Interviews Videos

Quizzing England’s Reece Gregory

Back with a vengeance after an honorable mention in 2021's festival, Reece Gregory clawed his way to the top step of the podium in just his second attempt. With help from the UK's fiery youth, Gregory expands on his craft to a chorus of praises. The music is just beginning in England.

In 2022, Kid Cudi went on tour in support of his new album Entergalactic. It was his first tour since 2017’s Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’, and his appearance at The O2 in London on November 15th would mark his first visit to the UK in 13 years.

In the attendance that night was Reece, eagerly waiting the arrival of one of his favorite acts. Though the night was unforgettable, his remarks on the evening were minute details of the mundane; a chance glimpse at passerby on the Tube left him feeling despondent.

“Everyone looked so grey. Nobody was talking to each other. I’m not even sure there were any real people in there, just robots getting wherever they needed to go.”

And there was Reece, another hopeful kid watching the lab rats run the maze, each one as lost as the last, unperturbed by the world at large: a classic observation through the lens of youthful sentiment. Mr. Gregory had wisely been harboring that energy with him earlier in the year, as he documented the amateur scene in England, and underscored his festival entry with a reminder that we all need to climb the walls of the maze and dance while the music is still playing. Maybe it’s the tune of Scott Mescudi bellowing throughout the O2. Maybe rats don’t actually know how to dance? Perhaps I’ve gone off the deep end.

Reece is a good kid, and he’s your winner in the Long Form division of our 2022 Film Festival.

World of Echo: What’s going on, Reece? You on winter break?

Reece Gregory: I’m just flat out filming right now, no school or nothing.

That’s sick.

It’s good and bad, you know? Winters get pretty rough!

I could imagine. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Nah, it’s fine!

I have to congratulate you on winning the festival this year! How’d you feel about it all?

It was pretty sick! Awesome feeling after coming up short in 2021. I took the notes I got from the judges last year and learned from that before I even started filming this year.

You were the honorable mention last year in the Long Form division, and I’m wondering if that at all motivated you to come back for more this year?

Yeah, yeah. Definitely. I stayed up late last year to catch the festival live, and it was such a bummer to come up just shy of the podium! I wanted to try again and do better.

You definitely heeded the judges’ words and made it happen. That was cool to see. – You’re in a little moto hub right now it would seem? Not far from Doncaster, Kieradan, or Fat Cats…

That’s why I’m at Fat Cats so often now, it’s only a 35 minute drive from my house.

Fat Cats Beach by Reece.

You used to live in Alfreton though, right?

I moved up here to Doncaster last September. It’s ideal if you want to ride all the time, but other than that there’s nothing else to do up here! To be fair, even in Alfreton there’s not much to do.

So you moved to be closer to the tracks?

No, my parents moved up here and I’m still living with them so I got dragged along.

What do your mom and dad do?

My mom does accounting and bookkeeping, and my step-dad is a woodworker. Nothing to do with bikes or cameras.

Your step-dad didn’t ride when he was younger?

Nah, I got into it through my three older brothers. The oldest one started doing it, and soon after all us younger kids were obsessed too.

How did the eldest get into it?

I think one of his friends got into it when they were around 13 or 14. The second oldest got a bike soon after and those three went racing loads. Once the last of us got bikes, my mom was kind of over it so we didn’t travel as much, but we started back up again once we could drive ourselves. The oldest ones are way better than us… only on the bikes though!

“I originally went to engineering school, but all during class I would be daydreaming of songs that I could make edits to.”

Do your parents support what you’re doing behind the lens? Or are they trying to sway you in a different direction?

At first maybe it was a hard sell, but I am steadily improving and making a bit of money at it now so they do support me.

I originally went to engineering school, but all during class I would just be looking out the window and daydreaming, listening to songs that I could make edits to. Pretty early on I decided that I was done with engineering, it just wasn’t for me. For a few years after that it was rough, because when it came to filmmaking I didn’t know where to start, or even how to start. Then Covid hit, and that made me decide to give filmmaking a fair shot. I figured, “this is it.”

Once everything opened back up I was at the track 3 days a week trying to sell photos for £2 each. I started doing edits after that, slowly charged a little more, and now I’ve got a small thing going. I used to only be able to cover my expenses, but now I can actually put some away. Hopefully it keeps going into next year!

It’s been cool to see your progression from afar!

Thanks! It was tough goings. There weren’t many people out here doing video or photos, most would come and go, but now there’s a steady group of three or four of us that make the rounds. The scene is growing.

I understand you’ve been to America before, a trip to SoCal and most recently your excursion to RedBud for the MXoN. I’m curious how you feel American riding compares to England?

It’s hard to say. Everyone looks way faster in America, but then you get there and realize that the tracks themselves are way faster than anything we have over here. They’re high speed with big jumps. Out here we don’t have anything in the way of jumps. I think a few places can’t even get insurance on their track if they put a double jump on it, something crazy like that. There’s no big jumps, but the tracks get pretty rough. It’s hard to compare.

That seems to be a common theme over the years. Whatever you got you’re just gonna ride it.

Especially this time of year, it’s just a swamp. Our tracks stay open.

That private sand track towards the beginning of your film comes to mind. Looks like endless loam that could really take a beating.

That place is sick. I haven’t been there since the start of the year, but I think more people are starting to go out there now. Back when I went, they were trying to keep the location a secret because they didn’t want a lot of people riding there. There’s a couple of tracks on that same bit of land, and the coaches have been using it to train and such, so now it’s more well known. It’s gnarly though, for sure. People want to go film there, but you have to be good if you want to get proper footage!

