📷 Brendan Lutes
“The next level is a pretty high level, you know? I’m begging to get the opportunity to get to do something that’s actually good …[and] even if you do get that opportunity, it’s usually crowded by someone who wants to play director. I’m desperate to find an opportunity where someone says, ‘Do your thing. Here’s money, go do it.'”
Far from home in the sun soaked terrain of California is Maryland native Patrick Evans, one of the latest to follow the industry out to its epicenter. Born in Annapolis, he was quickly relocated to the east coast in North Carolina, where he grew up riding and racing alongside the sport’s top stars of today like Jordon Smith and Cooper Webb. Though once he found himself at the Joe Gibbs Racing compound with a camera in his hands, his path soon changed. The itch to get on two wheels soon morphed into a desire to get behind the lens, and through a couple of opportunities along the way, Patrick has found himself beside some of the world’s biggest athletes in motocross, BMX, and even surfing. While by most measures successful, Patrick is still out there looking for his shot to prove just how talented he really is.
Discussion includes: Early success in motocross and freestyle BMX, his Dad’s involvement in the sport (including being James Stewart’s agent at one time), earning salary filming supercars at age seventeen, why motocross is one of the hardest sports to shoot, secrets to editing and color grading from his time spent with Metis Creative, and much more…
Patrick: Hello, this is Patrick.
World of Echo: Hey, what’s up man? It’s [World of Echo].
Hey, how’s it going?
Going good! You got time to bang this out?
Yeah, I’m just hanging out right now.
Awesome. I’m glad you agreed to come on call with such short notice. I’ve been playing catch up with my interview-to-post ratio lately.
No big deal, it’s pretty rare for me to do these things.
Let me step outside real quick, my friends are annoying. I don’t want them yelling in the background.
There we go. I’m actually at Malcolm McCassy’s house right now, just talking shit.
That’s funny, I’m working on a bigger project right now reviewing some footage from TGO and Mini Warriors. I actually have a few of the Mini Warriors VHS tapes right next to me!
That’s what we were just talking about, trying to get all of the old footage from Mini Warriors. Maybe try to do a reboot.
That’d be awesome!
Yeah, it’s just that tracking down two hundred hours worth of VHS footage is more fun to talk about than to actually do.
I could imagine …that just caught me off guard a little bit [that you’re with Malcolm right now]. You were out at Pala the other day filming with Axell Hodges?
Yeah, I only live like thirty minutes from there so if I go I’ll ride with Axell and those dudes. I’ll bring a camera every once in a while. Brian McCarty has been staying at our house for a little bit, and he decided to go out there so I went with him. Axell’s always there, so I just filmed those dudes.
I was going to ask if you ever get a chance to ride out there, but combing through your Instagram recently I saw that video of you coming up short off the freestyle ramp.
Yeah… that one got pretty popular. [laughs] On a 250 I could hit that ramp pretty good. I mean I’m not like a ramp guy, but on the 250 I was alright because you hit it third gear pretty wide open. But that day I wasn’t really gonna hit it because I was getting used to the 450, I had just gotten my Suzuki. So I was sitting there with John Sanders, Twitch, Axell, Nate [Adams], and Bilko. I was just going around the track, but I always park inside the freestyle area just to hang out with those dudes, and [John] comes up and goes, “Hey, are you gonna hit the ramp today!?”
I was like, “…you dick,” because he says it right in front of everyone, so I’m thinking, “now I’m going to…”
So I hit it clean twice, but it was the third time that I just cased the shit out of it. On the 450 the timing is a little different with the throttle and I went a little deep.
Yeah, you pretty much framed it!
I was fine though. I don’t know how I walked out of that one. Nate was right behind me, I think he was ready to have to set a femur straight.
Well I’m glad you rode out of it. I’ve got a handful of questions here I’d like to jump into right now though. I want to start with your origins. You’re from Annapolis, Maryland?
I was born there but I didn’t really grow up there, I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Right by JGR, pretty much. But yeah, from Annapolis. I’d rather say I’m from Maryland than North Carolina.
[laughs] Why’s that?
I don’t know man, it’s North Carolina. I was actually born right by Travis [Pastrana’s] house, my Dad and Travis used to ride together at Budds Creek. They weren’t really friends, but Travis was the local kid on the 60 killing it. So it was funny, I was born there and then this year I was back there again. I ended up working there, right where I was from.
Coming full circle.
[laughs] I guess.
Did you ride a lot as a kid?
I stopped riding when I was on 80’s, but yeah, I was pretty serious on 50’s and 65’s. I was really good locally, I won everything locally. I never really did big races but we grew up with Cooper Webb, Jordon Smith, they were always at local races. We kind of knew I stacked up pretty well on a national level. I don’t think I would’ve won a championship, but I would’ve been a top three dude I think, on 65’s and 50’s. I just got burnt out, I was over it. Around this time Ernesto [Fonseca] got hurt, we were kind of friends with him and after he became paralyzed my parents were thinking I should stop riding as well, but really I was burnt out. We had a track at my house that I’d ride on everyday, so yeah.
