This time of year always tends to bring about Top 10 lists of one sort or another from your favourite websites: best album, best movie, best book, etc. On that note, I wanted to share a little bit about some of my favourite projects that I was a part of. 2017 was the first year I didn’t have school to contend with, so it was the first year I’ve truly been able to pursue filmmaking full-time, without distraction. I’m super grateful to all the athletes that I got to work with and the companies that helped make it all happen. With that being said, here are my ten favourite projects of the year, and a few behind the scenes anecdotes for ya. Enjoy!
Mike Hopkins - DreamRide 2
The first DreamRide sprang out of Hopkins and Lacy Kemp's desire to make a bike version of Dr. Seuss's ''Oh The Places You'll Go.'' Unfortunately, that was too expensive to license for the voiceover so we had to come up with our own version of it. DreamRide earned us a Vimeo Staff Pick and so Hopkins got the crew back together for a sequel. We (Jordan Manley, David Peacock, and I) shot this over the course of five weeks in January and February and I edited it in three hellish weeks for a March release. The summer portion was shot in Hawaii and the biggest highlights for me were definitely working with Jordan Manley, the mind behind ''A Skier's Journey,'' and eating massive burritos at Lucy's after shooting all day. The winter portion of the film tested Hopkins' toughness as he had to endure -15c weather in a t-shirt and shorts in the name of maintaining continuity. Huge shout out to David Peacock for shredding on skis while filming Hopkins ride powder. I'm also happy to note that the shot at 3:19 was done by me while wearing ice skates. Does it get any more Canadian that that? The most difficult part of this project came down to editing five weeks and 6TB of footage into a five minute film. There was so much great footage to choose from that it made editing the piece a real struggle. Finally, huge thanks to Juicy Studios (Scotty Carlson) and Traharn Chidley (Mike's girlfriend) for their hard work on the project/maintaining our sanity.
Kerry Werner - Cross / Roads
I had never filmed cyclocross before this project and honestly considered it fairly nerdy. Watching Kerry ride was eye-opening though - the dude rips! This was a major highlight of my summer as I had the opportunity to work with the legend Alex ''Axel'' Fostvedt, the main cinematographer for the entire New World Disorder series. I can't count the number of hours I've spent watching NWD movies and Axel's imagery was a big part of what made those films so great. He is an absolute master at showcasing the key action in every scene. I know they say don't meet your heroes, but Axel is a beauty. I'm hoping we can shoot more together soon. I'd also be remiss not to mention the amazing editing by Kona's in-house filmmaker Joonas Vinnari, and Caleb Smith for shooting photos and directing the film.
Dean Tennant - Days Gone By
This project is one of my favourite things I filmed all year. To me, it sums up the beauty of Vancouver Island and it's also a nice reminder of my friendship with Dean Tennant. Dean has been one of my best friends and riding buddies for years, and these are the trails we rode regularly when I lived in Victoria. Dean's never had a sponsor pay for our projects together so they've always been labours of love, with no schedule or direction other than what we decide on. We shoot these videos at our own pace, over weeks and months, and release them when we're happy. This edit reminds me of why I started filming mountain biking in the first place - it's just fun shooting bikes in the woods with your friends, trash talking until the sun sets.
Kenny Smith - Hypersonic Blur
I was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and lived there until packing up and moving to Squamish back in May of this year. This video is special to me because it was one of the first things I shot after moving and it captures what I love about my new town. Just look at those trails! My suite is about 15 minutes from the bottom of Hoods In The Woods (one of the tracks we filmed) and it blows my mind how fun these trails are. I’m lucky enough to get to travel and film in some beautiful places, but in the back of my mind I always know Squamish is better… don’t tell your friends.
Sid Slotegraaf - Unfinished Business
Sid and I have filmed a few projects over the years, but this was by far the most intense. Sid’s crash on the mega step-down was possibly the worst wreck I’ve ever seen in person. After it happened, he drove back into town, built up a new wheel, and prepared to send it again. He did a few more run ups but eventually decided the risk wasn’t worth the reward. He moved to Ontario the next day to take over his parents chicken farm. Will this be his last edit? If it is, then hopefully he can be proud he left on a high note. Thanks for the opportunity, Sid. Also, huge shout out to Kevin Landry for producing this video and slaying it on the builds with Sid. The ladder bridge to drop over the river is one of the most visually stunning features I’ve ever filmed.
Mike Hopkins - Skidsville
Mike Hopkins and Scotty Carlson (aka Juicy Studios) wanted to showcase how many - hopefully all of you readers - fell in love with bikes. Our inspiration was basically The Goonies, by way of Stand By Me, and Stranger Things. We wanted a video which could have taken place in the 70s or 80s, before smartphones or helmets; pure nostalgia for viewers. This proved more difficult than anticipated as we needed to track down costumes, retro bicycles, and children who could act. Turns out, this whole commercial thing is much more of a logistical nightmare than a standard web edit. I was booked to film for one week, but this quickly turned into two, then nearly three weeks! By the end, I spent 19 days working on this sucker. Ironically, much of it was spent editing other projects at the Alpine Grind cafe in Rossland, while Hopkins tried to track down props and kids. Thankfully David Peacock and Derek Frankowski were able to film additional days for this project after I left. This was very much a team effort and I'm super stoked with how it all turned out.
