As the decade comes to a close, we’ve witnessed our world shrink bit by bit, non-coincidentally parallel to the maturing age of the internet and data-based communications. In less words: we see more shit, faster, and easier. With the flick of a finger, phones light up and stimulation is instantaneous. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, Pinterest… there are dozens of poisons to pick from. It’s this shift that I believe has nearly defined the decade, and I’ve spoken about it plenty with filmmakers around the globe. I wouldn’t blame you one bit for tiring of these muses. However, this shift is something that affects every working filmmaker today, and is considered in every filmmaker’s move tomorrow.
It’s also one of the reasons I’m talking about Dog Days.
Dog Days by Elliot Phelps defies its contemporaries in construction, presentation, and distribution, breaking away from the script of success written by content creators throughout the 2010’s. The half-hour feature length film was uploaded to YouTube on November 29, 2019 under the creator’s namesake, and boasts nothing more than a forgettable thumbnail, title, and vague description: “yuut.” Elliot’s channel has acquired no more than 64 subscribers (at the time of writing), and is categorized under “People & Blogs.”
I found no promotion for this video, other than on Elliot’s personal Twitter and Instagram accounts, where he talks in the past-tense about a premiere he held for the film somewhere in the northeast. And from scarce accounts, it sounds like it wasn’t one to miss.
There’s no clickbait, no filler, no bullshit talking-to-the-camera pretending anyone cares about your day. It’s unapologetically a good film; a refreshing presentation in a digital world built on harvesting the most clicks. It’s clear Elliot did this for nobody other than himself and his friends. It’s that intention that demands respect, knowing well that if he pasted a photo of some chick’s ass on the cover, titled it “HOT CHICK CRASHES PIT BIKE [EXPLICIT 18+ ONLY],” he could very well have increased his subscriber count ten-fold.
Thumbnail-worthy? You decide.
From its opening, sampling various dog-related movie and music references from “The Hangover” to Baha Men, Dog Days is representative of many a mid-2000s motocross flick. Big whips, big crashes, random skits, and hot chicks. The title font is even reminiscent of Alpinestars’ The Beginning (2004). In general though, it’s a preview of what’s to come and delivers on all fronts. A gonzo look into the lives of New England’s rowdiest pockets of two-wheeled mayhem.
Not to spoil the entire film, I’ll summarize some noteworthy bits.
After warming up for the winter at Florida’s hotspots like Pax Trax and Tampa MX, the crew hits the sands of The Wick: MX-338, the first of many appearances for the Southwick locale. Lots of heavy hitters like Chris Canning, Mike Hacia, and Carrie Davis. The energy of the racing is palpable, and for anyone outside of the area, it looks like an absolute blast.
Personally, the man who stole the show for me was Joe Tait, #962. The lanky Yamaha rider oozes the seemingly-lost style of holding it wide open and hoping for the best. In a sea of calculated and regimented riders, robotically mulling over the best position for their clutch perch, Joe stands out as someone who would take out their own Grandmother to win a local 250 Pro Purse. It makes for some of the best footage in the entire video, and for that I thank him.
If Joe Tait is the best rider in Dog Days, the “Summer Shenanigans,” segment might just be the most entertaining. Nearly indistinguishable from early Nitro Circus releases, this partying and mayhem bit helps bring the film to its eventual close. Pit bike brawling, babes on the boat, beer at the lake, radically unsupervised inner tubing, and snowmobiling in the middle of summer… it’s classic MX entertainment.
On top of it all, the soundtrack is absolutely spot-on. The Vandals, Chiddy Bang, Goldfinger, and more bring the frequencies. I was especially fond of the use of Agent Provocateur’s “Red Tape,” a subtle nod to Ryan and Tyler Villopoto in GromAgeddon.
This all my come across as long-winded, a bit over the top… if it seems that way, it’s probably because it is. The amount of time and effort put into half an hour of video, regardless of the equipment, crew, or subject matter, is a major undertaking. Dog Days is chock full of skits and spur-of-the-moment interludes that can only come from studying hours and hours of film. Cutting and rendering not included. As Elliot pointed out on his Instagram, the damn thing took almost two days just to upload.
Major props to Elliot and the entire New England MX scene, you guys killed it. Thanks for closing out the decade by reminding us that there’s still a pulse in this little scene we all live and breath… Now quit looking at a screen and go ride.