Video: Episode 2 of Anthill's 'In the Blink' - On Creativity with Brett Rheeder

Mar 11, 2019 at 10:33
by Anthill Films  

Photos by Sterling Lorence

One of the ways a mountain biker can freely express themselves is to draw their own lines on the landscape, much like the stroke of a paintbrush on canvas. When Brett Rheeder recently traveled to Bigwater, Utah for the Creativity segment of Return to Earth, he brought his own artistic interpretation to the terrain.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

Utah has long been a staple backdrop of mountain bike films. The barren yet colourful landscape features shapeable dirt and near-endless line choices that allow riders a creative freedom seen in few parts of the world. Despite winning Red Bull Rampage earlier in the year, Rheeder had yet to add a Utah film segment to his resume. So with a crew of six filmers, four diggers, one photographer and an excavator, we set out to help Brett put his own artistic stamp on the coveted Utah desert.

“Something we really wanted to do with Rheeder was to approach this segment with all the resources possible; the excavator, water truck and a big digging crew,” says Anthill director Darcy Wittenburg. “That way we really wouldn’t be limited by anything other than our own imaginations.”

Switching between his downhill and slopestyle bikes, Rheeder rode a medley of lines he and the dig team (Matt Macduff, Ben Byers, Dustin Gilding and Austin Davignon) had constructed. It was here he found his creative muse, where distractions faded and all focus was on the moment.

We pulled Rheeder aside recently while filming Return to Earth in Hawaii to get his insights on his time in Utah, the stress and rewards of competition and finding flow in the creative process.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019
Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

On filming in Utah...
bigquotesOne of the biggest mountain bike contests (Red Bull Rampage) is based in Utah. The landscape has endless possibilities for building mountain biking features. That’s why everyone goes there, the dirt is like shoveling snow and there’s a lot of natural hits and jumps that are already present. Not only did we have that good terrain to use, but we were able to use an excavator, which no one has really done before in the Utah desert. The amount of dirt the excavator could move meant I was able to do a lot more with the lower parts of the mountain.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

On pushing his limits…
bigquotesIf you’re doing new tricks, progressing your riding and the sport, you have a good chance to bring those tricks to a contest and winning those contests. Or filming a segment and doing a trick that no one has ever seen. That being said, on the filming versus contests... It’s cool to watch a film. It pumps you up and gets you psyched when you watch a good video. But who knows how many times it took that guy to nail that trick for the film segment? In a contest, you have to be on it and do it all on your first go. Not only on your first go but followed by every other single one of your other best tricks and it has to be perfect.

For me, I know that I’m going to show up to the contest, I know I’m going to have to do my hardest tricks on features that I maybe don’t like. So when I’m back home, practising or riding at a friend’s house, the thought is always to try to go out of my comfort zone and trying a trick on a feature on a certain jump I’m not comfortable with. If you scared yourself at home or on the local dirt jumps and you pushed yourself and you succeeded… then you show up to a contest you’re faced with the same predicament that you’ve already been in. But if you do that all the time non-stop, it also gets tiring. You want to live a normal life sometimes.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019
Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019
Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

On peeling back distraction...
bigquotesEveryone has times when they’re down or don’t feel like doing anything and feel sorry for themselves. I found that the only way to feel amazing again is to literally put everything down, grab my bike and go for a ride. Whenever I do that, I get into the flow state. Just getting into the rhythm of what I’m doing, whether that’s riding laps at Silverstar Bike Park and just forgetting about everything or if I’m doing laps in my backyard, walking up to the top of the jumps, catching my breath and dropping back in. It’s all the same feeling. It makes you forget about everything that’s going on in your head and find the fullest enjoyment in it.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

On Returning to Earth...
bigquotesI’ve had many ‘Return to Earth’ moments on this film shoot. It’s normally when I’m building; like when I was up there on the ridge in Utah, right below this massive 200 or 300-foot cliff looking out over the desert floor. No phone. No music. Just me and a shovel taking in what’s going on around me and how beautiful the surroundings are. Here in Hawaii, it’s been when we’re waiting to drop in for a shot. Again, no phone, no music, just Rheed (Boggs) and I up on a ridge overlooking the island and the ocean. It’s pretty awesome just to take it in.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019

bigquotesThe film (RTE) has reminded me to do that. I’m on my phone so much… Sure, I look out over the view and all that, but I was never consciously thinking ‘ahhh… now I’m returning to earth.’ I think of it now as I’m overlooking something epic or looking at my surroundings in the middle of the forest. I think it’s a friendly reminder. In 2019 we have to promote things through social media and the internet. It slightly goes against what the film is, but how else are we going to push this thing in front of people? Put a laptop in the forest and hopefully, someone stumbles across it? The message is strong. It’s powerful. I hope it will encourage people to get out and ride their bikes ultimately. When you do that, you realize how beautiful it is to be in nature and to be doing exactly what you want to be doing; that’s when people will take a breath, look around and just soak up how amazing “Earth” is.



Brett Rheeder fully clicked off a natural rock quarter lit by overhead drone strobe during the filming of his segment in Big Water Utah for Return to Earth by Anthill Films.

On Sterling Lorence’s “Drone Strobe” shot, currently in the running for Pinkbike Photo of the Year:

bigquotesThis has been one of the most rewarding photos I’ve ever been a part of. It was cool to see how long Sterl took to plan and come up with that shot. I found the rock line pretty early in the shoot. And then Sterl spent 3-4 days just studying it. Every night he’d stay late and would come back to the house and show me what he wanted to do until he had it figured out. There was a very tight window to actually get the shot when the light was just right so everything had to be planned out perfectly. I’ve never been a part of a photo shoot that took so long and required so much attention to detail. To see it all come together in that one split-second you see in the photo was a really rewarding experience.