I kind of regret stopping though, I wish I would’ve kept going because now that I’ve moved out to California [I’m riding more]. I haven’t really ridden since I was ten, but now that I’m riding again all I can think is, “I should’ve just stuck with it and made some money.” You know, Cooper’s got a million dollar contract… probably should’ve just dealt with the burn out.
Maybe you wouldn’t have sacked yourself at Pala if you kept riding!
[laughs] No kidding.
What was it like riding on the east coast back in those days, in a time before that area became a hotbed for training facilities? Places like Club MX, Jimmy Weinert Training Facility, or South of the Border just below the state.
It was pretty much the same, it just hadn’t gotten the notoriety yet. It’s not Southern California, but still. We had Webb, McElrath, Cody Robbins was pretty fast as an amateur. I don’t know, it’s definitely different from SoCal. It’s a little more “rednecky” out there, [laughs] but it was cool. My Dad was also Stewart’s agent back in the day, so we got to go ride at Stewart’s house, which is a pretty notable east coast location. I got to ride Stewart’s house on a 50.
That must’ve been a little intimidating!
It was cool. He had a 110 supercross track, which was kind of perfect for a 50. I remember I tried to ride the outdoor track they have there on a Cobra. That track was so gnarly, I could barely even get around it.
Being that involved with racing at such a young age, what was it like to get picked for the KTM Challenge at Chase Field in ’06?
Oh, that little gem? Where’d you find that out?
‘Cause we raced it together!
You were at Phoenix!?
Yeah, dude! We battled! You don’t remember!? [laughs]
Oh! No… dude, I don’t remember that day because after the whole double/triple thing…
They told you that you couldn’t do it! (Patrick doubled one of the supercross triples on the KTM 50’s that were provided, then another rider tried to do it and crashed. So the KTM Challenge staff brought all of the parents in the rig and told them none of the kids were allowed to jump the double.)
I didn’t even give a shit about that main event, dude. I wanted to leave. My parents made me finish it, I just didn’t even care.
Patrick (7) and I (4, being photobombed by Villopoto) at the KTM Challenge. Photo by the late Steve Bruhn, 2006.
I wanted to bring that up because I found this poster-board collage my parents made from that trip. It has a few pictures from the event, and they even kept the rider entry list. This was after we both did the Racer X Film Festival in 2014, when I found it. (Patrick and I finished first and second in the festival that year.) I was tripping when I saw your name on the list!
You know what’s funny? I live with Vicki Golden and Kenny Bell, so we’ll always have people coming in and out. You know, supercross kids staying in a room for a week or two. Casey Brennan stayed there, he’s a privateer 450 rider, and we were driving to A1 from our house in Murrieta. Somehow the KTM Challenge came up, and he says, “I remember watching the KTM Challenge when I was a kid in Phoenix. I saw some kid hit the double and I thought that was so sick. I wanted to get a bike after that.”
I shot back, “Yo, that was me!” [laughs] That’s funny that it surfaces again all these years later.
That was cool though, the whole double/triple thing. And that Thunder Ralston kid… won’t forget his name! Wanted to lawn-dart it and ruin it for me.
Yeah, he bit his tongue or something when he crashed?
I remember seeing it out of the corner of my eye. The kid cased the triple.
I would’ve had no business jumping that. I was probably glad they told us we weren’t allowed to jump it.
I was bummed. I think I still have photos of me crying by the KTM rig.
So your Dad was Stewart’s agent at the time? Did he manage a bunch of riders?
He was a stock broker before [coming into motocross], but the first thing he did in motocross was the Chevy Trucks deal. So his first deal was getting Chevy Trucks to team up with Kawasaki. I guess from there he got to know Stewart. He was Stewart’s agent from ’03 to maybe ’06 or ’07. He was [Brett] Metcalfe’s agent as well at that time, and still is. Now he’s Cooper Webb’s agent. He also did the JGR deal as well, he started that in 2008 with Coy [Gibbs] and [Jeremy] Albrecht.
He’s really invested in the sport, it seems.
Yeah, in 2008 him and Coy got together and started the motocross team. He still works over there, but he’s starting to move more towards the NASCAR side of Joe Gibbs now.
Getting back to you a little bit, in addition to motocross you were a pretty avid BMX rider. Like a lot of people I’ve interviewed so far, you seemed to catch the action sports bug at a young age. Was being on the east coast a catalyst for getting involved in that scene? I know Greenville, North Carolina was once the spot where Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist were living and riding together.
I was like five hours from Greenville. After I got out of motocross my parents wanted me to race BMX, something a little safer. I did a couple BMX races but I got over that pretty quickly. You know, when you’re riding dirt bikes you’re riding BMX with your friends too, so we ended up turning the motocross track into BMX jumps. But I wouldn’t say being in North Carolina was really good for it. I was out in the middle of nowhere, so I had trails to ride, but the nearest skatepark was like an hour away. I made do with the backyard, but we eventually made a full resi and everything. I took BMX pretty serious, but it was the same thing with motocross, right when I got to the point where you could start to do something with it I was over it. I did Athen’s Jam, won the expert division in that, so I was pretty good. But same thing with motocross, just good enough to not do anything with it. [laughs]
While doing some research for the interview I found a video of you at the Gatorade Free Flow Junior Jam.
