|The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way. |
Marcus Aurelius (opening quote of the film)
Cam Zink's career as a professional freerider is best described in superlatives: preeminent, outstanding, remarkable. But Zink's riding transcends hyperbole and the limits of any thesaurus, he's a real life superhero on a bike. Reach For The Sky is his life story, from birth to present, and it's a window into showing who Zink is, and how he became the man he is today. The story, like Zink's career, is bookended by his performance at the Red Bull Rampage. Throughout the film, we travel between biographical segments narrated by talking heads like Travis Pastrana, Brandon Semenuk, and Shaun Palmer and landmark scenes in Zink's life. Images of Cam's leg being drained of pus and blood just one day before landing his monstrous stepdown flip on the Oakley Icon Sender at Rampage 2013 will be permanently burned into my mind's eye. If Reach For The Sky has a central theme it's that Zink's career has been built on continually overcoming adversity - numerous season-ending injuries - to fulfill what he feels is his potential on a mountain bike. He's not crazy, just supremely confident and motivated.
|All of the footage from the Mammoth Flip segment was 100% original and shot by my team (Dathan Graham, Taylor Sage, Kent Johnson, Pat Wooding, and me). ESPN offered to let me use their footage, but I never even contacted them once about their footage, because I was so confident in what we had, and I knew what was shot for my specific reasons. Also, I really tried to capture the emotional weight of that feat, which he was so prepared for, making it look easy. He's flipping 100 feet at 50 mph, so if he under or over rotates, he's got a serious problem. And that's why I edited that flip scene the way I did, building to the emotional ending. |
Ryan Cleek, director
Reach For The Sky is edited non-linearly, like Pulp Fiction, and interweaves two decades of photos and videos with images captured by Ryan Cleek specifically for the movie. Cleek was producer, director, lead cinematographer, and editor (while also largely self financing the film to bring his project to fruition
). It's remarkable what he's accomplished given that this is just his second feature (his first was 2005's Downhill Speed
) and that for most of the production schedule he was working a full time desk job for Specialized, shooting for the Zink project on his weekends and vacation days. (I expect he'll be busy with video offers in 2016
Cleek's friendship with Zink has allowed him a unique fly on the wall perspective which we rarely get to see at events like Rampage and there are moments while watching the movie where you feel scared for Zink even though you know he'll survive unscathed. Zink's wife Amanda is featured at pivotal moments and her stress while watching him ride is visceral through the screen. The movie ends at Red Bull Rampage 2014 with Zink stomping one of the largest 360 drops ever done; we then get a list of Zink's feats during the production of the movie: world's biggest step-down backflip, world's biggest 360 drop, Guinness World Record longest bicycle straight air, Guinness World Record longest backflip, three-time Rampage best trick winner, and most Red Bull Rampage podiums. It's wonderful to see that mountain biking as a sport has reached a point where we have the history, characters, and filmmakers willing to tell real stories.
Last year's excellent Steve Peat documentary Won't Back Down
and now Reach For The Sky
are tributes to Peaty and Zink, they are love letters to the sport, and they are essential viewing for anyone wishing to educate themselves on mountain bike history. Reach For The Sky
is a both a career spanning retrospective and an inside look at a year in the life of one of the greatest action sport heroes in the world. It's a reminder of everything that Zink has accomplished on two wheels, and the best part is - he's not done yet.
Reach For The Sky Website