LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!!!
Behind The Scenes of TWMX's KICKSTART
By Donn Maeda
Photos by Chris Kinman and Brendan Lutes
Ask anyone who's worked with me, and I am sure that they'll all tell you the same thing: I am an incurable workaholic. A few months ago when I learned that there was no TransWorld Motocross feature movie in the budget for 2009, an idea popped into my head…an idea that I would be cursing myself for during the next four months. You see, with movies like Crush, Stone Spray Sandwich, 6ix, and Why, plus our Skills trilogy of videos, TransWorld Motocross has hired a film crew to produce a DVD movie every year since 2003. I just couldn't see going without one in 2009, regardless of how bad our economy is right now.
"I'll do it, then," I said. After all, a little over a year ago I was bitten by the video bug and had been producing most of the videos showcased on TransWorldMX.com. I figured that what my movie would lack in elaborate boom, dolly, and helicopter shots, I could make up for with the best riders cast in the business. After a few meetings with upper management, I was given the green light. My friend Taylor Congdon of The Assignment Moving Picture Company—the guys that produced every TWMX movie since Stone Spray Sandwich—was super supportive, but he thought that I was crazy for trying to undertake a feature movie by myself that late in the year. (My first shoot didn't occur until July!) Still, with some help from friends, co-workers, and the riders themselves, TransWorld Motocross' 2009 movie, KICKSTART, came together in four short months. It was a hell of a lot more work than I ever imagined, and it involved more travel, more red tape, more learning, and more late nights at my laptop than I ever imagined it would.
In the pages that follow, you'll find some of my personal memories of the making of TransWorld Motocross' KICKSTART, which stars Nate Adams, Justin Barcia, Brian Deegan, Tarah Gieger, Josh Grant, Jason Lawrence, Chad Reed, and James Stewart.
If you haven’t already purchased your copy of KICKSTART—which is now available—you better do so now, because they’re going fast. Buying the DVD is easy, and you can do so by simply clicking HERE.
Also, be sure to click through all the pages in this feature, as there are quite a few photos and captions to check out. It’s also worth noting that each photo is Wallpaper size.
Justin Barcia is the hottest rookie of the year, and when Honda brought him out to the 2010 CRF250R press introduction at Perris Raceway, I asked him if he'd like to be in the movie. Justin eagerly agreed, and from there it was a logistics game with his mom, Rainie. The Barcias were driving to the last few Nationals and we decided to hook up with them at Blue Diamond MX Park in New Castle, Delaware, during the week in between Unadilla and Budds Creek. Justin, Brendan Lutes, and I had the entire track to ourselves all day long, and it was prepped to perfection. Justin was easy to film, as his super-aggressive riding style yielded great footage from the moment I pressed the record button. Justin's whips and scrubs are some of the best in the sport, and it was always easy to hear him coming, thanks to his tendency to redline the engine every time he leaves the ground. Justin took us to the wonder known as WaWa's for lunch. Lutz and I were skeptical about eating at a gas station for lunch, but the sandwich counter at WaWa's rendered us unable to ever eat at Subway again. Justin's new trainer showed up just before he ordered, warned him to order whole wheat with no mayo. "Man," said Justin. "I used to come to WaWa's and get everything, including a chocolate shake. No more of that, I guess."
When Chad Reed responded with, "Yeah, sure! Let's make it cool," to my text message asking if he'd like to be in KICKSTART, I was stunned. With the 450cc National Championship within grasp, I figured he'd be all business and too busy for Brendan and me to invade his private track in Dade City, Florida. Reedy was into it, however, and we booked our tickets for the week in between Budds Creek and Southwick. As it turned out, Reedy wrapped up the championship at Budds, so I called up Russ at One Industries to see if they could print up some new Lucas Oils number-one plates to take with me. The package showed up as I was headed to the airport, and Chad was pumped to shoot with his new plates on. When we got to Chad's, Tim Ferry, Michael Byrne, and Jason Thomas were also there practicing, as well as some of Chad's neighborhood friends who were there to hang out. A vicious storm rolled in at the end of our day with Chad, but he and Byrner continued to moto in the downpour, ending the afternoon soaked to the bone. As it turns out, it was great practice for Southwick, which ended up being a rainy event, too.
Web master Chris Kinman and I headed to North Carolina to hang out with Josh Grant and the JGR MX crew at their private track in Statesville. I've known JG since he used to show up at Glen Helen REM races with his riding gear already on, so getting him to ham it up for our cameras was a cinch. JG was absolutely killing it, throwing his YZ450F upside down several times per lap around the beautiful, red dirt motocross course. One time, over the biggest triple step-up on the track, Josh whipped it so hard and went so high, that he trimmed the trees above with his rear fender. Several leaves floated from the sky after he jumped past, completing what might be my favorite shot in the whole movie. After our filming session, JGR's Jeremy Albrecht and Coy Gibbs gave Skinny and me tours of both the motocross and NASCAR race shops. I thought Skinny was going to soil himself, because he was so excited… All joking aside, the NASCAR race shop was amazing!
