Source: David Peacock
Hey Pinkbikers! With the buzz of film premier season fully activated, everyone seems to be awaiting the arrival of their new DVDs, or a tour stop of this fall’s releases, NWD 10: Dust and Bones and Aaron Larocque’s What’s Next?. But this year there is also a crop of masterpieces waiting to be unveiled in the spring, after a laborious winter spent in the editing and post-production stages. Headlining are Anthill’s Follow Me, and the somewhat enigmatic and mysterious Life Cycles, from Stance Films. We know the quality is of the utmost from the Stance guys, but so much of this film is shrouded in mystery. I present to you an interview aimed to shed some light on the men with the…plen
? Anyway without further ado the people behind the lenses of Stance’s piece de resistance.Hey guys! Would you like to start by introducing yourselves to the readers of PB?
R: My name is Ryan Gibb, I was born in Calgary, but I currently live in Rossland, BC.
D: Derek Frankowski is my name; I’m a prairie-duster from Regina, Saskatchewan. I’ve been a bike photographer for about 10 years and have spent the last 5 in Rossland B.C.
How did the two of you come together to form Stance, and subsequently create LC? Or was it the other way around?
R: We came up with a idea for LC long before we ever formed a company together. Actually we've changed the name of our company a number of times. At the very first we called ourselves "Blue Plant Productions", but this is a name frequently used. Then one night while watching a Kung Fu movie, Frankowski came up with the name "Sticky Water Films" named after a Kung Fu move, but people were confusing us with a porn company, so we finally settled on "Stance Films".
D: While shooting photos with Hunter in the Loops, Gibb was shooting Suspect, we began to talk from there. Has Suspect and the work you did together there influenced this project at all, or do you view it as a total departure from your previous efforts?
R: Suspect was the very first thing I ever shot or edited. I had zero experience, all I knew was that 16mm was good so I got a camera and that a lot of people edited on Final Cut Pro. The rest I figured out as I made the movie. The only way Suspect really had an influence on LC is that I learned that I could make a movie, it gave me desire to do better, and I met Frankowski as he was a photographer on some of my major shoots. Suspect very much follows the action sport's movie formula and I feel that Life Cycles is a departure from that formula.
D: I wasn’t a part of Suspect besides shooting stills with Gibb a bit. Life Cycles is a clean slate for sure.What have been your main creative influences thus far?
R: We take our influences from so many things; I know music is a huge influence on me, I come up with a lot of my ideas as I listen to music. As far a movies go, I'm all over the place. Anywhere from Hollywood movies, to films like Baraka. The Planet Earth series has been a huge help. One of our very first ideas for the movie was to do a section where the seasons changed during the shot, years later it was "Planet Earth" that showed us how to technically pull that off.
D: I watched Baraka
in 2000 and it changed the way I thought of film. It sparked an interest in film that grew. I began searching out more quality films and found Winged Migration, Deep Blue and Planet Earth. I really appreciate the time they must have put into those films to get that footage. (For Derek) Coming from shooting stills, does it seem to you like there is more pressure on you to get the shot when you’re on video, shooting for a movie?
D: No, I wouldn’t say so; I don’t feel more pressure. But I do really want to make sure that when we shoot we are framing it as thoughtfully as I do when I shoot photos. Trying to think of framing more like a photo.How many other people are involved in the project, from riders to Sherpas to extra cinematographers?
R: There are about 8 riders we are working with. We have an assistant Andre “Eduardo” Nutini who
has been there since day one and is solid for helping create shots (www.andrenutini.com
expect more from him in the upcoming years, Mitchell Scott is writing the voice over, Graham Tracey
is our Narrator, and the talented Anders Peterson and Markus Nurmi have been filming a behind the
scenes on us.
D: We’ve also got Ambrose (ambroseweingart.com
) on a shoot to help with some cable cam shots we wanted. Was cool to work with him as it was the first time we had another person involved in the shooting and it went really well.You’ve managed to tessellate a pretty diverse crew of riders, was compiling the list of people you wanted to feature a pretty major task?
R: We’ve been very selective about who we have chosen as our riders. Every rider in the movie is there for a specific reason and there is something about their riding style that we want to highlight. We want the movie to feel balanced, we don’t want too much of one aspect of riding. I hate watching a movie and seeing 6 different guys all doing tailwhips, it starts to get old quick.
D: We have been fortunate to work with riders that we enjoy hanging with and working with. It makes the whole experience better. We tried to keep the list pretty tight. Who are the main financial backers of the project? And was it tough for you guys to approach them with a different type of project from what they are used to supporting?
D: So far our sugar daddies are Scott and Shimano. Both have been really supportive for a film that takes longer to see fruition. Adrian at Scott and Dustin at Shimano have both gone to bat for us. We approached hundreds of brands but either we didn’t have the footage to prove our idea or the economy shut us down. We’ll be looking for quality partners right up until the film is released.
R: Shimano, Scott Bicycles, and Ourselves. This has been our greatest struggle. Since neither of us really had any previous movies we really could fall back on (Suspect doesn’t count), we had to get people to buy into our vision without anything to really show them. Thankfully Shimano and Scott did. Also we didn’t want our sponsors dictating who we shot with, we have been very adamant about maintaining full creative control, so this has also made things a little harder. All of this on top of the economy going to pot has made for a long, hard road. Another thing about the sponsors, a substantial amount of them seem to be related to the production side of things, was it a bit intimidating talking to people with no previous investment in the mountain bike arena?
D: Not really intimidating, it might have even helped. We are trying to take this film into other arenas outside the bike world and still make a film that will really appeal to the core riding scene. It’s been pretty well publicized that the film will be shot entirely on a RED ONE as well as a super slow-motion unit, how did you choose through the constantly multiplying range of cameras available today? Did you consider shooting on 16mm, as Ryan did with Suspect?