Way back in the day.
You’re hucking backflips and shit! I rode BMX a lot as well when I was a kid, like you said, being around motocross that’s something kids tend to do. We only ever dreamed of even trying to do stuff like that, though.
I got pretty good around when I was 13, then once it started getting a little gnarlier… dude, BMX is gnarly. Once you get to that point where you have to do your tricks over a twelve-foot box, you’re fully committing. It’s a little different from motocross, it’s almost gnarlier in a way. I could frontflip a box, I could three-sixty double whip a box, but at that point you’re just so in it. It’s not like motocross, where you have a little more forward momentum. If you eat it, you’ll be rolling. In BMX you’re coming down really hard and awkward on everything.
When I moved to California I got back into riding bikes, so I went to go ride Sheep Hills but it was rained out. There was this homeless dude that lives there and runs the trails, so I thought, “Yo, let’s get you some food or something.”
So I take this homeless dude and I’m riding through Huntington Beach to buy him some Carl’s Jr. Then he says, “I want to go to the Dollar Store.”
I’m like, “Alright! I’ll cruise with you,” because I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to ride [the trails], so I figured I’d ride around with this homeless dude, whatever. I popped a wheelie down the street, a big wheelie too, I’m probably doing close to twenty-five miles an hour… and I loop out. I put my leg down and, “Pop!” Folded my knee over. I’m laying there on the ground and the homeless dude rides over and goes, “Hey man, are you alright?”
“Yeah… I’ll just lay here for a minute.” I laid there for five minutes and got back up, I knew my knee was jacked but I could manage. I went to cross the street and I didn’t see this car pull onto the road, so I cranked on the pedals super hard to avoid getting hit and I popped my knee out again. Basically I had to ride three miles to my car, then drive home with a torn ACL/Meniscus. Now I don’t really ride BMX anymore because I’m afraid my knee would fall out!
But it’s not too bad for dirt bikes, you can still ride a dirt bike with a torn ACL. Vicki Golden doesn’t have one, she hasn’t had one for years. Just gotta roll with it.
“Just gotta roll with it.” Patrick and his fully functioning ACL pull a tuck no-hander under the sun. China Grove trails, 2016. Photo by Todd Nichols.
When did you first start to tinker with video?
The first thing I remember about video was my Dad filming some stuff for JGR on a camcorder, like a total piece of crap camcorder. He filmed some behind the scenes stuff for a photo shoot at JGR, which he had no business doing, I think he was just bored at the photo shoot. He was at home putting it together in like, Pinnacle Studio. I was always kind of around that stuff, though, I remember he would always have Photoshop up on his computer so I’d mess with that a little bit. The first thing I did was a JGR behind the scenes video, I did two of them. I shot some BMX videos by myself as well for practice, trying to figure out how to do new tricks. That’s kind of how it started.
From the beginning, were you always combining action sports with your video work?
It was all I cared about, you know? If you’re only around action sports that’s all you’re going to think about filming. It’s not like I thought, “Oh! I’ll film weddings!” I’m all around action sports, I’m going to film dirt bikes. All the movies you watch, Bar to Bar, Stone Spray Sandwich… you’re not really thinking about other avenues.
Almost like a product of the environment, in a way.
When did you start seeing you could get serious with video?
I don’t really… well, I guess I kind of take it seriously now.
There wasn’t a defining moment for you?
Well, I did a bunch of stuff for JGR and I was starting to get ok. I started shooting at GoPro Motorplex, it’s a Karting complex in North Carolina. I started shooting some people there and it turned out that some twelve-year old girl who karted there, her Dad was a dentist who owned this big [dental] practice and he reached out to me to film some dentistry stuff. He gave me a salary job at sixteen, so I was making pretty good money, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. That was sort of the start for me though, as far as doing something as a job.
You weren’t down with the dentist edits?
I mean, it was cool. I made money, you know? It’s not really what you dream about doing but, yeah. He was great to work with though, he helped get me going. I even still do some freelance stuff with him sometimes. From there I went into car dealerships, though. I don’t even remember how it happened, I think someone tagged me in a post on Facebook or something and this guy was looking for a video dude. He wanted to do a video on this Lamborghini Aventador exhaust system that this performance shop down the road from me made, so I went and shot that for like, four hundred bucks. Then the company that owned the Lamborghini hit him up and said they wanted a video kid, so I ended up working for this supercar dealership. They ended up offering me a salary job to film supercars all day so, obviously, am I going to work for a dentist or help sell supercars?
“I like Quentin Tarantino movies… it’s just a 35mm [lens] on a tripod. Nothing fancy going on. If you can make something that entertaining with just yourself and a camera, that’s what I like.”
That seems to be a pretty healthy market, the car industry.
Yeah, it is. It was good, I had a big office in there. I worked six days a week ten to seven, and I was seventeen. I was making salary and they’d let me take whatever supercar I wanted to lunch. It was pretty rad, but when you’re sitting in an office ten to seven everyday, six days a week at seventeen, you’re gonna get over that pretty quick.
