Photos by Redfern Media
Initially, the production team behind Reverence Movie
weren't comfortable with the segment that Matt MacDuff wanted to tackle for the film. Especially since it had only been a year since his near-fatal crash on the 40 ft. Loop of Doom in South Africa. But when Matt said he was going to attempt the world's first double flip out of a half loop regardless of whether it showed up in the film or not, they decided to support him.
Here are two first-person accounts that describe how Matt's segment came to life, written by Producer Ryan Berrecloth & Matt MacDuff himself. RYAN’S VERSION
Those were the first words to come out of my mouth when Matt told me over the phone what he had in mind for his part in the film. Following this conversation in fall 2017, I called Darren to let him know what Matt wanted to do for his part… exact same two words came out of his mouth. We were excited to have Matt interested in the film, but we had something different in mind. After discussion between Darren and I, we decided to let Matt know we were still very excited to have him in the film, but we didn’t feel comfortable with what he wanted to tackle.
I got to know Matt while we were making “Builder” which released in 2015. For those who don’t know Matt personally, or have not had the pleasure to meet him, he’s an amazing person. Humble, intelligent and loves life. His energy is infectious and his stoke is real. During the last phone call, Matt and I agreed to park his crazy idea to buy some time to think about it, and for discussion with the production team.
The original script we wrote for Matt was simple. It had been a year since his near-fatal crash attempting to blow the world away with his 40 ft. loop in South Africa. If you don’t know about the attempt, you won’t need to go far to see some images that almost put Matt six feet under. A year later with some intense rehab, he had just started riding his bike again. During our first conversation, I told him we didn’t want to focus on the loop crash. “Thank you” was his response as understandably that’s what most media wanted to cover at the time. The script we wrote for Matt was to dive into his fear of riding his bike again after coming back from such a significant trauma. We wanted to get insight into what his thought process was to push through his fear simply to ride and start on the journey of rebuilding himself. First time bunny hopping again, cracking a tail whip or simply dropping in.
A big focus for Darren and I making the film was to present an original script to the athletes we wanted to work with, then let them adjust the storyline to what they were passionate about. We set ourselves up to be agile with all athletes so we could tell their story linked to the underlying storyline of fear. Matt was the only athlete we pushed back on because his idea was crazy. A world's first double flip out of a half loop just over a year after mangling himself… did we want to set the table for him to put himself in a position to be seriously injured again? He’s a bro, not to mention the responsibility of being a filmmaker to do what we can keep our friends and partner athletes safe.
Matt and I got back on the phone to see if I could move him towards the original story we had put down on paper. Try to persuade him from the double flip. Not because we didn’t want him to achieve his goals, but because we wanted to keep him safe, and during prior discussions, we didn’t understand Matt as well as we do now. What I failed to remember at the time was how calculated Matt is when he sets his mind to something. He talks about it in the film where he breaks down the success percentage and makes decisions based on his calculations. He shared with me during our first conversation that since his big crash he had academically been studying fear by reading as much as he could on the topic. This combined with learnings from the big crash was giving him the confidence to be the first rider in the world to land a half loop double flip. At one point during our follow up conversation he said, “I’m doing it with or without you guys.” My thought process then turned from fearing the worst to playing our part to supporting him on his goal.
A few months later Matt accompanied by his trusted builder and friend Marshall we’re on a flight out to Vancouver Island to stay at Darren’s for a couple of weeks. After scoping a few locations Darren figured the best spot to set up the half loop was in his yard. When I asked Darren about his thoughts on a start ramp, he looked at me like I had two heads and simply said, “we will build it off the roof of the garage.” So that’s what they did. Some machine work to get the landing sorted and the stage was set for Matt and Marshall to construct the loop.
During the weeks prior to coming out, Matt spent some time at the Joyride Bike Park in Toronto. The footage didn’t make the movie, so we put it in the extra feature above.