R: We almost ended up shooting this film on 16mm. Thankfully we didn’t. We actually put off shooting the movie for 6 months just so we could shoot with the Red. We choose the Red Camera because pretty much it’s the best camera we could get for our budget. The camera really is amazing for how much it cost. There are shots we’ve been able to get that we wouldn’t have been able to get on 16mm.So how long have you guys been shooting for? I know for me it’s been two years of anxiously waiting to see more footage, but what’s the total month count on the project?
R: We got our Red One back in April of 2008 so we’ve been actually shooting for just over a year and a half. It will probably be around 2 years of shooting by the time we’re done. Aside from that we’ve been scripting/fund raising for the project for the past 5 years.
D: What he said…And it seems like you guys have been rattling off shots like a crazed buffalo hunter, do you have any idea how much raw footage you have captured since the projects inception?
R: Oh man my brain is so fried right now there is no way I can calculate that. All I can tell you is that we currently have shot about 4 Terabytes of footage.
D: Not sure on the amount. We’ve had to stay so focused on the next shoot, we don’t have too much time to sit back and enjoy what we’ve done…yet.Can you give us an idea as to which of your shoots has been the most challenging, and which has been the most productive? As filmmakers, how much overlap is there between the two?
D: Being that this is my first film, I have realized that all shoots are major challenges to pull off. And I can say that we have made every shoot a productive one, it’s just a matter of how many days it takes to get it. We just got back from a shoot in Nelson the other day and we might have got 4 seconds for film. That happens a lot.
R: Pretty much every shoot is a mix of highs and lows. We are usually able to capture about 80% of the vision that we have in our heads. Things don’t always work out how you plan them and the key is adapting to that. Utah was particularly a hard shoot for us. High winds made for a challenging shoot. Do you find it more frustrating/rewarding to be GTSing out in the fields of Saskatchewan, or piecing together a banger segment in the editing room?
D: In general I am all about the shooting. But I am stoked to get editing. We haven’t edited a complete section yet, just some teaser footage.
R: The most frustrating thing about this project is doing office work when we should be out in the field shooting. Since there’s only two of us we have to wear so many different hats, it would be nice having someone in the office taking care of business while we just focused on shooting the film. I think both of us are really looking forward to the editing process.Are you pretty stoked on the footage so far? Do you feel that you’ve managed to stay true to the vision you had at the beginning?
D: As we come to a close on the shooting for the film I have to say that I am very stoked on what we’ve been able to do with the resources we have. I know that I am happy with what we have because every time it’s played someplace I like to watch it, that’s got to mean something.
R: I feel that this movie is turning into something I will be very proud of and something that I will be able to hang my hat on. We never totally capture what is in our heads but we get close and I feel we have be true to what we said we were going to do. This movie has evolved into something totally different than when we started but that is a good thing.You appear to be breaking away from the traditional “bike porn” teaser mold, why did you decide to avoid the 3-minute-edit-with-no-landings format?
D: We set out to make a movie that we’d like to see made. I have respect for any other filmmakers making films. It’s a real uphill battle. I think everyone tries to do something different, that’s what keeps the stoke, so the idea of replicating what’s been done didn’t appeal to me.
R: We didn’t want people to get burnt out on our footage, especially since we were so far away from releasing the movie. We just wanted to let people know that we are here and that we have something different for them.Can the ever-impatient mountain bike community expect anymore clips to satiate the need for some visual magic, or is the cat not even going to get a paw out of the bag?
D: With the first clips we released we tried to make people slow down a bit. It’s worked, but it’s also made people very thirsty for more. We want to show more and will.
R: Be expecting a sneak preview in the very near future.What would you say is the defining difference between what you guys are creating versus what has been done for the past 10 years?
D: Our goal is to produce a film that each shot is held at a high standard. Once the film is released you can judge whether we have succeeded.
R: We are here to tell a story. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. Everything you see in the movie has a purpose. We recently just did a night shoot in Whistler. Visually it is cool but we didn’t only do it because it looked cool but because it has purpose to our story.Working together this closely for this long, there has probably been some creative friction between the two of you, has it been trying to get this far? Can you guys still go to cocktail parties together and make peaceful conversation?
R: We work together pretty well. We respect each other’s opinion and ultimately if we can’t agree on something we do it both ways. The only time we’ve really had any friction is after a late night of partying in Quebec. Frankowski jumped in a puddle that covered me in water to which he got a full can of Monster in his back. The can was returned to me at the equal amount of velocity into the back of my leg. Then we were fine.
D: Working for years with someone is a very difficult thing. You enter into a relationship that meshes personal and business. We’ve had our issues but have been able to overcome any differences. Like throwing Monster cans at each other at point blank.Final tough question for you, have you guys wrapped up shooting? Any plans on the premier schedule yet?
R: We have about 2 more months left of shooting and then we go into post-production. I would say you can expect a release sometime late winter/early spring.
D: The golden questions. It’s one that we have been avoiding because we want to make sure the film is good. We’re close for sure. But we’re not putting anything out the door until it’s dialed in to our tastes.On that note, any people you’d like to say a shout out to or thank?
R: Just my wife Kaylee for supporting my broke butt, my parents, and our sponsors Shimano and Scott Bicycles.
D: Kari is my support for sure, we have had a lot of things happen during this process including having a baby girl, that have had her putting in a lot of energy without me. We wouldn’t have a film if it wasn’t for the riders and we work with a handful of beauties. No rider has spent more time than Hopkins hiking back up for us to shoot “one more”. And to make a film like this you also need a lot of help and I could write a list of hundreds of people (which I will for the credits). Friends and family are the reason we are able to do anything…thank you. Lifecyclesfilm.com