I’d imagine having that sort of opportunity so young must’ve been pretty exciting.
It was definitely gnarly. Dude, that office was the size of most people’s garages or something, a two-car garage. It had a TV in there. I’d just edit a video real quick then hang out with my friends in the fab shop out back and shoot the shit. But after about six months… basically everything in my life happens in six month intervals. [laughs] After about five or six months I started watching that RED Collective series on YouTube, it’s all about people that shoot on RED. I remember watching the Mark Toia video and thinking, “I need to move to California now. I’m over this.”
Just one video clip later and you’re out!
The Mark Toia RED Collective video was kind of a game changer. That and “We Are Blood,” that made a big difference.
You’re a big Ty Evans fan?
Yeah, for sure. But I’ve always thought Ty Evans was rad, I remember watching “Yeah Right!” as a kid and thinking that was sick.
Yeah Right!, “Fully Flared” too…
I never even really watched Fully Flared until later on, but I remembered Yeah Right! being a Ty Evans video. Then We Are Blood came out and I just thought that was gnarly, because I felt that it was a relatable movie. A dude with a camera goes out and makes something. That’s not exactly what is was, but kind of.
Even the Hollywood movies that I like, I don’t like Star Wars or movies like that. I like Quentin Tarantino movies. Not just because it’s Quentin, well, because it’s Quentin but… it’s just a 35mm [lens] on a tripod. Nothing fancy going on. If you can make something that entertaining with just yourself and a camera, that’s what I like.
Did you see “The Hateful Eight” when it came out?
Yeah, I’ve seen it a bunch. I own it on 4K.
We didn’t get the full-on Roadshow viewing in Indiana, but it did play in 70mm about an hour away from my house.
I never got to see the 70mm showing, but…
I’m not much of a camera buff, so I couldn’t really say, “Oh yeah! I can really see the detail in the grain!” I’d be lying if I said [the 70mm showing] looked any different than most other movies.
It’s just the look of it, like I hate cameras where you can tell it’s like “X” camera. I can immediately tell if it’s a Panasonic camera and I hate it. Film cameras though, you can tell it’s film, but it’s fucking sick. When you can tell it’s a cheap digital camera, no. Not cool.
Are you big on specs? Is that something that’s really important to you, to know the in’s and out’s of a camera?
Like, as far as a camera having “X” megapixels or “X” amount of stops of dynamic range?
I mean yeah, I care, but at the end of the day… I feel like you can just tell by just looking at footage what the camera is all about. I definitely do care about specs, you know? I hate the GH4 and the GH5, because you can just look at it and tell [it’s a GH4 or GH5]. The original a7S, and even the a7S II that I love and use every day, you can kind of tell the way the flares work and stuff. I’m not a total specs guy, but maybe a little bit.
When you’re in the editing room with footage from say, your a7S II, are you trying to manipulate the footage so it doesn’t look like it came from that camera?
No, not really. I remember I shot at Milestone, and I just hate how Milestone looks on camera, all baked out. I did a little edit for [Justin] Starling just for fun, and I graded it kind of weird just to make it look different from every other Milestone video. Within reason though, you don’t want to be stupid and make the sky red, or some dumb shit like that. If it’s something that you see all of the time I’ll try to grade it a little differently. Even that Axell edit, I graded that one by putting a lot of blue in the shadows. You couldn’t really tell, but I try to grade it a little different than what every other Pala grade is. It’s not just contrast/saturation, I try to do a little bit to make it not look like every other Pala edit.
Differentiate yourself a little bit.
Some of the dirt I keyed more blue, less baked out. You can’t really tell, but, you know.
It’s not often I hear of anyone really going that in-depth with the way their footage looks, so that’s interesting to hear that you go to those lengths to put yourself in a different lane, even if it’s only minute changes.
I mean it’s more of just [a thing of] practice makes perfect. That video with Axell, no one cares about that. That’s not a good piece by any means. I mean, it’s fun to watch Axell throw whips, might as well use that to practice some stuff. I’ve been really into coloring stuff lately, messing around with that.
Going back to your earlier videos, I wanted to talk about some of the music you’ve used.
I’m afraid of what you’re going to bring up. [laughs]
A lot of your early work contains electronic music, or music of that variety. Did you think that music just suited your style of shooting during that time?
I will say, electronic music was pretty popular at the time. [laughs] I still like electronic music, but I feel like that type of music is really easy for a kid to edit to. It’s such a clear beat, it’s very obvious what the music is doing energy-wise. There’s never a weird tempo change you have to work around, you know what I mean? It’s actually really good music to edit to, not as a finished product to watch, but as far as learning to edit it’s pretty good for that.
I want to say that if I tried to edit back then to something that I edit to now, I wouldn’t be able to. I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. I don’t know. Axell’s video, I just wanted to edit to something that I know people will love.
That was that Primitives song, right?
I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of electronic music, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that you’re editing to different stuff. I thought that was a sick song.
