How to make a bike trial in your back garden
With plans of a filmed road-trip through Greece scuppered by coronavirus lockdown, Cut Media opted for a more low-key execution - a microsized demo in inhouse creative Jonny Ashworth's yard. We spoke to creative director Scott Marshall about getting crafty at home.
We haven't been short of spots filmed at home for the past few months, but the creative endeavour from end-to-end content studio Cut Media wheelie [sorry] stood out.
Forced to rethink their plans of a road trip through Greece starring some of Santa Cruz’s top athletes including Danny MacAskill and Josh Lewis due to the COVID lockdown, the team soon came to the idea of shooting with a miniature replica model of the 5010 bicycle in the back garden of inhouse creative Jonny Ashworth.
Filled with fantastic models and mini-sets, as well as Ashworth's remarkable finger-cycle skills, Get Creative With Your Surroundings is a hugely enjoyable romp and a shining example of how at-home shooting can me more than just screen-capped Zoom meetings.
We caught up with Cut Media creative director Scott Marshall to find out how they came to the idea, how it was executed and what Ashworth's digits are up to next.
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Scott Marshall - Creative Director, Cut Media
What was the original concept for the film? When did you realise you would have to improvise?
To begin with, based on the original conversations with the client the film always had to be centred around the creativity that the 5010 brought to the individual rider or end-user and reflect how they would use it to express themselves - for example, Danny MacAskill and Josh Lewis, two of the most creative riders around right now have adopted this bike as their bike of choice (the full-sized one not the mini one).
We did the launch film of the first 5010 back in 2012 with a rider called Steve Peat up in Torridon, where the bike was positioned as more of an adventure bike since then however it’s very much found its feet as a fun almost play bike in many ways.
Creating a toy bike was one of those ideas that was so far left we had to just throw it out there and see if it stuck.
So with Santa Cruz repositioning the bike in the market we really wanted to have 'creativity' remain as the central narrative in all aspects of the film. The original concept was a road trip through Greece, bringing all the Santa Cruz athletes and having them showcase their own individual talents and interpretations of what the 5010 can do, overall keeping it very athlete-centric.
But then obviously the pandemic hit and travelling became really hard so it was back to the drawing board to re-address how we were going to approach the film and what it in a way had to now mean.
What were the first steps? What were the conversations with the client like?
The mini bike. Creating a toy bike was one of those ideas that was so far left we had to just throw it out there and see if it stuck, but immediately the crew over at Santa Cruz loved it. We’ve been working with them for a long time now so there is a good level of mutual confidence and understanding of what's needed beyond a technically well-shot film.
Fortunately for us one of our creatives Jonny Ashworth, as it turns out, has quite a following in the finger skateboard community...something he kept quite close to his chest until this point.
Our main priority really was to make sure we presented both the product and the brand in a really credible way - Mountain Biking like a lot of sports has a really ‘core’ and vocal following. Fortunately for us one of our creatives Jonny Ashworth, as it turns out, has quite a following in the finger skateboard community...something he kept quite close to his chest until this point.
The next steps were, first of all, making sure we could a) get a legitimate scale model of the bike and b) translate Jonny’s finger skateboard prowess to a bike and then shoot some tests in his back garden. As it turns out all were very easy to realise, Santa Cruz loved the test tapes and the project was on.
What sort of prep did the shoot require? Did you realise you had such model-making prowess?
With a bit of Instagram stalking, we found a model maker (@timchenko.taras) who we bought the test bike from and reached out to see if it would be possible to create the bike(s) for the film.
That was the coolest thing about the whole project - we literally had to build everything
We thought that would be pretty difficult given the fact we were pretty pushed for time to deliver the project but he knocked out the park.
After that came the sets, and the challenge of making them look as credible as possible with a quality that didn't look like a gimmick or something we’d just quickly pulled together in a back garden. With the creative input of everyone at the studio involved in the project, bouncing about online on various methods of digital communication we pulled everything together to a result we’re pretty pleased with.
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How was the shoot? How long did it take?
Our heritage as a company is in the cycling industry; we came from the mountain bike community so we had/have a pretty multi-faceted and deeply rooted understanding of how that bike should ride, look and feel. The riding is only one part of the project, not to detract from Jonny’s dextrosinistral talents or indeed limit him just to them. The overall creative agility demonstrated by the team during this project was unbelievable, from the building of the sets to the way shot, for me, that was the coolest thing about the whole project - we literally had to build everything.
The hardest part was representing the bike, the riding and the brand correctly.
Start to finish the shoot took us around eight weeks, from hitting the go button to the release. Almost half of that was entirely building bikes, sets and coming up with a shot list; the other half was really just spent shooting, editing and negotiating music rights.
What was the toughest thing to get right?
The hardest part was representing the bike, the riding and the brand correctly - it was always going to be a bit of a fine line between pulling it off successfully or becoming a gimmick. But I think in trending that fine line carefully we’ve made something that actually appeals to a much broader audience than the just core or the initial target - of course, it appeals to them too.
There is a ‘whip’ in the 'Vegetable Patch Jump Park' section that is just so good and done so well, any rider watching thinks 'this hand rides better than I can'.
Given that we shot this middle to late April, the ‘lockdown’ presented more practical challenges however we were lucky in that Jonny and his brother Andy who also is part of our creative team could shoot with our own equipment in an environment that did not compromise on safety, with me chiming in on facetime.
But, really, with the majority of our clients are in different time zones we’re so used to working remotely and communicating digitally, so throughout the project that the situation didn't really affect us that much. Other than the fact that I or anyone else from the studio could physically be there.
What's your favourite moment of the film? Why?
It’s really cliche to say but there are loads of really fun moments that we said would be really cool to make happen that we did manage to create.
For me, though, there is a ‘whip’ in the 'Vegetable Patch Jump Park' section that is just so good and done so well, any rider watching thinks 'this hand rides better than I can'.
Shed inception is pretty cool too, I love the chainsaw…
The sound design is amazing as it’s what in a way makes the film legitimate.
The sound design is amazing as it’s what in a way makes the film legitimate, using real sound effects to create the sounds in your head as if you were playing with the bike yourself - it really made that little world come to life.
Those are some nifty digits Jonny has. What sport will he attempt with them next?
Well I can’t speak for Jonny, his diamond digits are in pretty high demand now, but we work across loads of different sports so maybe we’ll see him star in some motorsport or football or something.
What's up next for you guys?
We’ve got a couple of cool releases coming up with Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi and a really cool VR product we’ve created.
Summer is always super busy for us with the cycling brands so really from now we’re shooting back to back really for the rest of the summer.
Other than that, we're developing a really exciting motorsports documentary, but I can’t say too much more on that...