We've been lagging pretty bad on the Anthill blog lately, so it was awesome when Phil Brock - who as been helping the crew out on the side - offered to take a crack at at it. Here's a recap of his experience on a recent trip to Kamloops with Geoff Gulevich, Kurt Sorge and Matt Hunter. All photos from Sterling Lorence.
The night before I was supposed to leave Anthill Films producer Ian Dunn called me up and gave me some very rough directions to meet the crew who were already in Kamloops. After quite a few wrong turns and confused conversations with the locals, I finally arrived at the location – “Brad’s Yard”. That pretty much sums up what it is. Much to the dismay of his wife, Kurt’s buddy Brad, has literally turned his backyard into the ultimate playground for mountain bikers. Walking up to the yard, my first impression was one of amazement. There were features and lines everywhere, and right in the middle I was confronted by the sight of two MASSIVE doubles. To be honest, when I first set eyes on these things I thought they were for motos! After soaking in the scene, I started to realize how much time and sweat Brad must have put into making his vision a reality. The whole zone is perfectly manicured and I couldn’t believe the level of detail that he has put into every feature.
Watching the riders’ – Geoff Gulevich and Kurt Sorge – session the yard each day was equally impressive. On the first day I was there, Gully had a huge scare on the two big doubles. Launching himself into the stratosphere off the first booter he landed in a two-wheel drift. Deciding he could still make the next double he got the bike back in-line and punched it off the next jump. However, he didn’t have enough speed and double-cased the landing resulting in a heavy crash to the ground. The next day, I watched in amazement as he threw down tricks like one-foot tables over the doubles, as if the previous day’s crash didn’t even faze him. Meanwhile, Sorge boosted huge Superman’s and Superman seat-grabs, as well as Indian airs. The whole session looked more like a freestyle moto-X event rather than two mountain bikers hitting a couple of dirt jumps. The scale of the whole thing was just simply mind-blowing!
With enough footage in the can the crew called it a wrap at Brad’s place. Our next stop would be Matt Hunter’s house in Kamloops. Matt always has an open invitation to crash his pad, so with everything loaded we headed out. Since Anthill’s last visit, Matt had been relentless in his search for more shooting locations in and around Kamloops. So, once we arrived he was eager to get out in the field and begin filming.
The first day of shooting took us to a classic Kamloops area known as Jamieson. The drive out was pretty typical until Matt’s truck got a flat. The “Anger”, as Matt calls it, is a ’89 Ford Ranger that he bought from a friend and it has almost become an iconic fixture in the mountain bike world. The “Anger” has appeared in countless photos and films over the years and despite looking as if it has seen better days, Matt’s dedication to the vehicle is as strong as ever. Before long Matt had swapped out the flat with the spare and we continued our ascent up Jamieson.
After a bit of bushwhacking with the vehicles on an over-grown logging road, we arrived at the section of trail Matt wanted to film. Sorge also came with us and before long the boys were shredding epic Jamieson singletrack through the fall woods. With plenty of sweet shots in the bag we all headed back to Matt’s place for some well-deserved beers and pizza.
While sitting around that evening, I came to a realization…after years of watching mountain bike films of all types it is easy to start believing that all these guys (filmmakers and riders) live some kind of rock star lifestyle. However, looking around Hunter’s living room that night I saw something entirely different. To be honest, everyone just looked beat. The early mornings, working past dark, trekking up and down trails had taken its toll. Now, I’m sure there are nights when all of these guys can party with the best of them but it wasn’t going to be tonight. Instead, our nights were spent with casual conversations over some beers, catching-up on e-mails, making personal phone calls to family & friends and watching Ricky Bobby run around thinking he is on fire.
The next morning was an early one…again. It was still dark when I was awoken by my ruthless alarm clock. The goal that morning was to capture Matt shredding a new line he had carved out near the Rio. The crew was in a frantic race to get out to the location and get set-up before the sunrise. Light, as I learned quickly on this trip, plays such a crucial role in filming. The Anthill crew is in constant search for the “right” light. “Right” light can be hard to find though. Sometimes you have too much of it, sometimes not enough, and sometimes you don’t want much light at all.
Matt calls his new line the “Treeline” and it was easy to see why. He starts on the drop-in for the Rio and after the first sweeping left-hander he makes a quick right-hander where he has to then carve under some tree branches. After that it was a small but very tricky berm-to-berm jump over a shrub. It was key to nail this in order to keep his momentum up for the next feature; a large double that sent Matt, basically, through a tree. The jump was placed beside a large tree that had been pruned to allow him to jump over the lower branches and underneath the upper branches. After a few tries, Matt nailed the line with style and flow. Before the day was done Sorge would join us again for an epic evening shot on a piece of singletrack overlooking the Thompson River.
After five straight days of working with Anthill, I came to learn a few things. First, these guys work as a team. They constantly bounce ideas off one another and listen to the input and perspective from the riders. They don’t live “rock star” lives. Instead, they sacrifice everything to document mountain biking in an artistic and meaningful way. It means being on the road away from family and friends. It means early mornings followed by hours of lugging gear around in the bush and then early nights to regain strength for the next day. The riders work their ass’s off to get the right shot and sometimes have to put life & limb on the line to make it happen. Lastly, I learned that there are some truly passionate people out there in the mountain biking world that rarely get any attention for what they just love to do. Brad is without a doubt one of these guys – just a regular guy casually building and hitting 34-foot monster gaps in his backyard with no one around. Only one word comes to mind when I look back at the trip… DEDICATION.
Thanks to Brad and his wife for their hospitality and Matt Hunter for allowing us to crash his pad. I would personally like to thank Ian, Darcy, CJ, Schramm, Dzogg, Sterling, Gully, Kurt, and Matt for allowing me to tag along and see what goes down behind the scenes. Until next time…
Phil Brock on behalf of Anthill Films