That’s what I care about now, finding something that everyone is going to think is sick. No one is going to hate on that [Primitives] song, everybody loves that song. You forgot about it, but you still love it.
I feel that even for kids who are just starting out filming and editing, they tend to jump around genres a little bit. You were very adamant on the electronic and dubstep music.
I definitely was. I still think you can do sick stuff with it, but like I said it’s just easy to edit to, easy to learn with. I think it’s really hard to pick a song, though. If you’re watching The Hateful Eight, that section in the carriage where they start moving and the music plays for a minute, you would have no idea what to put in there. It’s really hard to pick a song that captures the exact emotion you’re going for.
I think having a Hollywood production level movie would really complicate things, as far as music goes. Those types of productions have a lot more elements to them than a motocross video. I feel you have a bit more freedom to shape your video around music in motocross than in Hollywood.
For me personally, music is such a big part of it… it stops me from making videos a lot. When I’m a kid I’m just picking dubstep, I don’t care. I like this song, I’ll pick it. But now, I’m worried about what people are going to think, I don’t want to deal with the bullshit of, “Oh, this song sucks!” Or, whatever. I have a bunch of footage from Pala with Axell and a bunch of other dudes, I was going to do a little edit but I spent three hours listening to different music and just couldn’t find anything I liked. I’d throw a song in the sequence and start editing only to think, “This isn’t working.” Music is kind of annoying to me, almost.
Hang on, can I call you back in like, ten minutes?
Yeah, that’s fine.
Yeah, sorry about that.
All good. I wanted to ask you about JGR, you were around their facilities quite a bit doing video work over the years. Any funny or interesting stories from those times?
It was all pretty boring stuff, really… *long pause* Yeah, I wouldn’t say there’s really anything interesting that happens over there, actually. [laughs] I can’t think of one good story!
Damn! Shot down.
You just show up, shoot, and go home pretty much. Everyone is just working there.
Last year we did the photo shoot, that was actually a cool one. They did the Toyota shoot for their commercial that year. We were there all night, and Toyota got lights for the track and everything so we could shoot at night. I got to shoot in between the Toyota takes, so that was cool. It was cool just being able to see the commercials being filmed there.
I think I remember that one. It has the kid walking out of the woods?
Yeah, it doesn’t really make any sense. [laughs]
Just some random kid walking out of the woods, then, “Oh hey! A supercross track!”
Yeah, it was supposed to be like a dream sequence. I didn’t really follow it but, it was still cool to see it being made. They had a [RED] Carbon Dragon there, not that that’s like super overkill, but it was cool. Garth Milan was there, we hung out a bit and he was super cool. He gave me lenses to go play around with during the shoot.
Your most popular upload on YouTube is Justin Barcia’s 2017 team preview video. Could you talk about that a little bit? What equipment were you running?
I was on an a7S II, a Ronin-MX, and I mostly shot that with a [Canon] 24-70mm L II and a 70-200mm MK I L. Usually they’re just doing motos so I just go out and film. They’ll do three ten minute motos, or something. So it’s not really like you get to say, “Oh, do this or do that.”
I’d just go out and shoot with them, I’ve never really gotten to tell them what to do and get the shots I want.
So you don’t command any of that at all?
No, all of my videos at JGR they’re just doing practice laps. I’m just out there trying to do the best I can. It kind of sucks.
I would’ve imagined they’d give you some room to play, at least a little bit. The nature of video is that things aren’t really as they seem. You gotta be able to say at times, “Next time you hit this berm, don’t even worry about riding out. We’ll still get the shot.”
I’ve never really gotten to do much of that with JGR. Dude, those guys don’t care at all about their videos, or being in the video. Justin and I got to be pretty good friends, so I could get Justin to do some little stuff. I’d be like, “Hey, go whip that real quick,” and he’d do it for me. For the most part, those dudes don’t give a shit about you. They just want to do their practice laps and go home. I mean, they’re cool, don’t get me wrong. Everyone’s nice at JGR, but they’re not there to make a video.
They’re just putting in the time to go win some races.
The photo shoots have a little more leniency, just because they’re there all day, bored. Garth was taking photos so he’d say, “Hey, hit this berm.” All of the best stuff I’ve shot of motocross is at photoshoots, because it’s more like what you were saying, “Hit this berm for the photo.” I’ll just sit there and shoot around them. Obviously I can’t go wherever I want, because they’re taking photos. That’s as close as you get to shooting what you want.
You’re crushing my perception here, man! Here I am thinking you’re on these rad shoots with all these riders…
The videos would be a lot better if I could get what I want. It’s kind of frustrating with action sports stuff like that, you never get to do that. Then if you do, it’s usually led by a director or someone who wrecks it anyway.
While World of Echo focuses more on the motocross side of things, I can’t ignore your history with cars. One of your other most popular uploads comes from a car video. I wanted to know if you approach shooting cars differently than you do moto.
