Unearthing Seasons: A 10 Year Retrospective

Jun 28, 2018 at 9:59
by Anthill Films  


From atop a dusty gear room shelf, a box full of memories sends a curious writer down the rabbit hole to The Collective’s third and final film.

“Here, take a look at these,” says Darren as he hands me two flat computer hardware boxes. They feel heavier than I expected. “We should probably get this stuff back to Shandro, it’s been here for about 10 years.”

Darren McCullough is a cinematographer and the head of post-production here at Anthill Films, where I started my new job about six months ago. And while looking to new projects is the only way forward for a film studio like Anthill, I’ve found that looking back on their past work is one of my job’s most rewarding perks. Like opening this box…

Shandro s box of clips
Photos by Vince Shuley
Roam Bike


I lift the lid to discover a pile of old mountain bike magazines, some that publish to this day, most that have long since been buried in the ever-growing cemetery of print publications. On top of the pile of magazines rests a plastic case with the words “1998 Winter X-Games. Andrew Shandro Clips” written in black sharpie. I open this case to find an oddly-shaped cassette. “Holy shit, it’s on Betamax,” I say to out loud to no one in particular, deflated that watching this footage may prove impossible without a relic analog player that lost the video format war to VHS more than 30 years ago.

Thumbing through the magazines, I find various articles from Andrew Shandro’s competitive (and later freeride) mountain biking heyday. It’s the first time I’ve read or seen many of these pages, but a couple of the images seem strangely familiar. Then I remembered. These images made a brief appearance in Shandro’s segment in Seasons, the third and final film by The Collective. For those not familiar or don’t recall, The Collective was a coalition of filmmakers, athletes and photographer Sterling Lorence that produced three mountain bike movies distinct from other media houses at the time; The Collective (2004), Roam (2006) and finally Seasons in 2008. When producer and co-founder Jamie Houssian decided to take his career in a different direction, it was the remaining members of The Collective, filmmakers Darcy Wittenburg, Darren McCullough and Colin Jones, that teamed up with executive producer Ian Dunn to form Anthill Films in 2009.

Stevie s Championship jersey
Photos by Vince Shuley
Bolex film camera

I crave more of these treasures, not wanting this nostalgic journey to end. Digging deeper I realize that that 2018 actually marks the 10 year anniversary of Seasons, the final flagship title from The Collective (full disclosure: Though I hadn’t watched it in a few years, Seasons holds a special place in my mountain bike heart and is still very much my favourite action sports movie of all time). So I’m curious to learn more, not just from the random artifacts I find lying around the office, but from the people who actually made the movie. What set it apart back in 2008? Can it still stand on its own two feet 10 years and a YouTube generation later? To get answers, I made a list of the crew and athletes who worked on Seasons (plus a few I thought might have been influenced by it in their careers) and picked up the phone. Here’s what I found out:

Behind the scenes of SEASONS by The Collective
Pondering shooting strategy in the Nicola Valley. From left: Jonathon Schramm, Jamie Houssian, Darcy Wittenburg and Darren McCullough.

bigquotesEven to this day, if someone doesn’t know anything about mountain biking, I figure Seasons is still the best thing to have them watch. You cross the whole gamut of disciplines, you’re telling a story and you can get through the whole 60 minutes of the film without too much of one thing.Cam McCaul

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“We thought the ‘seasons’ angle was a cool theme to take the viewer through and that it would create some unique visual opportunities,” says Houssian, who heralds Seasons as the proudest work of his film-making years. “I think what helped us do some innovative things back then was to look outside the action sports film world a little bit. At the time that world was pretty narrow, so we looked to a lot of other sources of inspiration outside of the action sports bubble, whether it was TV commercials, music videos, stuff like that.”

Seasons BTS

Seasons BTS

bigquotes“Seasons was a touchstone for me. It made me proud to be a mountain biker because there was a lot more story now being portrayed and it allowed me to see this different side of the sport. It wasn’t this YouTube society back then, we weren’t watching segments and mini-documentaries and being bombarded with them every day. When I did decide to get into film, Seasons was a reference point to what I would pursue later onDarcy Hennessy Turenne

Slopestyle training

bigquotesBack then (those shots) were what we called ‘manned cable cams.' It was basically me suspended in a hang gliding harness holding the camera.Darcy Wittenburg, Director

