In the simplest form, Travis Pastrana describes his new film Action Figures as the “ADHD version” of what he and the Nitro Circus crew did over the last two and a half years. Honestly, we probably couldn’t have said it any better. We had a chance to sit down with the legend himself last week and catch a sneak peek of his latest flick before it was released to the public, and if you took your eyes away from the screen to check your Instagram for even a second, you were sure to miss something awesome. Action Figures has everything you could expect from Pastrana and his cast of action sports madmen and women: a little bit of everything and a lot of crazy shit you haven’t seen before. Make sure you check it out for yourself, but before we got to watch it, we asked the 17-time X Games gold medalist a few questions about producing and directing his first film.
You got a new film out called Action Figures. For those who haven’t seen it, what was the idea behind it?
It’s kind of an interesting concept. We used to have Fuel TV—it was always on in my house and at most bars, and it always had action sports. And when I was growing up, there was Terrafirma, Crusty Demons Of Dirt, Moto-XXX—you had these movies, and in motocross, it was the culture. The first Crusty video I played every single morning before I went and rode. Not that my parents approved of it [laughs], but I wanted to live that lifestyle—that culture. When I watched those movies, I just wanted to go build ramps and dig jumps and go to the dunes, but everything kind of changed with the Internet. Everyone wanted the instant gratification of seeing those things online, and there stopped being money in making DVDs. There was really no money for this film, but I wanted to go to all of the guys at Nitro Circus and ask them, “What do you want to do? What can you dream up that we don’t have the finances for?” It was a passion project. Everybody came out—we had twenty people at any given time between ramp builders and riders staying at the house working on projects for over two years. At the end of the day, we spent a million dollars on a video that probably won’t even make half that, but my goal for this film was just to get the fun back—what can you do, what’s possible? I wanted to get the free and style back into freestyle. With the safety in the air bag systems that we have, the tricks that these guys are doing are really taking it to the next level.
What can people expect when they watch it?
This film is basically supposed to be like an old-school Crusty film—it’s a music video. Nothing really is explained; you either get it or you don’t. It was made by the riders, for the riders. Everyone edited their own sections. Everyone that had a hand in this film basically paid their own way. James Foster even welded his own ramps. Riders were flying themselves to my house, building their own shit, and welding their own shit. Tomas Pagès turned out to be one of the best equipment operators I’ve ever seen and was working forklifts and cranes and everything else. These guys f—king worked! That was the coolest thing about this project—it was a passion project. Yeah, we spent a lot of money, but at the end of day, the athletes put a lot of their own money into it, too. It was pretty cool.
And you produced and directed it?
Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t much directing. It was mostly just asking guys what they needed and getting my wife to say it was ok to have twenty guys living at the house year-round, whether we were there or not, who were all going to be welding and building…and drinking [laughs], and that we were going to provide the bar tab and the metal to do it. It was tough, but it was really cool. My girls had a blast—for them, having these guys at the house is like having the best uncles ever [laughs]. But my biggest thing, the reason why I put so much money into it, was so we didn’t have someone overseeing it who says, “ No, we think the audience would like it this way instead.” My direction was, whoever was doing a section, it was their section to decide how it was done—the filming, the editing, the music. It was done based on what they felt represented themselves the most. Some sections you might think are edited really well, and some sections you might think are edited like shit, but it’s edited by the riders to get the best feel possible—the rider got what the rider wanted. I’m really proud that this is a true representation of action sports.
What did you take away from making this film?
For me, I got a really great challenge. I pushed myself really hard on a lot of different aspects as far as riding goes. I had a few broken bones during the time and a few injuries, but it was a lot of fun. What I’m hoping, though, is that action sports evolves. I’m not saying that it’s stale or hasn’t progressed, but new tricks can take years to develop. With the ramps and the technology that we have, tricks have evolved on a daily basis since this project was started, and they evolved without too many injuries. At the end of the day, I hope this film helps inspire the next generation like I was inspired by the videos of our time. It was made to be watched over and over.
This film also has a special dedication that you’d like to mention, right?
Yeah, Roner. Eric Roner was actually hurt for most of this film. He came out to help Wheelz [Aaron Fotheringham] and help with the BASE jump stuff that we did. He was such a huge inspiration to so many people, but at the end of the day, the toughest part for most of us to take is that he wasn’t the guy who was pushing himself past his limits; he was the guy who was always so content and so happy with just being an awesome person and giving back to his sport and to his community and to his family. So many people look at it and say, “See, he pushed it too far.” He was just skydiving. It was devastating for Nitro [Circus], and I definitely want to give a huge thanks to Eric for everything that he has done.
For more information about Action Figures and Nitro Circus, go online to nitrocircus.com.