It’s definitely different. I think motocross is one of the hardest sports to make a good video with. Even compared to something like mountain biking, you could make a way sicker mountain bike video than you can a dirt bike video. Dirt bikes are tough man, especially with sound effect stuff. No one gets sound effects right on dirt bike videos. Car stuff, you can do whatever you want. Mountain bike stuff you can pretty much replicate it exactly. Even if you watch Dirt Shark, that GOAT Farm 2 video with Carmichael on a two-stroke. I wouldn’t say they did a bad job, but you can just tell it’s fake. And that’s people trying pretty hard to get it right, and they can’t even do it. But car stuff, it’s kind of like dirt bikes in that there’s only so much you can do. It’s just a car. There’s really only one way to shoot a wheel, you can shoot it the best possible way but you’re still just shooting a wheel. It’s more like, here’s the list of ways you can shoot a wheel, go shoot them and try to get the best background or lighting that you can.
I like that you brought up sound within motocross videos. My buddy and I, we laugh every time at that, uh…
Yup! The two-stroke…
He’s suddenly on a two-stroke going up to the triple?
[laughs] They got it right in the beginning of the commercial! Later on they fuck it up.
I don’t know how they missed that, honestly. It really confuses me. I’ve done some pretty high-end stuff, and we’ve watched this [Giant bikes] video [we made] so many times. We (Patrick and Metis Creative) did the “Giant Bikes Factory Team Intro” and sent the audio to Keith White. He did “The Fourth Phase,” We Are Blood, pretty much every RedBull video. Anyway, he sent us the audio for the Giant video, just the complete audio track. We watched the finished product to that Giant video a thousand times. I could not take it anymore, seeing that video. If I go back now and watch it I just can’t stand it, I hate it. I don’t know how that slipped through Oakley with that Tomac commercial. Other than that it’s such a sick commercial, though. They crushed that. That’s the type of stuff you get when you have the power to direct a rider and have a say in what to do, which is why I was so stoked to be working on this movie with Colton Haaker. That’s the only time I’ve been able to say what I want and get the shots I want.
“I mean, I’m creative and [Colton’s] creative, so it’s kind of difficult sometimes. We were kind of going at it, tensions were high on that set, working until three A.M. three days in a row.”
I know you’ve shot stuff with Colton before…
This hasn’t come out yet, this movie. I’m not really working on it anymore, unfortunately. I lived with Colton Haaker for three or four months, I met him at Pala one day. I was living in Irvine at the time and I wanted to move out to the Inland Empire area near all of the test tracks, so I ended up living with him. He’s a creative dude, he has his vlog series and everything. He’s super into video, he loves watching DEATHGRIP, all of Semenuk’s stuff. He’s a huge Semenuk fan. He’s really into good video, which is cool, because a lot of the time… people are into video but they’re not into good video, but Colton really appreciates good filmmaking.
He wanted to make a movie. He had most of the idea but I kind of took them to paper, so him and I wrote this movie. He pitched it to Rockstar, and I think they’re going to fund it, but even before we got funding we had to go shoot the opening round of Super Enduro in Poland. He paid for my flight and we flew out to Poland, shot a bunch of race footage for the movie.
Then we had this thing going where I wrote a nightmare sequence [for the movie]. I was really into Stranger Things, so I really wanted to have a Stranger Things section, I wanted to have a monster in the movie. Colton was kind of apprehensive about it but I insisted, “Dude, I can pull it off! We can do this.”
I mean, I’m creative and he’s creative, so it’s kind of difficult sometimes. He definitely knows what a good video is but, you know how it is when you’re a video guy working with someone who isn’t necessarily a video guy. Their ideas, they’re “correct,” but it doesn’t work “X” way. I mean, I’m hardheaded as well. On this particular project I was so passionate, because it was my first time to be able to direct everything, so I didn’t want to change anything. I was willing to listen to ideas but at the end of the day I know what’s going to look good. I still stand by that, anything I say is going to look good.
[Because of that] we ended up butting heads a little bit. We did this shoot for the nightmare sequence at night, and we had Steve Haughelstine come out with his RED/Ronin bike setup. Eric from Tempt Media came out so we had all of the monitoring in the truck and everything. Jimmy Bowron came out as well to help film, Tanner Yeager was doing photos, we had a pretty solid crew.
Colton was spending some money, we got some lights out there, a fog machine… we were supposed to have stadium lights but we ended up getting flood lights, [laughs] so we had three flood lights and a generator to light his entire backyard with. So right away we were struggling a little bit, but it was good, we got some rad stuff for the nightmare sequence. It was basically what I was talking about earlier, but now we have four creative people who all know what they’re talking about, but each has their own ideas [on how to do things]. We were kind of going at it, tensions were high on that set, working until three A.M. three days in a row. We got some rad stuff, but I don’t think I’ll be too involved in the rest of that project. [laughs]
Patrick and Colton Haaker burning the midnight oil, 2018. Photo by Tanner Yeager.
