As 2010 sets in and the Web videos pass by faster and faster, it's easy to forget about one of the best BMX Web series of 2009. Episodic, filmed beautifully, and most importantly (with the exception of the second of the three videos) full of amazing riding, the Fox Andalucia series should be a template for the circus that BMX media can be at times. The series also proved that the magazines and the Internet can work together to create exciting and interesting content. The creator of the series, Joe Rich, also manned the lens of his still camera and took over the duties for a just as awe-inspiring article in issue 70 of Dig BMX Magazine. The article also "leaked" some of the more memorable images of the video without compromising either formats. Joe answered a few questions I had about the series and the process. Check that, and read on about the behind the scenes features of all three videos below.
ESPN.com: For those out there who haven't read the Dig article, how did Andalucia all come about?
Joe Rich: Well, it had been awhile since I had hung out with both Ruben [Alcantara] and Garrett [Byrnes] together. Throughout the years, I have spent so much time traveling with those two, they are like brothers to me. I knew that Garrett was planning on spending a couple of months in Spain with Ruben, and I was planning to meet up with them for a couple of those weeks. I was talking to Misty at Fox one day about it, and she asked me if I could get a few clips of Ruben for a shop promo video Fox was putting together. Then that escalated into getting a few photos too. Then there was talk of possibly getting more video footage and making a 3-5 minute edit from the trip. Chase [Hawk] heard about the trip and hopped aboard as well. So the entire concept changed and grew a lot. In the end, I told them I wanted to do a small series on the trip instead. I felt that I would be able to show a little bit more in a series, and I wanted it to be more than just riding footage. I feel that sometimes when I watch edits of trips that people take, the only reason why you know where they are is because of the titling for the video or feature. There is so much that happens on a trip to another country that has always made me want to show more. So I guess that's what this was to me. A chance to show our adventure.
Awesome, and how long did you stay in Spain working on this?
Three weeks time. We originally were only going to stay for two weeks, but in the end, we decided that an extra week would be better for everyone.
I sincerely feel that this series, together with the Dig article was one of the best executions of old and new media. Was there ever talk about it being a DVD or was it a Web series from the start?
Thanks man! That means a lot hearing that. Well, I kind of answered this some in the above words, but I guess there is more me to add to it. I feel that there has always been more to riding than just riding. The experiences that come along with it can be unreal at times. Between the things that happen, the people you meet, the places you go, the things you see and then to add riding on top of all that -- it's the best. And that's why with the few videos I've ever made, I've always tried to present a sense of balance of all those things. Because I know people feel these things when they go somewhere new. Yet it all usually gets cast aside when it comes down to the editing room. Mainly, when I film and edit something, the most important thing to me is that the people involved with the video are happy with it. So to me, with Andalucia, if Chase and Ruben were stoked on it, then I felt good about it, and knew that I made it right. I thought Fox might do a small run of DVDs of it after all was said and done, but it just never happened.
View episode one here: http://vimeo.com/4537732
The second part, with El Chorro, is nuts. I don't think I would have been able to walk that at all. What's the deal with that place? Do they just let anyone go out there?
I think there is some sort of rule saying that you shouldn't be there, but not in the sense that you'll go to jail. The only way to even get in to that place is with climbing gear. You start by repelling down 75-feet or so, just to get to the walkway. When I first went to Spain, back in 2001, I went to El Chorro for the first time. I feel like that experience was way sketchier. We had no idea what this place was, and Ruben just kept laughing. The way you got in back then is broken out and blocked off now. And I can assure you that's a good thing. One small wrong move, on the very first thing you had to do getting in, and you would die for sure. I was so scared, and excited at the same time. Each time we got to a new place where more of the walkway was broken out, I thought that would be as far as we were going. After all, we didn't have any of the safety gear we had this time. It was pretty stupid of us actually, but like I said, it was really exciting at the time. I was really excited about going back there this past time. I liked the fact that we went with experienced climbers. They made the whole thing possible. And we got to do way more since we had safety gear this time. In the climbing world, that place is really well known. Its almost like a hidden paradise for them. But it is super dangerous at the same time. Its a wonderful, and crazy experience all rolled into one.
View episode two here: http://www.vimeo.com/4903299
The trails in the third part; are those just in the middle of the city? They look awesome. The hip really doesn't make sense. Seeing you had firsthand experience with it, I don't know if you wanted to add anymore about the hip?
Well the "hip" has been an idea that's evolved over the past six or so years. We (Ruben, Garrett and myself) have always talked about building a giant, snowboard style hip somewhere out in the woods. Just something so massive that's never really been done on BMX bikes. Snowboard videos and comps always have these enormous hips, and you can just picture what it would feel like on a bike. So way back when we did the T1 video, we built the first version of it. As I said, none of these are the exact set up we originally talked about, but it's better to make ones and see how they work, rather than waiting to find the perfect set up that may never happen. So the second one came when Garrett and Ruben built a huge one in New Jersey at the Heavy Equipment Operators training center. And Ruben's hip in this Andalucia series, was the latest version of it. That thing is amazing. It's huge, but so comfortable at the same time. Ruben made it almost as perfect at you could make it. Ruben is a genius. I would have been terrified hitting that for the first time for sure. The trails that the hip is at is on the outskirts of Malaga. Ruben and his friends have had trails there for a long time.
Alright, I should probably ask Ruben this myself but does he strictly look to surfing for inspiration on his bike?
I don't think Ruben ever looks in only one place for inspiration. He is a sponge that soaks up so much of what both interests him and surrounds him. With how much he has progressed bike riding as we know it, there must be diverse influence always at play. That guy is not only an incredible visionary, he is also one incredible "do"er. He doesn't sit around wondering for too long about things before he is already out there trying to make them work.
Since you were there on media duties, there wasn't that much footage of you, do you want to talk about the differences between being filmed and you doing the filming?
Since it was the first job I was doing for Fox like this, I didn't know how set they were only having only Ruben and Chase in the video. It was a learning process for me for sure. Usually in the past, I'd pick up the camera when I was done riding or not riding, or if someone wanted to specifically film something. This trip I wanted to put more effort into what I was filming and how I was filming it. Like riding, filming takes a lot of practice as well. Especially when you have shots when you are panning, and zooming at the same time. I had certain ways that I wanted things to look, so I needed to put that practice time as well. That way, when the right moment came around, I would be ready, hopefully haha, but I'm happy with how it all worked out.
Yeah it turned out great, can we expect anything like this from T1 in the future?
I have so many ideas for stuff like this, so many! Those old two things, time and money, can tend to make things difficult at times though. I'm trying to put in the work now that would allow me to free up some time and be able to work on another full video. Gotta keep at it. Fingers crossed.
Well we're all looking forward to it. Thanks Joe.