Following Matt spending some time at Joyride working on the move we wanted to give him an opportunity for more practice closer to go time, so Darren lined up an airbag at a location close to his place. After the ramp was built, they guys trucked it over to the bag and set it up to get some practice in. This part is documented in the film and we’re stoked how it worked out because it shows the events that proceeded the day he threw down on dirt. One thing that we were super appreciative of through the film was the athletes opening to share their thoughts on the topic of fear and specifically to what they were doing for the film. Matt was no exception and we got to see the raw and rugged experience he put himself through to make history.
We’ve seen the scenes many times through the process of making the film and the emotion Matt shows the audience is super humbling and amazing to see. We’re honored to have been part of the process and can’t wait to see what Matt has up his sleeve next.
But of course, this is the story from the production side. The full story of how the double flip came to pass started way before Reverence was even conceived….MATT’S VERSION
The Double flip open came to me about 6 years ago. I had begun to explore open loops, drawing from some crazy photos that I came across online. The photo was this amazing shot of a dude in a tux flying upside down about 12 feet off the ground, in front of a small crowd about 110 years ago. It blew my mind; how could this be real? It had to be fake??!!?? Upon more research, I learned in fact this photo was real. Two famous Italian brothers developed the act to compete with the infamous Divalo act that came about around the turn of the 1900 century.
Odd that we worked on the double flip for Reverence as 4 years earlier, The Claw made this sketchy open loop lip into the Highland foam pit in 2014. I traveled down to ride it and was able to throw some double flips into the foam. I knew I could land it, but... If things didn't go right, I learned very quickly they could go very wrong! A couple of weeks later I found myself riding at Steven Murray's house (legend Dirt BMXER who paralyzed himself doing double flips). Having this trick on my mind, I knew putting it down on dirt would throw me into a whole new realm of risk.
My builder seggy came up in 2015 and I had built two open loops back to back like a set of jumps (one wood, one dirt). My plan was to bar spin the first and double flip the second. I must have spun the bars on the first like 10 times and choked the double flip every time... The moment was so high stress I broke down into tears and yelled, "I'm not ready to lose my legs." I knew my chances of pulling the trick where like 60% and I wasn't ready to risk the slam. I was wrecked.
I knew I needed more resources to land the trick safely... But unfortunately, I didn't have access to them at the time, so the trick went on the back burner.
Fast forward to 2016 when I crashed the loop (the biggest failure of my life). It was looking like I was never riding again. So when Ryan and Darren came to me 1 1/2 years later and I was in the position (mentally and physically) to potentially pull this off... I knew this was the final exam, the drilling last nail in the coffin to my recovery and that very hard two years of my life.
If I could land this trick, I could do anything. That was my mindset.
It was the ultimate test for me at the time. This is something I couldn't do before I crashed the full loop... So if I could do it after the hell I'd been through, I knew it would build my confidence and an unstoppable momentum that I could use moving forward to obtain new goals and dreams.
Moving forward that's what this trick was about. I expected to face some of my deepest fears, but I wasn't about top let that stop me. So, I prepared my self mentally and physically. It was time to evolve.
Moving forward we picked dates, and I was able to pull all my resources together from Joyride 150 with my best friend Marshall. He was a massive help to me during this project because I was sick as a dog when I flew to Darren’s. I had to take it easy if I wanted to pull it off. Marshall stepped up and built the set up while I tried to heal myself. Lucky for me we had a weather delay, so I had a couple of extra days and that brought me back to 100%.
Once we pulled the airbag out, and I was pulling them constantly, it was game on. I had put in the work and it was time to execute.
The next day we built the setup. It took about six hours to get it dialled and I had about three hours to land the trick. I was sick, I wanted to throw up. Everything in my body was saying, "No... you're going to die.” But I had to dig deep and look beyond that. The facts were clear, if tried I would probably land it. I pushed through and trusted my hard work and process. I had to tell my self that the feelings I am having in this moment are not valid.
I went for it, crashed eleven times and on the next attempt I rolled away.
Available in 4K at http://geni.us/Reverence