But Colton’s a rad dude, him and I get along awesome when we’re just hanging out. I’m just too hardheaded and we’re both creative, so I don’t think we work together too well. If they finish that movie, it’ll be rad. It’s going to be a bitch to edit, though. That’s where a lot of the fighting was coming from, because I was really pushing for the shots to look amazing raw. If it didn’t look awesome raw, it’d terrible when we were done. You’re trying to film a monster in a motocross movie, that’s not going to be easy to pull off, so I was very weary of that. I was trying so hard to make sure everything looked perfect. I was willing to spend three hours on one shot just to make sure it looked good. Everyone was like…
They’re all thinking, “Just do it in post!” [laughs]
I just had it pictured in my head a certain way that it would look good. When you get an idea thrown out there that isn’t exactly what you’re picturing it kind of throws a wrench in everything. Next thing you know we’re all arguing for thirty minutes over how to shoot the next shot.
You almost wish you could take what you see in your head and just project it.
That’s the problem, you have to explain to everyone how you’re picturing it, then they have to explain to you how they’re picturing it. Really stressful stuff. On a Hollywood set, whatever Spielberg says goes, you know? [laughs] We were all working on that project as equals, no one had the lead.
It’d be like having four Spielberg’s going at it.
Yeah, all just fighting each other.
So that’s something that will potentially come out?
I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s going to be a beast to work on, but hopefully it does. We got some pretty cool footage so I’d love to see what they can do with it. I don’t even have any of that footage anymore.
The majority of the stuff you’ve shot seems to be heavily rooted in client work. How often do you get out and just film for the fun of it?
I just can’t justify it anymore, it’s not worth it. I’ve gotten to a point now where like, yeah, the Barcia video is good, but now I think it sucks. I think everything I’ve made sucks.
You’ve grown a lot as a filmmaker.
It’s justifying… like, I need the Colton thing. I need someone that’s willing to be up until three A.M. to get the exact shot that I want for me to think I actually made something cool. That Barcia video is not cool, the team intro isn’t cool, it’s just a kid with a camera at a dirt bike track. The amount of time that it’d take for me to make something that I actually care about, it’s not worth going out for free and doing it, unless I have a really good opportunity. I might shoot with Weston Peick next week at Suzuki during sunset at their test track. That is something that I’ll do for free, but for the most part it’s not worth going out and doing something for free. Or even four hundred or six hundred bucks anymore.
I feel like you reach a point with your filmmaking where the next level is so high that you need to have “X” amount of resources just to be adequate. And even then you never know, it could still turn out bad.
The next level is a pretty high level, you know? I’m begging to get the opportunity to get to do something that’s actually good, but it’s so rare for that to come up. And like I said, even if you do get that opportunity, it’s usually crowded by someone who wants to play director and they don’t know what they’re talking about. You argue with them and then it turns out shit. I’m desperate to find an opportunity where someone says, “Do your thing. Here’s money, go do it.”
But you put that off and just go do corporate work. It’s way easier for me to just do so-and-so for three grand a day that’s just point-and-shoot interview stuff, than to get Axell to come out for no money and shoot for three days during sunset at Pala. That’s not going to happen. The level [that we were talking about earlier], in motocross, it’s so low. It’s scary. Not to knock anyone in particular, but it’s just that some people should be holding themselves to a way higher level.
I’ll agree with that.
Not that anyone’s bad, it’s just that they don’t try. I mean, I’m part of the problem. I don’t care. [laughs] Like that Axell video, I didn’t really try, but it’s just hard to justify the effort that is needed to go into something that’s really good.
I see some stuff and think, “That guy is getting paid to do that?”
Yeah, but that guy is not getting paid shit. That guy is getting paid four hundred bucks. Companies don’t care in moto, the only companies that care are Fox and Oakley and they have in-house deals. But as far as like, Transworld goes? Here’s two hundred dollars and Maeda’s GoPro, go shoot something. They’re not out to make a big production, but still.
I saw on their site they posted an Instagram edit. It was on YouTube, but it was clearly made for Instagram, and I just thought, “this is what it has come to?”
They posted the “Durham vs. Bell” video either this morning or yesterday, and it was ok, but it’s like… every shot is a 50mm. Like, you know a Ronin is not the way to shoot from five hundred feet away at Glen Helen. That’s not the way you shoot that. Use it for a couple of clips then throw it on a tripod with the 200mm. That’s a key thing, changing lenses and setups, that’s how you get production quality. Dirt bike videos in general are lazy.
I’m always juggling lenses. I’ll try to switch it up, shoot something on a fisheye…
I’ll put a 50mm and an 85mm on a Ronin, so you have to get everything twice. Then you have to get it on a tripod, long lens. Then you should get everything handheld on a 35mm. You basically have to do every shot five times to have a good mix to cut between. That’s time consuming shit, especially if you have one camera.
And a lot of times you’re just alone.
Yeah, I’m always alone. I never hire anyone, really.
The motocross industry is pretty fucked for filming.
[laughs] No kidding.
Mountain biking is way better, wish I could be in the mountain bike game.
I noticed on your website, and we mentioned earlier, you did the Giant Bikes Factory Team Intro.
I just edited it, Metis Creative shot it. Cameron Baird, Clay Porter, John Reynolds, and John Anastocio. Those dudes are awesome.
How’d you get hooked up with those guys? I remember a brief exchange we had on the MXS forums where you told me they filmed that Cole Seely video for RedBull.