Seasons BTS
Seasons BTS

Thomas Vanderham, Steve Peat, Matt Hunter, Cam McCaul, Andrew Shandro, Darren Berrecloth and then-grom Stevie Smith. Rather than the usual laundry list of exotic locations and rad segments, The Collective followed these athletes throughout the winter, spring summer and fall of 2007. In their homes, on the competitive circuit and over months-long field projects. It gave a deeper insight into the lives of these riders; their stages of training, competing, celebrating (or in some cases, failing) and the simple act of riding for themselves. And while the action depicted a lot of that, it was the on-camera interviews where I felt more connected with these professional mountain bikers than ever before. Remember, this is years before you could follow them all on Instagram.

bigquotesThe script and layout was always a loose boundary. They let cool things happen naturally. You didn’t have to act and pretend to be someone else or another character that’d fit into their film’s structure. They honestly documented what was real, if something funny or unfortunate happened, it made it into the film. I have a tonne of respect for that, especially now having worked with so many different crews.Cam McCaul

Seasons Nicola Valley

Seasons Nicola Valley

thomas vanderham section of SEASONS by the collective

bigquotesI think in all three Collective films, there is a gradual evolution to being more documentarian without giving up the need for elements of pure shred stoke. Documentary films always have the power to engage people more when done well and they create more of a timestamp. There are so many cool and interesting moments happen in the filming process that don't make it into a project. The life of all this was worth expressing and I think that was the motivator to show more of a ‘year in the life’ approach.Sterling Lorence

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“Part of my goal (during filming for Seasons) was to explore my own limits in terms of the size of jumps I was attempting,” recalls Vanderham. “Of all the jumps I hit in that segment, that one (where I ran out of gears) was the first. I remember cranking through all my gears and then taking one more pedal on the way in and there was nothing there. I cleared it, but at that point I went home and threw on a couple extra teeth on the front chainring.”
For the record, the shot that made the film clocked him at 78 kilometers per hour on the run-in.

Seasons Kamloops

Seasons BTS

Seasons Kamloops

Seasons Kamloops

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bigquotesI rung my jaw off my handlebar so hard that my face swelled up like Jay Leno’s huge chin. I probably should have spent more time recovering from hitting my head, but in those days I don’t think that was such a big thing. I went back a couple months later and stomped it clean.Matt Hunter

Seasons North Shore

Seasons North Shore

Seasons North Shore

Views: 1,380    Faves: 2    Comments: 0


Reminiscing about the golden days of lycra and flat cross-country tracks of the ‘90s always puts a smile on my face, but it was the segment shot at Shandro’s local North Shore trails that brought home the reason why so many of us ride mountain bikes in the first place. He exemplified this in one of the most powerful quotes in the film: "If I can find a time in the day to get out for a ride, even if it’s for an hour, then that turns into a pretty good day."

bigquotesThe storytelling and lifestyle parts of a mountain bike movie are so critical. It brings you in as a viewer. Yeah, you’ll remember some action and some amazing tricks, but sometimes the most memorable parts are not the riding.Andrew Shandro

Seasons BTS
BTS Seasons
Seasons BTS

There is, of course, a gaping hole in this article - the hole left by Stevie Smith. We lost Canada’s most successful downhill mountain biker in 2016 to an off-road motorcycle accident, and if he was still here today I’m sure he would have so much to say about his first feature film appearance and the gratitude he felt towards his mom helping him achieve his dream of “one day having a Canadian stand on the podium next to Sam Hill and Steve Peat.”

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bigquotesVanderham’s scrub segment in Nicola Valley was amazing, it made me want to learn how to do that. But Stevie’s segment was also really inspiring for me, he was only a year or so older than me at the time. Seeing him be in a movie… If he was a just another local kid who could make it, I thought I could do it, too.Casey Brown

Seasons Whistler Bike Park

Seasons Whistler Bike Park

Seasons BTS

Seasons Whistler Bike Park

Seasons Whistler Bike Park

Seeing these riders - hailing from a gamut of disciplines - shred through the berms on Karate Monkey (and the yet-to-open-trail Ninja Cougar) made me want to do nothing other than ride the Whistler Bike Park with my friends. The A-Line train made me want to learn how to whip. And still to this day I’ll attempt (unsuccessfully) to boost the bridge like Vanderham. The Cat Empire’s song “Two Shoes” will forever be burned into my brain as the soundtrack to misty Garbanzo laps in late September.

bigquotes“When I saw the finished film I was like damn, that’s exactly what it was like to be there in Whistler. They captured and delivered it perfectly, it was so much fun to ride with all those guys I look up to. I always think about Stevie on that trip and getting to shred with that little grom (at the time). It’s one of the reasons I reflect on that trip so fondly.Matt Hunter

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“(The Whistler segment) showed the essence of what we all hope to achieve on our mountain bikes," says Hennessey Turenne. "You’re with your friends, nothing else matters, it’s complete bliss. It was the climax of the film. An audience can only take so much emotionally powerful storytelling, so in turn, you often have to release them with levity. (The Collective) timed that levity so well, they created the tension within the film then released it with that segment. The audience was ready to smile.”

