permanent.
When Pombo returned to Portugal, Antonio followed him from doctors appointments, to physiotherapy, to gym sessions to his first rides! The help and support Pombo received from friends and family is evident in the film, making it very special to watch.
Many weeks of filming and editing later, the documentary went online. It was shared by hundreds of Portugal’s mountain bikers and got the media’s attention. In December, both Emanuel and Antonio were interviewed by the local TV station and “The Comeback” was aired.
MADproductions are currently working on a few other projects that will soon hit Pinkbike and YouTube. Keep up with all the news on the official facebook page ! You can watch and subscribe our 1 milion views YouTube channel !