Everyone thought that with a new Supercross-only contract, James Stewart would have a summer of leisure, right? Wrong! With the X Games, sponsor obligations, testing of the new 2010 Yamaha YZ450F, and a new reality TV show on Speed, Bubba was busier than ever after Supercross ended. Still, our 2008 TWMX Rider of the Year made time for Brendan and me to visit just before the summer X Games, where he was slated to compete in Best Whip, Supermoto, and Moto X. We got some great footage of James in action, but due to his crazy schedule, one day of filming is all he had time for. Thankfully, my friend Jeremy Malott at Red Bull USA was able to help out with some additional exclusive footage Red Bull owned. Stewie's part in the movie is pretty sick…and his golf excerpts especially entertaining.
Brian Deegan and I have been friends since he used to color his hair with Kool-Aid and race for the Chaparral race team on a CR125R. Still, I was pleasantly surprised when the Mulisha General agreed to be in KICKSTART. Seeing as how it wasn't a Mulisha production, plus how busy he's been with his new career in off-road truck racing, I didn't honestly expect him to say when we inquired. Lutz, Skinny, and I visited the Mulisha Compound several times while making KICKSTART, and were also able to grab clips of Mulisha riders Ryan Hagy, Ox, Jeremy Stenberg, Derek Garland, and Ronnie Faisst. It cracked me up to watch Deegan turn on the "bad boy" persona when the camera was on him. Check the special features section of the DVD for a laugh-filled tour of Brian's new home in Temecula, California.
Last year before the summer X Games, I filmed eventual Women's Moto X winner Tarah Gieger killing it at the Red Bull Compound's private SX track. I had hoped to duplicate that footage this summer for KICKSTART, but with Gieger just back from a broken wrist suffered earlier in the year, our first day at a Supercross track proved to be as fruitless as Gigger's run at defending her X Games gold. Several weeks later, Lutz flew to Florida to film with Tarah on her more forgiving (on her wrist) hometown tracks. While he was there, Brendan was also hoping to capture some footage of Tarah at the beach, as she is also an accomplished surfer. Baby-sized waves in Florida meant no bikini time for Tarah, but we lucked out when Tarah and her brother Aron took a trip to Puerto Rico the following week and sent us some footy of No. 68 in the water.
Everyone knows that Nate Adams is a bad ass on a motorcycle and has some of the most fluid, perfected tricks in the business, but did you know that Patchy could rap? That's right, and I am talking about rhyming on the mic, not using colorful paper and ribbons to decorate a gift. In addition to throwing a ton of tricks—including 360 variations—for our film, Adams also wrote and recorded the song for his segment in the movie!
In between motos on his Suzuki, Chad fired up his decked-out Subaru Impreza WRX-si and spun some laps (and caught some air) around and in between his motocross and Supercross tracks. After the rain ended his MX motos for the day, Chad took Lutz for the ride of his life in the Subaru. Brendan said that he wasn't scared, but I did notice that he changed his shorts at the airport before flying home.
After Deegan accepted the invitation to be in KICKSTART, he also began to concoct ideas for a funny skit. Let's just say that the one he whipped together includes a mullet, some short shorts, a stopwatch, and the biggest crash in the movie.
Justin's dad, Don Barcia, is in charge of keeping all the practice bikes running, and he diligently wrenched away on both of the bikes that the family had on the road in their fifth-wheel trailer. Anyone who's ever heard Justin rev his way around a track knows that the majority of Don's days are spent changing oil, replacing mufflers, and checking the valves!
It's a proven fact: J-Law drives traffic on TransWorldMX.com. Any video starring Jason Lawrence is guaranteed to blow up online, so it was only natural to include the bad boy of motocross in KICKSTART. We shadowed Jason at several Nationals, but also visited him in his home state of New Jersey, where he ripped around his favorite track: Old Bridge Raceway Park (better known as Englishtown). Lawrence has always had plenty to say when he's on the mic, and some of the clips we got for the movie are eerie, especially considering that he's currently serving a one-year sentence that began right after the season finale at Steel City.
Before we met Tarah Gieger at the track for her first day of filming, she was in the Fuel TV studios, filming an episode of The Daily Habit, a weekly talk show on the network. We were shocked when Gigger rolled into the track with full hair and makeup primping. So stunned, that we snapped a photo for proof!
Though James Stewart has relocated his residence to a beautiful home in nearby Orlando, Florida, he still returns to his Haines City ranch to "do work" nearly every day. It doesn't matter how many times you've been to the Stewart Ranch, it still gives us the same feelings that Disneyland gives five year olds.
I had an overwhelming sense of déjà vu as Chris Kinman and I drove into Ricky Carmichael's training compound in Tallahassee, Florida, behind Ryan Dungey. Memories of watching RC rip around the tracks on his KX125, KX250, CR250R, CRF450R, RM250, and RM-Z450 through the years raced through my mind. It was all new to Skinny, though, and he snapped thousands of photos for his Dungey feature that ran in a previous issue. Too bad for Chris, this was the last filming trip that I also brought my still camera to, and I beat him out for the cover. (Sorry, bud!)
It was at Josh Grant's shoot that I had the pleasure of meeting William Gillespie Jr., or "Heavy D" as the entire JGR MX crew likes to call him. Heavy D is a local mx rider who conducts online interviews for JGRMX.com, but more importantly, provides a ton of laughs for the entire crew. Here, he does his best impression of a Monster Girl while Josh and Cody Cooper practice starts.