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Daily Dose — Local filmmaker Jeremy Grant brings TGR's latest mountain bike film ACCOMPLICE to Big Screen

Jeremy Grant filming on location in India. — Photo submitted by TGR Staff Writer & Photographer Katie Lozancich

Local filmmaker Jeremy Grant started filming his friends ride bikes when he was just 12 years old on his parent’s hi-8 camera. At first, they took turns filming each other riding, it was a classic case of “hold the camera, watch this.” But as the drops got bigger and the tricks started emerging and happening off the jumps, Jeremy would soon find himself offering to hold the camera more and more.

As he put it “It was 25% creative aspiration, and 75% self-preservation. My friends went on to be some of the best riders in the world and I was lucky enough to be the one next to them with a camera,” he adds.

You could say it was second nature to him, and from all accounts not a lot has changed over the last two decades since he first picked up his camera. He still travels around the world with good friends and documents them pushing themselves. The backdrops may have changed but at its core it’s identical.

In this edition of The Daily Dose, Editor Jeff Sawyer sits down with Jeremy Grant ahead of the Nelson premiere of Teton Gravity Research’s latest MTB film ACCOMPLICE, to explore what has shaped him as a filmmaker, as we dive into the theme that runs throughout the film of how mountain biking brings us together as a community, and how the bike serves as our accomplice throughout our lives.

Being behind the lens, exploring rugged mountain peaks and dusty trails with the best mountain bikers in the world must be an exhilarating experience for you, what are your best memories so far in your career?

That’s a tough one there have been so many. If I reminisce my top memories would be some of the more exotic trips - Nepal, India, Fiji, North Pole. There is something powerful about those adventures where you’re so remote all you have is your team. It sounds crazy to travel so far from population to connect with people but it was the people that made those trips. As I get older though, it’s the trips and stories closer to home that have created the strongest memories. For ACCOMPLICE of all the incredible trips, and they were all amazing, my favourite was shooting with Paul Basagoitia and Cam Zink in Crested Butte, Colorado. I’ve worked with Paul since 2004 but he had a severe spinal chord injury in 2015 and this was my first time shooting with him since. Seeing him back on a bike after all he’s been through is one of the most courageous acts I’ve seen on a mountain bike.

How do you feel your experience working in Nelson along with Freeride Entertainment helped to shape you as a director on your own films?

The community of Nelson has played a huge role in my filmmaking. The first time I realized I could do this for a living was doing work experience attending L.V. Rogers High School with local filmmaker Bill Heath. I hauled his tripod around for him in the mountains any chance I’d get. Bill connected me with Freeride Entertainment founder Derek Westerlund and that was instrumental in my career. Derek is a visionary and has this ability to bring amazing humans together. Getting to work with some of the creatives that worked at Freeride like Alex Fostvedt, Eric Crosland, Brad McGregor, Aaron Whitley, Andrew Boucher, Kenny Foot and Jonnie Brio (to name a few) is very much a highlight of my career. I still have huge respect for all of them and collaborate with them whenever I get the chance.

From a filmmaking perspective did you approach ACCOMPLICE differently from your previous film ‘Where the Trail Ends’?

I try to approach every film differently, but yes ACCOMPLICE represented something unique to my previous projects. I’ve spent so much of my career highlighting what makes these athletes supernatural, and unlike us and with this film I want to focus, at least sub-textually, on ‘what makes them like us’. The film still has all the crazy double backflips and gnarly lines that are classic in action sport MTB films, but most segments explore something that every rider has in common, weather you’re a pro or it’s your first time on a bicycle.

Speaking of which, as the director for Teton Gravity Research’s latest project, you celebrate how the bicycle is more than just a mode of transportation. Rather it’s a vehicle for the human spirit, can you elaborate on this human endeavour further, and what this spirit means to you, and what you wanted to capture through this lens?

When TGR approached me about writing and directing a film with them I was out riding with my good friend Greg Wheeler who just got into mountain biking, as we pedaled, I tried to figure out why I love riding so much, I don’t do double backflips, win trophies or set speed records. By the end of the pedal I realized it’s the relationships it enables that really brings me back each season. Now that I have kids and work way too much, the bike is a way for me to stay connected with old friends, my brother, heck even my dog!

Understanding the theme of how mountain biking brings us together as a community, and how the bike serves as our accomplice throughout our lives. As a director, how did you take that concept and turn this idea into a genre-defining mountain bike film that differentiates from other films in the same class?

The biggest challenge, even as I do this interview, is to put the feeling of riding into words. It ends up sounding cliché or cheesy I know, but if you’ve every thrown your leg over a bike that’s the beauty of it. It’s a feeling. Putting it into words robs it of something. For the film we really tried to make sure it was a celebration, not an explanation of that feeling.

There is a timelessness and authentic feel to the treatment you have created with ACCOMPLICE, how did you achieve this through your cinematography techniques?

With the goal of the film being accessibility, not exclusivity, we wanted to make sure the film mediums communicated that as well. We shot on 8k Red Cameras and robotic Kira Arms with phantom slow-motion cameras on them, but we also shot on a windup Bolex 16mm film camera Bill Heath gave me, old VHS cameras and even the iPhone. The idea behindthat was to highlight how that feeling at the core of riding has been happening for generations.

What was the behind the scenes culture like working on ACCOMPLICE, and what did it mean for you personally?

