How did the conversation start about getting together to produce Deathgrip?
Well, me and Clay Porter have been working together on the World Cup Circuit for about 10 years now and it has been talked about for years between us at events and on nights out. It was such a dream to do it, but neither of us had the backing to do it then; we were both a lot younger and a lot more stupid than we are now and we couldn’t have made it happen then. But we’ve both dug our feet in and made pretty good names for ourselves now thankfully, so we put a proposal together, got some funding together and actually made it a reality. It’s been almost 2 years of scouting, digging and filming and it’s come out in a crazy 50 minute film that I’m really excited about!
The word death grip comes from some MTB terminology about the way you hold your bars when riding? Please explain more and tell us how it makes the perfect name for the film?
A Deathgrip is the way you hold a Mountain Bike, (or any bike) when you don’t cover the brakes. It’s quite a bad idea to do, normally, because you want to be in control and holding the brakes. The thinking is it’s full commitment, there’s no option to brake, so you have to go in hard on every section. And that’s the direction I wanted the movie to go in: I wanted every section to be full commitment: Crashes, awesome turns, fast speed and rad riding.
If you could talk about primary objectives when you set out to pick the location
From the very start, the concept was to ride with some of the most innovative riders out there right now, in some of the most epic locations in the world. So capturing the best riders and the best locations possible.
There are many MTB athletes out there as well a lot of talented filmers – What made Clay and Brendog the perfect combo to set out on this filmmaking journey?
I’m lucky enough to have some really talented friends on bikes and he’s lucky enough to know some really talented filmmakers and producers and it sounds cringey, but it really was a passion project for both of us. There were so many athletes and filmmakers that wanted to be involved with the project; no one was forced to be there you know, which makes the project pretty special and it doesn’t feel like work at all.
What were the challenges in making Deathgrip stand out and not just another ‘Mountain Bike movie’?
For me, the biggest challenge was doing my job as well, which is racing on the World Cup circuit and then also gathering the riders I wanted and getting them together at the same time was a huge challenge, as obviously we’re trying to film this as well as racing a full World Cup season and fly out to these locations. I had such a vision of what I wanted to film and where I wanted to go, so I had to go and actually build about 70% of everything that was in the film myself. I flew out to each of the locations, scouted the areas and then flew out again to build what I actually wanted to get built and then flew out again and filmed them. A lot of organisation was involved; having to fly 15 people out to film at each location is obviously costly, and hard to organise. But we did it, it was a big learning curve and we pulled together and did it. So time management was the biggest challenge in the end.
What the criteria when selecting the other athletes to star in the film?
I wanted the big influencers in the sport. When I was a kid and watched MTB films, I would copy someone that I looked up to.. and I wanted to create that, so that when people watch this film they think “I want to try that, or I want to go there,” so that was the main objective. I want people to come home from school or work and chuck the movie on and think “I’m going to go ride like Josh or Brendan...” something that will make people ride bikes and push themselves past their limits.
Describe a time you wanted to throw down your bike / camera and just go home?
There was a lot of times! The worst time was in Utah when I’d just spent 10 days digging and found out that half the stuff I’d dug was actually in an illegal zone, so we weren’t even allowed to use it, so that was frustrating! But from the beginning we said we were going to make it as stress-free as possible, but it doesn’t always work out that way!
We all know you didn’t do it alone..share some insight on the who made up the closest members of the DG team and who they made this massive project possible
The main guys would be Clay Porter, Chris Seger, John Reynolds, Robbie Mead- those would be the main 4 big dogs that, the chief camera guys and it wouldn’t have happened without them.
If you could talk about the MTB Kit and course production kit that was used during the filming
Well obviously, for continuity purposes you have to wear the same colour kit throughout the whole shoot, you can’t be changing every day. So, you have to be making sure you have a few pairs of the same kit- you don’t want to be turning up on set with the same stinky kit every day. And the sweat towel is important, you’re walking up and down sections all day, pushing back up to film the same 200m section again and again. There’s the same amount of pushing as there is riding, so I’ve never walked as much in my life!