Yeah, they did the RedBull video with Cole at Zaca Station. Cameron did a photo shoot with JGR back in the day and I’d always be hanging out there and filming. I think it was 2015 maybe, he hit me up and asked me to film a behind the scenes video for them. He sent a RED out for me, and that was the first time I shot on a RED. He basically said, “Here, practice with this. We’ll be there in a week.” So I shot a little behind the scenes video.
It was alright, nothing special. I started working with the car dealership and everything, then like a year later I re-edited that video and sent it to Cameron. I said, “Here you go. I re-edited this because it kind of sucked before.”
And he replied, “Now it’s sick. That level of progression is awesome.”
We had a nice exchange. Then Wienerschnitzel, my buddy Rico worked there, he hit Cameron up to go shoot something but all of his guys were shooting somewhere else. So I guess Rico said, “What about Patrick?”
Cameron set that up with Rico, then I flew out to California for the first time to shoot a charity event Wienerschnitzel did along with some stuff at San Diego supercross. That was the first time I shot something for Wienerschnitzel, the first time I did something under Metis Creative… so that’s kind of how all of that got started.
“I flew out here and just showed up at his door, ‘Did I not tell you I was staying out here and that I could stay at your house for a month?’
He’s at the door, ‘Nah, you didn’t.’
And I go, ‘Well… I’m here!'”
Soon enough you were living in Cali full-time.
It wasn’t like I had a job lined up, though. It was definitely kind of risky. [laughs] But I went out for Wienerschnitzel two or three more times, went to Vegas to do some events for them, they were a pretty awesome client. I did the Mint 400 last year, that was pretty cool.
Were the guys at Metis a big proponent in getting you out to California?
Yeah, definitely. I knew Cameron would hire me for some stuff if I stayed in North Carolina, but I figured it’d be a lot more likely if I lived in California, same thing with Wienerschintzel. I actually forgot to tell Rico that I was moving out here. For some reason I thought I texted him, but I didn’t. I flew out here and just showed up at his door, “Did I not tell you I was staying out here and that I could stay at your house for a month?”
He’s at the door, “Nah, you didn’t.”
And I go, “Well… I’m here!” I just showed up, moved to Laguna Beach and paid $1,850 a month for a studio that was like three hundred square feet, but I was getting some Metis stuff. They’re based in San Jose which is pretty far from Southern California, so I flew up there to edit the Giant video. I learned so much from those dudes. And Clay Porter at the time, he was editing DEATHGRIP, and I just learned so much. I definitely stepped up a lot from that. I haven’t really put out a video since learning all of the stuff I’ve gotten from them, so that’s what I’m waiting for, is to make a video that is actually up-to-date with what I’m capable of.
What were some important things that you picked up from those guys?
Organization. The way they edit and send files and folders out. They’re so anal about it, and now I am too, but yeah. It’s the way they organize their folders and projects, bringing all of their footage into a timeline and dropping it into a sequence, going through every single clip and pulling out selects. Making a new timeline for just selects, putting every single rider into this timeline, every type of shot into this timeline… Dude I spent a week organizing, then another week reorganizing just Giant footage before editing. It’s miserable, but that’s how they do it.
You have to stay on top of that stuff though, because once it gets out of hand it’s hard to rein it back in.
There’s no getting out of hand now, not with that method. It’s miserable to learn at first, even miserable to do still. If you’re having fun going through your edits, you’re not doing it right. I learned a lot about color there too from Cameron, he’s an amazing photographer.
That’s one thing I think I’ve never gotten a handle on, is color. I don’t understand it at all.
I feel like everyone feels that way, I know that’s how I felt too. The thing about color is that there isn’t really much to it. I feel like kids think they need to learn how to use this knob and that knob and then go through this color wheel. That’s not how you do color, color is just correction. Touch the shadows a little bit, touch the contrast, maybe a little saturation. There’s no secret thing, it’s more about matching shots and getting a feel throughout [the video]. Color is not like editing, where you can just go nuts and it’ll somehow work. I think that’s why you think you don’t have a handle on it, but you do. It’s just not that complicated. [laughs] At the end of the day it’s just contrast and saturation, really.
With the Metis guys though, you basically apprenticed with them. I’ve never really had an in-depth relationship like that with someone in the field. I’m in the dark, in a sense.
Cameron had DaVinci [Resolve] up, and basically all he did was crank the contrast and saturation and then maybe a slight tint adjustment to get the skin tones right. If you’re really getting crazy, he didn’t do a vignette, he did a contrast vignette. He really just matched up shots. If you have one scene, every shot in that scene needs to be matched up perfectly. Everything needs to be going off the same preset, basically.
With all of the work you’re getting now through Metis and other clients like Stance, is it important for you to find time to keep riding?
Yeah, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t [important to me]. I actually want to try to do a national next year, just to say I did it. I think I’ll be moving back to North Carolina here in a couple of months to work on a start-up production company, so I don’t know if riding will take a back seat or not. I’ll be by JGR again so I could just ride there but, you know. It’d be better if I could just not ride, but then you start getting quick again and it’s like, “Damn it.”
The faster you go the more it sucks [to give it up].