James Smurthwaite, Online Screen Editor, was blown away by the European Outdoor Film Tour
The European Outdoor Film Tour has just left our shores to carry on its journey through Germany, France and beyond. Thankfully before it left we got the chance to see what it was all about in Bristol.
The Bristol leg of the tour was pitched at the St Georgre’s centre, an unusual location for an action sports film tour, given that it traditionally hosts classical concerts, but the sell out crowd were determined to prove they weren’t out of place.
Here’s a few film highlights from the selection on offer
Off width climbing is climbing at its most attritional. To climb off width is to climb a crack that is wider than a hand width but not wide enough to fit a limb in. It is regarded as the hardest form of crack climbing. In Wide Boyz, two lads from Yorkshire wanted to tackle the Century Crack, an unconquered climb, dubbed the hardest off width in the world.
Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall trained for two years, their training regime was so rigorous it included constructing a replica of the crack in Tom’s basement.
Shots largely circulated around thrusting fists, fingers, feet, simply anything that would grip to the rock, into the crack in an effort to inch their way up the route. However, despite the relatively repetitious nature of the film, the athletes showed the suffering and perseverance needed to tackle off width climbing and provided a fantastic opening for the tour.
Whilst Norway may strike the casual observer as a wintry wonderland, it’s surprisingly overlooked by the world of ski films.
Supervention aims to change all that.
Starring an all Norwegian cast, and mainly situated in Norway the film has a very concentrated feel, but does not suffer because of it. crazily technical lines through gorgeously sublime landscapes (including some never before ridden) interspersed with inventive urban shoots create an aesthetically beautiful film with the power to amaze. Well worth a watch!
Petit Bus Rouge
The craziest thing you’ll see all year. Just watch the trailer to get an idea of what this barmy, eclectic bunch of Frenchies are all about…
In a similar vein to Petit Bus Rouge, Not Bad focuses less on groundbreaking exploration and achievements, and more on the action sports lifestyle. Te idea behind the project was simple, take some of the world’s best mountain bikers to Queenstown and simply film the results.
What the Anthill Films returned with was entertaining if not, at times, unfathomably random. Some of the world’s finest riding is interspersed with chainsawing melons, hovercrafts and eel fights, but somehow it works, appearing more as the best Summer you never had more than just another film to promote sponsors.
After the tour left Bristol we managed to get a chat with World Champion Freeride Mountain Biker, Brandon Semenuk, and Producer/Director/ Writer of Anthill Films (makers of Not Bad), Darcy Wittenberg.
From the first viewing of the trailer, we knew that Not Bad would be something a bit different from most mountain biking films, really bringing out the personalities of the riders and focusing on narratives. Was this a stylistic choice from the start, or just something that happened with the riders at the time?
Darcy: We definitely wanted NotBad to be different from other mountain biking films. Portraying the riders having a good time and not taking themselves too seriously was something we wanted to achieve from the beginning, and we knew the Trek C3 Team would be the team to make this work. We didn’t want this to be a soul-searching mountain bike film, we just wanted it to be about having a good time riding your bike. If you want to go ride your bike after watching this film, I think we’ve done our job!
Brandon: I think Anthill had hoped to give the film that Skate/BMX team vibe, but it definitely wasn’t planned. If you put a handful of action sports athletes in their environment you’re bound to get personality and character because that where everyone feels most comfortable. It’s just like another day hanging out and riding with friends… Anthill had just captured all of that.
What do you look for in a landscape when you try to find shoot locations, what was it about Queenstown in particular that influenced you to shoot exclusively there?
Darcy: Versatility is key. We shot this film in February, so we had to travel somewhere that was warm (or at least that didn’t have snow on the ground). Since we were in the middle of winter in Canada, we thought New Zealand would be the perfect choice. We had access to a huge diversity of locations, from epic alpine singletrack, to the dirt jump heaven at the Gorge Road jumps, to building mind-bending stunts on the famous Frew Farm.
Brandon: It’s definitely a team effort. The location needs to be ideal for both rider and filmer. As a rider you are usually trying to figure out where you can fit and what values you can add inside of the film crew’s creative. Even down to getting each shot, there is a constant communication on direction and look. As a rider, feeling like everything is 100% ready with the filmers is when I commit 100% to getting my tricks or lines.
Darcy, your work is so original for the mountain biking world, do you get inspiration from other action sports films? If so which ones in particular?
Definitely. With NotBad we really wanted to capture the vibe of early skate and snowboard films—having a good time but still throwing down and progressing the sport. Living in BC, we are exposed to so many different kinds of action sports, so it’s natural to pull inspiration from each to keep our films fresh.
Brandon, you’re focusing less and less on competition riding and more on filming. Is there a particular reason for this? Are you disenchanted with competition riding? Do you see filming as the future for Freeride mountain biking?
I’ve done so much competing in my career that it doesn’t give me the same accomplishment as it did when I first started. Now it all seems to blend together and get repetitive. With filming, I can be as creative as I want, do the tricks I want, and repeat it as many times as I need until my style is something I’m happy with. You can literally put as much into a film project as you want, you’re not limited to 2 attempts.