Seasons Whistler Bike Park

Checking the footage in Whistler

bigquotesTen years later, and we're still smiling. Not only for what Seasons represented then, but the legacy that influenced action sports filmmakers to this very day. As Anthill dives into a busy summer filming schedule for their upcoming film Return to Earth, The Collective's final work still resonates a decade on.Darcy Wittenburg, Director

Happy anniversary, Seasons.

cam mccaul and steve peat


Must Read This Week

58 Comments

  • + 79
 One of my alltime favourite bike movies alongside The Collective and Roam. I don't think I'd be a filmmaker today without seeing The Collective when I was 13. That was the start for me. Cheers boys!
  • + 6
 Seasons was the first MTB film I bought (I never really knew there was such a thing as a kid) but it made me buy Roam, the Collective and made me want to visit all the locations! Incredible movie, always will be and I still end up watching it to get excited to ride.

Seeing Stevie shred hard will live in the memory, R.I.P!
  • + 4
 Shit I feel old! When these came out I was lamenting the death of my Transcontinetal VHS
  • + 2
 Bought it on DVD at the ripe age of 13 and man has it been an inspiration over the years.
  • + 6
 Darren Berrecloth's opening segment in Roam is still my favorite of all time. This series changed how MTB movies were filmed/edited especially when all you had before was NSX, NWD, Down/Double Down and Cranked. It blew up the standard formula.
  • + 21
 Stevie's mom is a role model to me as a parent. Her love and support for her kid following his passion is inspiring. I have watched this segment so many times over the years. These films were game changers.
  • + 16
 Those 680mm handlebars!!! Remember when they were considered wide?


Jokes aside, The Collective marked a new beginning in the way films were made. They began to have a structure, while still maintaining that freshness in depicting its characters Cam talks about. The Whistler segment still puts a smile in my face every time I watch it, and led me to discover The Cat Empire. That's just the cherry on top.
  • + 7
 Wish I could upvote this more. The film and that cat empire track brings up mixed emotions for me. I was living in Whistler at the time it came out, but i also had a bad crash that gave me a spinal injury leaving me in a wheelchair. Reminds me of great memories riding with friends in the park but it was also they last time I rode a bike. Frown
  • + 6
 Every time Cat Empire play in my local town I make sure I go see them
  • + 1
 @froman82: Me too haha
  • + 2
 @froman82: Too bad they came just once down here, and it was before I knew they existed :-(.
  • + 1
 Haha just tought the same about the 680 wide bars Smile Looks weird nowadays on those gaps
  • + 13
 Anyone else been a Cat Empire fan for ten years now?
  • + 1
 Count me in!
  • + 6
 Yeah, but lets not forget shandro's north shore segment with citizen cope 'bullet and a target'. Still a common preride song for me ten years later!
  • + 5
 @audioshnoll: yup. That song was on high rotation for a while. Arguably still is.

As for favourite segments, Sam Hill and Stevie dust-roosting while rocking out to Pennywise's peaceful day was just awesome.
  • + 11
 The Collective/Roam and Life Cycles are the best MTB movies ever...can´t stop watching this old stuff… it´s timeless!
  • + 3
 100% agree.