Jayden Haigh from THE END.

How was MXoN, by the way? Your first one?

I went to the Nations event at Matterly Basin in 2017, but that was just to watch. RedBud was my first Nations as a media guy. It was unreal. The facility seems a lot smaller than I would’ve thought. It looks massive on TV, but in real life it wasn’t so hard to get around. It was a bit of a frantic thing, that trip. I found out last minute through one of my mates that I could actually get into America, so I started to ring around for anyone who might need media that could get me a pass. I ended up working for a publication out here that allowed me to basically do whatever I wanted, which was perfect really. They did not ask for much. I have a video coming out soon from that weekend.

Turning back to your festival entry, when did you start formulating the idea to do an all amateur film?

It was pretty early on from the time you announced the film festival this year. Someone gave me a film that had a bunch of English riders like Max Anstie and such when they were kids, and I thought to myself that there’s kids now who are doing the same thing, and they deserve something to look back on when they’re older. Even if they don’t go pro like Max, they’re still out riding and racing every weekend with their friends. It’s not about how far you make it anyway, it’s about having fun.

“Even if they don’t turn pro like Max [Anstie], they’re still out there riding and racing every weekend with their friends. It’s not about how far you make it anyway, it’s about having fun.”

Would you agree that the moto scene is strong in England right now?

There’s some kids now that are at a high level! Josh Vail won the MX Masters in the 85 class, he’s in the film as well. It’s been building, for sure. There’s a lot of people trying to improve moto in England right now.

The small wheel 85 championship that wraps up the film really drives that point home. Kids like Alfie [Geddes-Green] and Blake [Ward-Clarke] who fought right to the end, that’s a grit that you can’t really teach. The kids gotta want it!

There’s quite a few good things going right now in the scene that are driving these kids to want to to better, one of them being the media side of things across the globe. The kids are attracted to it, especially the stuff that Tommy [Searle] is doing, it has everyone talking, for sure. Being able to see so much great riding at the tips of your fingers is motivating to the youth.

But then there’s the other side of it – if you looked at our Nations team this year, it was old! And they’re all legends, no doubt, but they didn’t really stack up in the results like some of the other teams did, and the kids see that as a chance to claim their spot. The kids coming up want to be ready to put England back on top, and they look to riders from all across the world for motivation.

There’s a bit of an English-sized hole in the professional ranks at the moment. I think Ben Watson is our only top guy in the GP’s right now. Any of those kids could be the next one, if they believe it. Some of them are grinding, truly. Josh Vail, who we just mentioned, he does laps in the pool every day before school. The commitment is hardcore.

Three dudes I wanted to highlight are Lennox Dickinson, McKenzie Marshall, and Charlie Heyman. Those three seem poised to take the next step, all of them being on big bikes and such.

It’s funny you say that, because I was specifically thinking about sponsoring Lennox and Charlie next season with some media work. Lennox just got on a big bike actually, he’s only 14 now, but he rips. And Charlie just went pro in England this past season, so we’re going to find out what he’s made of real soon! He’s been smoking everyone in the 125 class for like three years now, so I think he’s ready for the big boys. A lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he’ll be alright.

Heyman, 2x English 125 champ in 2022.
Lennox on the Husky, working with Gary Dickinson and Ben McConville.

Lennox is actually from Ireland, but I saw him at a club race and he came into the B class and just smoked everyone. His lap times were faster than the A’s, but they couldn’t let him in because he was only 13 at the time. There’s a lot of teams for the amateurs around here that have plenty of sponsors, but with Lennox I only ever see him with his name on his bike and his number on the jersey. He should get noticed pretty quick if he keeps riding like that, though.

You open and close your film with some snippets from Alan Watts. What drew you to his words and their eventual inclusion in your film?

One of the notes I got last year from the judges was that my film lacked an element that you could follow along with, and I wanted to remedy that this year with the Alan Watts quotes. I had stumbled upon his work years ago, and his words stuck with me ever since I first heard them. For what I used in the film, he speaks about being so focused on reaching an end, that you forget to enjoy everything in-between. The journey is the destination really, and that journey is to be enjoyed. That’s why the film was called THE END, because of his words. The kids may have been focused on winning their respective championship at the end of the season, but it was more important that they enjoyed themselves along the way.

Is there anything lacking in the moto scene that you hope to add to in the years to come? When you look at the scene, is there something that you see missing?

I don’t think there’s anything in particular that I think is missing where I could add to, but I just hope to contribute to what is already good about moto. It’s small, but I am glad there are still proper videos being made. The world’s full of vlogs and compilation edits, and there aren’t many true films being made anymore, but I think there’s a small pocket of people keeping it alive and I hope to continue being a part of that crowd.

Reece with the low angle. P: Jayden Haigh

How did this year feel for you? What did you take away from this season in your own life?

I’ve got some new equipment this year and, compared to last year when I was filming everything on my M50, there’s no way I’m going back!

Other than that, I just got to do a bunch of events that I’m real proud of. I was at the Matterly GP right off the rip, which was awesome. Got the ball rolling pretty well. I got to shoot with Nathan and Ben Watson as well around that same time. Flew over for RedBud and then hit the World Supercross round in Cardiff once I got home, so yeah! It was great. I hope to take that momentum into next year so I don’t have to go back to selling photos for £2, haha!

Thanks to Reece for taking the time to chat. You can follow his work over at @thefilmcru and on his website.

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