My favourite thing about filmmaking is getting to know people and their stories. You get permission to tell these unguarded stories you’d never have access to otherwise. This whole film jumps between all these inspiring humans so just to be able to hang out with them, be inspired by them and help tell their stories was super humbling.

Shooting in various locations from the Purcell’s to India, what were some of the most challenging moments for you and your team logistically?

With every segment in the film we tried to do something different, so as a team we always had to reinvent ourselves. We’d be shooting a deeply personal story with Paul Basagoitia one week, then the next week we were filming with animals, and the following week we were shooting at 10,000 ft. in the Himalayas. No matter how well one shoot went, you’d be back to square one for the next shoot. But I think that brought out the best in the team. You never got too comfortable.

There is another local connection to making this film come to fruition, as you teamed up with local producer Aaron Whitley. There must have been great synergy with you both having experienced working together at Freeride. Can you share how valuable he was in helping to make ACCOMPLICE come to life?

Yes absolutely. Aaron Whitley was the one who brought me into this project. He was already attached to it as a producer and reached out to me when they needed a director. Aaron is an absolute ninja and can make anything happen with any sized team, one minute he’d be managing a huge shoot with a million logistics, and an hour later he’d be shooting a Red camera getting amazing shots. They reached out to me late July and we started shooting in August. We had to shoot the whole film by December before the snow fell. That's 5 months to shoot an 8-location feature length bike film. If it were not for Aaron’s incredible skill as a producer there is no way we would have pulled that off.

The ACCOMPLICE tour launches July 8th in Nelson B.C., bringing TGR's latest mountain bike film to the screens, showcasing local riders Kurt Sorge and Garret Buehler. What timing with the changing landscape of cinema arts during a pandemic! How do you envision the drive-in experience to be vs the traditional theatre experience?

One of the reasons I fell in love with this project, was we were going to do a big film tour. As a filmmaker I love sitting with people in a theatre and sharing that experience. Especially these days when everything is so saturated with digital content, I loved the idea of a theatrical tour. When COVID hit I was worried we’d lost that and was pleasantly surprised with the TGR teams quick pivot to a drive-in tour. Everyone's safety is top priority right now, and to find a safe way to bring people and communities together I think is more important now than ever. All that said, the film will be released to iTunes and other video on demand platforms early August, for anyone who misses the drive-in tour or just those who want to watch the movie again.

You guys should build an outdoor ramp for the Nelson premiere? 

Ha that’s an awesome idea and I wish we could. In these crazy times I feel lucky enough that we’ve found a way to share the film with people on the big screen. For right now it’s important that all the crazy tricks happen on the screen and believe me there is going to be plenty of them up there.

Any final words and thoughts for our readers and your film partners?

I want to make sure I point out that this film was made by a huge, and incredibly gifted team. There is often a lot of hype placed on the director but this film was really made by a TEAM in the truest sense of the word. From Aaron Whitley’s incredible work to the entire TGR crew, to Tamas Forde’s amazing cutting style and every contractor that came in to make ACCOMPLICE shine. I want to thank the executive producers at TGR for believing in the idea and a bringing it to life. We had amazing sponsors - Polaris, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Crested Butte, Schwalbe Tires and Evil Bikes. It takes an army and a lot of passion to make a film like this and I’m very excited to share it with the world.  

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Get ready Nelson!  On Wednesday, July 8th 2020, Teton Gravity Research is coming to town for the world premiere of their new mountain bike film, ACCOMPLICE.  Join them at the pop-up drive-in event at the Civic Theatre to see this film on the big screen for the first time ever.

Attendees will be able to enter to win prizes from their partners at Sierra Nevada, Evil Bikes, Schwalbe Tires and more. Plus, everyone in attendance will have a shot at the tour grand prizes - including a Sierra Nevada Prize Pack, a SCOTT Strike Premium e-RIDE, and a Polaris General 1000 off-road vehicle. Don’t miss your chance to see ACCOMPLICE on the big screen!

About the film:

From the producers of unReal and the director of Where The Trail Ends comes a new film to memorialize the majesty of mountain biking. From our first time pedalling without training wheels to first descents in far off lands, ACCOMPLICE is a visual love letter to the bicycle and all it enables. Starring the world’s top riders in spectacular locations the film explores all the splendor and nuance of our relationship with the bicycle and the adventures and friendships it becomes a catalyst for.

EVENT DETAILS

  • What: Nelson premiere of ACCOMPLICE
  • When: Wednesday, July 8. 9:15 and 11:00 showings
  • Where: Civic Theatre Pop-up Drive-in
  • How Much: Tickets are $40 CAD per vehicle
  • Details: Join us at the world premiere of our new mountain bike film ACCOMPLICE, directed by Nelson local Jeremy Grant and produced by local Aaron Whitley.

To buy tickets online or RSVP on Facebook please visit:

https://www.tetongravity.com/films/accomplice/tour/nelson-premiere-of-accomplice

For more behind the scene look at what went into making ACCOMPLICE please visit:

https://www.tetongravity.com/films/accomplice

Including featuring Nelson filmmaker Eva Anandi Brownstein who worked with TGR and Jeremy Grant in India.

https://www.tetongravity.com/video/bike/inside-accomplice-ep.2-finding-more-than-mountain-biking-in-india

Photos below submitted by TGR Staff Writer & Photographer Katie Lozancich