Brook Macdonald - Bulldog & The Pups
This video was a really cool case of childhood dreams being realized. Ashley, Sombrio’s marketing extraordinaire, had asked the Spawn Super Groms who their favourite rider was. They picked The Bulldog, Brook Macdonald. A couple emails and several flights later, and Brook was at Coast Gravity Park to ride with the boys. This was two days after the Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup and I’m sure Brook was exhausted, but you couldn’t tell watching him ride with the crew. The kids were stoked, leading Brook through the jumps, but the physics didn’t quite add up on the first few attempts. The kids were half Brook’s weight, allowing them to clear the jumps going far slower than Brook needed to land cleanly. He kept casing! Eventually we figured out spacing so that he could keep the speed he needed and I could get the shots. Due to the logistics of getting Brook to the Coast I ended up shooting this whole video in about four hours, which is super rushed for me. It certainly helps when you have athletes this talented. The future looks bright.
Brendan Howey - 10 Year
I learned almost everything I know about filmmaking from MindSpark Cinema's Aaron LaRocque. ''Larock'' moved to Victoria when I was 16, and began producing some of the first ever VOD's seen on Pinkbike, back in 2008. Eventually, I became friends with him and he was kind enough to teach me the basics of Final Cut Pro 7 and his general principles of editing: ''don't use dissolves/effects to transition between shots. Hard cuts are good.'' It's served me well ever since. I helped Aaron a little bit on his Island Winter films, building some of the stunts you see Howey ride in those videos. I've wanted to work with Howey ever since. He's a good friend and has great style on the bike, so I was pumped that we could finally make it happen in conjunction with his 10th year aboard a Commencal. I wanted to use the intro of this film to show some of Howey's best clips from the past decade, and highlight just how long he's been with the brand. Most importantly, we wanted to deliver a video that was fun to watch and featured some classic Howey style. He's still baby faced, but man he's good on a bike. Hopefully this edit was a good continuation of Larock and Howey's film legacy.
Thomas Vanderham - The Escape Artist
I’ve been a fan of Thomas Vanderham since I first saw him ride in The Collective, back when I was 12 years old. To me, he’s always epitomized style on a bike. This project was my first time working with Thomas and it was a little hard to suppress my inner fanboy - I mean I had posters of this guy on my bedroom wall in high school. For this project Vanderham, Brandon Watts (editor of Freehub), and myself brainstormed for unique ideas and Thomas suggested trying to visually show how one daydreams about riding while stuck in traffic. The only thing we didn't consider was how inconsistent trains are when you don't know their schedule. We spent hours waiting for trains to pass and barely managed to capture enough footage to sell the concept. I think it worked out pretty well, all things considered. As an aside, I can't say enough good things about the riding in Revelstoke, BC. The trails shown in the video are just a small number of the vast network in Revy. If you have the means, I highly suggest checking it out. Also, be sure to eat at the Taco Club and the Village Idiot when you're in town since they're delish.
Wade Simmons' Pipedream
Wade Simmons is another childhood hero of mine. New World Disorder 3 was the first mountain bike movie I ever saw, and Wade’s legendary Marzocchi truck gap is likely ground zero for my love of bike films. I watched that segment so many times that my VHS copy started to wear out. For this film Stephen Matthews (Rocky's brand manager) wanted to showcase Rocky's deep ties to the history of freeride and also promote Darcy Turenne's new documentary, The Moment. We came up with a (hopefully) comedic concept that was basically an excuse for Rocky's legendary ''Al The Welder'' to build a custom frame for Simmons. Filming Al working in Rocky's in-house shop was incredible. It felt like a real life episode of How It's Made. If you look closely you'll notice an effort was made to achieve historical accuracy, Simmons is actually wearing his old Roach pants from his Ride to the Hills days when he visits the Rocky office. 43 years old and still better than the kids. He's definitely not totally washed. Side note: this video had one of the craziest timelines of any project I've ever worked on. Between designing, building, and painting the bike, the clock ticked down toward a December 7th video release date. I filmed the intro, but had to wait to shoot the riding until December 4th and 5th (my 26th birthday) and then deliver the completed video to Rocky on the 6th! Thanks to a sleepless night of editing and an incredibly fast mix and sound design courtesy of Keith White Audio, we made it happen. Stoked with how it turned out.
Huge thank you to all the athletes I've worked with, the trail builders who sculpt these tracks, the sponsors who make these projects possible, and everyone who's watched my work! Can't wait for 2018.