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Friday, May 20, 2011
Video: The Catalyst - Adam Jones



I'm more of an observer of Twitter, rather than a participant, which I should be seeing I run ESPN FMX's Twitter account. However, there's just something satisfying about seeing what everyone is up to without having to engage in conversation with them. About a month ago I saw Adam Jones tweeting that budding filmmaker Kyle Cowling was paying him a visit in Carson City, Nev., and that they were filming some sort of epic video. "@adamjones760: Just so everyone knows, me and @kylecowling are about to make the sickest web film ever ... so keep your eyes peeled!" Jones said via Twitter. Knowing Cowling and his work, I was pretty excited to see what the two were working on.

A month later, Cowling dropped the web clip via TransWorld Motocross's website and it was all I hoped it would be. At eleven minutes, "The Catalyst" is enough to get the point across, yet remain engaging. Since Cowling is trying to push the envelope with every video he makes, I decided to hit him up and pick his brain about how the video came to fruition.

ESPN.com: How did you come up with the idea for the video?
Kyle Cowling: My inspiration for "The Catalyst" actually came from two surf movies, a BMX film, and an upcoming snowboarding film. I spend a lot of time watching videos on Vimeo.com and also other action sports that are not moto-related. The two surf films that really inspired this were "The Drifter", and "Castles in the Sky," both directed by one of my favorite action sports filmmakers, Taylor Steele.

"The Drifter" is this really rad lifestyle project featuring Rob Machado that basically shows him running around Bali and Indo trying to escape the contest scene, media, and all the other tedious tasks that come alone with being at the top of your sport. I really dug the concept of not so much focusing on the surfing, but instead highlighting what this individual was all about and showcasing a side of this person that the public never sees. I mean, we all know what these guys are good at, but what the hell are they really like when they aren't surfing, or riding, or skating, etc, you know? So, I ran with that concept and built a ton of ideas that I'd like to see myself.

How did Jones respond to the idea?
Adam and I had been trying to film for oh, I don't know, six-months or so? But schedule conflicts and such kept getting in the way. Finally, about a month prior to the first Red Bull X-Fighters contest, Adam shot me a text saying he was in Southern California and wanted to make something happen. Go figure that the day we planned, it rained like no other. So, Adam told me that he'd be down to have me come up to his place in Carson City, Nev. and do something more legit than just a quick ramp sesh. Once he said that, I instantly knew that Adam was the guy I was going to feature in this project. I started telling him what I wanted to do, and it was almost like telling a kid that you're taking them to Disneyland for the first time (laughs). He was pretty stoked on the ideas I had, and from there, I flew out to his place a month later and we created this project.

How was it working with Jones?
I must say that working with Adam was like having your own personal comedian at your side 24/7. That dude is full one-liners and sarcasm. But, yeah, working with Adam was a great experience. Sometimes it can be difficult when you're working with a rider that doesn't really "get it" or seem to care that much about making a cool video, but Jones definitely got it.

From the second he picked me up at the airport, he was all about creating a game plan, hearing my ideas, giving me ideas on what he thought would be cool, etc. I mean, when we were discussing the narrative part of this, he never shied away from it -- in fact it was the opposite. We started writing his narrative at like, 9:30 p.m. and didn't call it quits until after 3:00 a.m. He literally wrote the entire thing, too. I was just lying on the couch and he was typing away and throwing out ideas, so it was rad. I just let him do his thing, and thankfully we were on the same page, so I didn't have to tell him this or that sucked, etc. He definitely killed it, and I can't thank him and his entire family enough for really opening up and exposing the life of an FMX rider like that!

What was the purpose of filming the video?
Man, I had a lot of reasons for wanting to create a project like this. I get really, really bummed out on the moto videos that are out there today, you know? Everything is the same, overplayed stuff and it gets tiring. Especially with FMX, I feel like a lot of people don't take these guys too seriously. People think all they do is hit a ramp, drink tons of beer, and party it up. Yeah, FMX doesn't exactly have the same training regime as racing Supercross and motocross, but at the level this sport is at today, you can't exactly be showing up to a contest hungover and expect to do well, or walk out of there in one piece.

I wanted to show that there is a different side to FMX and that you do have to be mentally and physically fit to be at the top of this sport. I also wanted to show the family aspect of it, too. I mean, a lot of these guys have a wife and kids at home and they support them by hitting a 75-foot ramp-to-dirt setup, flipping their motorcycle upside down, and almost taking all their limbs off at the same time. How gnarly is that? The margin for error is stupidly slim, the money isn't exactly the greatest, and the contest scene has been knocked down to almost nothing. But guys like Adam go through hell and back to do what they love and support their families. I just want people to watch this and realize that there is more to freestyle than we see in a lot of FMX films today, and that they are professional athletes doing something most of us would never consider.