It was in the back of a pickup truck that Michalis found I was a filmmaker and pitched me the idea for an edit. We had met once before in the same truck, both practicing for a downhill race. He was telling me that he wants to make a video edit, I didn’t pay much attention at the time, I was a bit hungry. Nevertheless, when I gave it a second thought, I had been looking to shoot a project like this, and when he was telling more about his idea, I knew it was the perfect fit for me. For a couple of months, we spoke and tried to figure out the details of the edit and the date which would work. Before I knew it, I was 3 hours away from home in a small village named Achladi - Michalis’s home town. We started filming right next morning.
The thing that surprised me the most about the riding scene in Achladi… is that there isn’t any. The only rider, builder and sender there is Michalis. He built these trails from start to finish, countless hours of individual work put into. He would go to dig whenever he could after work, shaping the rocky, difficult and dangerous terrain. His determination is on another level. The trails he builds are loose, slippery and sketchy to say the least.
Full of jumps and drops, off camber sections, and rock gardens that gave me goosebumps. So unusual that some of the best riders in Greece call it a death trap instead of a trail. But while shooting there, I discovered that these trails are made to fit Michalis’s riding style. The way he rode his trails felt natural and unsettling at the same time.
The days went by and we had nearly finished shooting. This is when I asked him the question: “Why are you so passionate about shooting this film?” He smiled and told me that he wanted to share his passion for riding his special creations and the risk involved with a wider audience than just himself and some of his friends. If this video would inspire someone to get out of their home and build something straight from their imagination, let go and do what makes them happy, then the goal of the film would be a success.
Soon the filming had finished and I sat on the same bus that I had taken to get to Achladi. Although Michalis and I had some intense moments while shooting, it ended up in a great friendship that I really appreciate and, hopefully, a great film. While the actual film is quite short, the story behind shooting it was unforgettable, and I hope it will put a smile on Michalis’s face by inspiring more people to go out and do what they love.