Views: 3,505    Faves: 11    Comments: 3



In the Blink is a six-part web series that dives behind the scenes of our upcoming feature film Return to Earth. Stay tuned for Episode 3: "Fun” featuring some of the sport’s youngest shredders in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

Watch Episode 1 "Fall Colours" with Thomas Vanderham and Ryan Howard.


Return to Earth. Summer 2019.
Brought to you by Shimano and Trek Bicycles featuring Brett Rheeder, Brandon Semenuk, Casey Brown, Reed Boggs, Matt Hunter, Thomas Vanderham, Ryan Howard, Joey Schusler, Thomas Genon, Emil Johansson, Tahnee Seagrave, Koas Seagrave, Kade Edwards, Jackson Goldstone, Jakob Jewett and Dane Jewett in association with Pinkbike, Trail Forks, Evoc, Clif Bar, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Sony and Freehub Magazine and additional support from Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Spawn Cycles, Arosa Lenzerheide. A new film by Anthill Films with art direction and creative by Good Fortune Collective.

Sterling Lorence Photo Creativity segment Return to Earth an Anthill Films Production Summer 2019


MENTIONS: @anthill



24 Comments

  • + 47
 Seeing a digger machine in such a wild place, makes me feel bad. The riding will be sick for sure, is that necessary to do stuff like that?
  • + 30
 It's something we are super conscious of and one of the reasons that specific location was chosen - a highly trafficked area vs. untouched landscape.
  • + 6
 smartfartbart- This is pretty far from being an untouched, wild place. This is really cool to see and it'll give more riders a reason to head down there to explore this and the other incredible spots in the area like the hoodoos and The Wave... if you're lucky enough to obtain a permit of course! What an ambitious project.
  • + 2
 @scott-townes: @anthill Hey guys, thanks for the clarification. I Don't know the location, but for me, this was looking like the other side of the Moon. Didn't know this area is not that remote, and bunch of persons are getting there. Cheers!
  • + 10
 Seasons and Roam are still up there as the best films ever can’t wait for the new one.
  • + 9
 Next rider will bring an earth mover and three backhoes. Not a great video for the sport. Like others something just looked wrong in that video.
  • + 5
 So stoked to see people absolutely destroying the natural gorgeous hills that us locals have grown up riding. Some people such as myself are obsessed with riding this natural terrain in the way it was supposed to be, natural. Tractors?? Come on people...
  • + 4
 "Some people such as myself are obsessed with riding this natural terrain in the way it was supposed to be, natural."

And yet there are multiple shots in your profile riding some of the many jumps that exist at the old Rampage site with big, built-up takeoffs and even bigger raked out and built up landings- pretty far from "natural". There's also another line you're riding that was built up with dozens of sandbags and a lot of other man-made work done to it to make it ride-able. I'm not trying to be a dick but I have to point out that you're being a massive hypocrite in your criticisms.

The jumps in this video were built lower on the flats using the hills only as a run-in, exactly like the jumps you enjoy hitting down south. Its a pretty big stretch to say they're "absolutely destroying the natural gorgeous hills".
  • + 1
 Do you have any idea how much time was spend in the digger? No. Also as @scott-townes pointed out, your hypocrisy is unwarranted
  • + 1
 @scott-townes: Virgin and big water are two completely different places. Comparing them points out how out of touch you are with the Utah desert. Y’all are f*ckin tards
  • + 1
 @djbailey: Please, educate us.
  • + 6
 Can someone please explain how you can dig the **** out of Utah, but places like Marin are trying to get rid of MTB's ?
  • + 9
 because California hates freedom
  • + 0
 you can dig on BLM land, but as someone who's faced charges twice for digging in Utah, I can tell you BLM land is not always that obvious. I once dug on a natural monument apparently with no signs anywhere and then the BLM falsified the court documents and extorted me for money. So pretty much as long as you're for sure you're on BLM land, you can almost do whatever you want.
  • + 3
 @better-handle-than-pinkbike: I am, it's called asking parties who may know as they are interested in mtb.
  • + 2
 @angrynipples: what type of charges did you get for diggin on the not blm stuff? Our sport is sorta built on unsanctioned trails so I always wonder what the repercussions could be.
  • + 1
 @mustbike: I paid a $600 to the BLM instead of fighting it in court. And another time in Salt Lake, a Home Owners Association was pushing for felonies for building a hip on a popular mountain bike trail that already has a ton of jumps and features. Agreement with the city and the HOA said the canyon was designated for mountain biking, so we built a 40' hip and the HOA lost their shit and would call the police on us day after day. Police told us to take it down because they were tired of the HOA badgering them, so they didn't press any charges
  • + 1
 Film segments have already given local authorities to hate on mountain bikes riding in that location and now you bring in tractors? Keep your machines in private land and off public land.
  • + 1
 Man.. I just love his style. I wish I could ride like himSmile I cant wait to see this video to come out.
  • + 1
 I was wondering how they got that shot lit. Super cool idea to have a drone mounted flash!
  • + 1
 Thanks for releasing these episodes in the off season, its helping to keep my stoke levels high!
  • + 1
 Pumped for this film.
  • - 1
 4/20 camel toe
so juvenile but made me laugh
  • - 1
 I think it's time for Hayduke and the Monkey Wrench gang to get to work.

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