MBR You built your reputation in the mtb industry as a photographer; why are you switching to film? Logical progression?
DF I’d say it’s a bit of that for sure. The mtb industry has been great for me the past decade; I just had the need to change it up a bit and film has opened up a whole new world, yet still a familiar one.
MBR What’s the new film about, in a nutshell?
DF It’s a visually driven mtb film, with a lot of effort spent on every shot. We are going to portray a lot of the aspects about mountain biking and what makes it such a great sport, which has been missed by other productions.
MBR Describe the latest scene you completed?
DF In the past month our Red camera has seen 100kph winds, 800°C and also been dangled 60 stories over cities. Good month… sweet footage.
MBR I read on your blog that you’ve shot a city scene. What is there in the city to interest mountain bikers? Surely right-angles and straight lines don’t lead to great riding?
DF It’s all part of a bigger picture.
MBR How do you go about organising something like a shoot — you had problems getting a truck recently?
DF Shoots are completely logistical nightmares. With a two-man crew like we are we have been a lot of things to a lot of people. I am new to the game and I am making a bunch of mistakes. But as we claw our way along I am starting to figure it out a bit more. It’s really what makes the difference between the people doing it and the people talking about doing it. A lot of people could make great bike films, but only a few have the tools and creativity to make things work. That’s really what I am finding out: what makes films is the ability to make it happen. You have to be able to adapt quickly, especially in the field.
MBR From Kranked, to Roam to Earthed, there are dozens of film-makers out there capturing the mtb scene. So how do you make your films stand out from the crowd?
DF We are not thinking about how to stand out from the crowd, we are trying to make a film the best we can and hope that it stands out when people see it.
MBR Darren Berrecloth, Matt Hunter, Cam McCaul, Thomas Vanderham are all featuring in the film — it reads like a who’s who of greats. How do you get big names on board for the project?
DF My photo background helps, since I have shot with most guys before. The riders are looking to get into the best films they can and if they think Life Cycles is going to be worthy then they’ll ride for us. So far guys are stoked, so we are able to line up the big names.
MBRWhen you’re filming a scene do you have a clear idea of what it should look like or is it more rough and ready; do you go with the flow and work it out when you’re on set, or is it somewhere in-between?
DF Our film is different in the sense that we have a script we are following. We have an idea of what we want generally, but have to stay open-minded to what’s around us. Recently we were in Utah and we were fighting the wind hard. Not getting anything. Then instead of fighting, we used the wind and started to get epic shots.
Go with the flow is definitely a big part of the gig.
MBR It must be frustrating when things don’t go to plan and you can’t get the kind of shots you want?
DF Pretty much sucks ass. You don’t have control of a lot of the factors you face making an mtb film. Frustration can for sure settle in, but we try to relax knowing that eventually our luck will turn and we’ll start to get shots. What people don’t see is the waiting game we are willing to play. It’s a constant hurry up and wait.
MBR Ever had anything go really wrong?
DF Not anything huge… knock on wood… but every day you face about 20 things that go wrong, you just figure out how to solve them… constant change.
MBR But when it goes right? What does that feel like?
DF Excitement mixed with relief.
MBR Most videos include a few snippets of how a film was made, but how much preparation before and editing/producing afterwards goes into it?
DF We have about three years’ prep before shooting our first scene, and since I am new to the game, not sure how long it’ll take to edit. Probably twice as long as I would say in this interview, so I won’t say.
MBR What’s your best bit from your latest film and why?
DF I really like everything we shoot. If I don’t we re-shoot until we are happy.
MBR A soundtrack can make or break a film, how do you pick yours?
DF Listening to internet radio has brought some artists to our attention that are a little unknown. We are also exploring custom music for the film with various talented people.
MBR So where else might we have seen your work, both stills and films?
DF I have shot stills for a lot of publications and brands worldwide. Motion is a different story. My business partner has more exposure in this world, shooting for Red Bull, documentary on Travis Pastrana and so on. We did the Saint vids last summer and yeah that’s pretty much all. We have had a lot of people approach us over the past few years to shoot, but we are dedicating our efforts to Life Cycles then we’ll see what kind of opportunities arise.
MBR When’s the film released?
DF The golden question. We get asked a few times a day. I’ll say this: it’ll be out some time in the somewhat near future. We let everyone see it when it’s done and done right… sound good?
MBR Where are you off to next for filming?
DF We just got off six weeks’ shooting on the road, we are home base for a bit now, then probably at Kamloops in the near future with Matt Hunter.
MBR Can we see a teaser? Where can we hear more about Life Cycles?
DF Anything we are ready to show is online at our website www.lifecycles film.com. Check the teasers, there are four, and check the blog. We have something really badass in the works for a teaser but can’t say just yet, but you will see it in about two weeks.
1992 Bought my first camera — an old-school Zeiss Icon
1997 First published photo, Bike magazine’s Photo Annual special cover
1998 Went to journalism school and specialised in photojournalism
2003 Met Ryan Gibb shooting his film Suspect — talked about doing a film together
2004 Moved to the mountains to small BC town called Rossland
2004 Made senior photographer for Bike, plus shooting for top bike brands
2009 Still working on Life Cycles, but the end is near!