Whenever a new mtb movie comes out, those three movies are what I compare it to.
  • + 1
 @OzMike: oh yes...your right man
  • + 10
 Matt Hunter's segment is still my favourite and I think this will never change
  • + 8
 To this day, Seasons and Life Cycles are still the two best MTB movies ever made, IMO. Nothing in the past ten years has come close.
  • + 4
 Pretty sure I’ve seen this every year for the last six on vacation. It’s playing on repeat in Pemberton’s best restaurant. Shout out to some fire, Mile One!!!
  • + 2
 I enjoyed all movies of that time, NWD, Kranked... But for me, ROAM is what changed everything. It got me into Freeriding, and motivated me to go to Whistler when I knew nothing about proper cornering or jumping technique. The Collective's movies were just that different... less 'rowdy', more mellow soundtrack, just showing riders having fun on their bikes. Still an inspiratino to this day.
Reading this article I realize I never actually watched SEASONS in one complete session so that's what I'll do tonight :-)
  • + 2
 I went to the UK cinema screening with Peaty hosting. People were literally sat in the aisles and standing in the walkways/doorways it was mad. Such a buzz though, still love that film.
  • + 1
 'Seasons' and probably more-so 'Roam' completely changed Mountain Biking for me, prior to Roam it was something I took up, pretty late in life at 28 in 2005 because I was grossly unfit and in the UK you get income tax relief on bikes, but Roam blew my mind, and Seasons swept away what was left of it and years later I'm still riding, still pushing my modest boundaries.
  • + 1
 this by far the best mtb film EVER!, its the reason why i started biking back in 2011 along with the cedric gracia segment in NWD8, imagine how sick would be a movie with all the former riders of the collective, maybe Steve Peat could introduce Loris and Luca, maybe telling how this sport has changed since 2008
  • + 2
 Great riding, locations, shots and music--Classic. Hunter, Smith, Peaty, Shandro shit all of them what a crew. I even purchased 18 candles and My Love of course some Rise Against after watching Seasons
  • + 5
 Damn man, I miss chainsaw
  • + 2
 Does anyone know the location of Matt Hunter's Jump? I know it's in Kamloops but, i will travel this summer to the city and i wold love to be on the jump place, once in my life... Please share the google maps location!!
  • + 7
 I think i found it. goo.gl/maps/J4yDjKiJ8eK2
  • + 1
 @raulbg26: Juniper Bike Ranch
  • + 4
 This trilogy was probably the biggest reason/inspiration to get me riding MTB just over 10 years ago!
  • + 1
 Somehow having more a passion for photography than for video, I always loved those slideshows over background music in Collective videos. These catch the vibe so beautifully! I may have a preference of Roam over Seasons, maybe just because a documentary just lends itself for less frequent viewing and getting me excited. But that's just me. These are beautifully done.
  • + 2
 Down right my favourite MTB movie of all time!!.....that story, more of this kind of MTB movies should be made, and lets not ever forget the late great legend Stevie Smith segment!!! #LongLiveChainsaw !!!!
  • + 1
 Yep it's feels like it was yesterday, am I feeling old? Actually no. May be just I wish I could started mountain biking early in my life, but despite this every year I fall more and more in love with this sport and more and more I want to associate my life with it...
Now I'll go watch this amazing movie again, this time with my kids Smile
  • + 1
 Amazing soundtracks on these segements too....as much as I love RAw some of these tunes have become some of my favourite tracks too. Seasons and Follow me are proabably my all time fave movies.
  • + 4
 RIP steve smith!
  • + 1
 The Collective films captured such a rad vibe and are still great to watch. Roam is my favourite of the three. They were such a breath of fresh air after the NWD films.
  • + 1
 Roam got me into freeriding. What a great couple of films these guys have made. Back when Manitou Travis’ we’re the beez neez!
  • + 1
 A fantastic film - still one of my absolute favourites and inspired me so much as a kid. Going to re-watch it tonight for sure!
  • + 2
 Tears seeing that Stevie segment .... Far and away the BEST collection of MTB films IMO!
  • + 3
 Back when “sending it” always meant more than 30+ feet
  • + 2
 Probably the movie that got me into bikes! Those big bike gaps are still huge today! (Bars are tiny though!)
  • + 1
 Look!-what's this all the way?? 26" or what? Looks like a lot of fun, maybe we can make a lot of money selling this new better wheelsize :-p !
  • + 2
 As a born-again mtber, this is the decade I missed...awesome catchup.
  • + 2
 Amazing, thanks for sharing PB!!
  • + 1
 one of the best films ever just wish i could watch the videos but there all password protected whats that on about
  • + 4
 Haha! You see back in the olden days there was this thing where cool people used to make great films, sometimes up to an hour long, then they would get their money back and hopefully a bit more by selling them to people on little shiny discs that you put into a special machine. God I feel old.
  • + 1
 @simonusedtoskate: ...and if you were lucky your wife or SO would order them for you as Xmas presents.
  • + 2
 Man this give me the chills!
  • + 1
 Seasons and Roam changed my life. Thank you for everyone that was involved and made them happen.
  • + 1
 best times of my youth watching these videos! im about to cry!
  • + 1
 There should be an Unearthing of Earthed next!
  • + 2
 Always a favorite!
  • + 1
 I wanna see Matt Hunter riding backcountry adventures with Steve Peat!
  • + 1
 Shandro, those stunts and that Citizen Cope joint... all time classic imo
  • + 1
 My all time favorite!

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