The State of Cyclocross is screening at The Kona Bike Shop on Thursday, November 8th at 6:30pm. Tickets are $5. All event info can be found here.

“You want something you care about to last beyond you”

Professional rider Laura Winberry was talking about cyclocross and her desire for the sport’s sustainability when she said those words and when she did so, she unknowingly captured the ethos of the entire project and gave us the tagline of the film.

State of Cyclocross is about making something that lasts. In an age of mass photography, and an era of select, process, post and forget, we wanted something tangible and lasting. To shoot on film is to be fully present, to evaluate, to prepare, to be patient and to be right. At its heart, this film is a meditation on the sport of cyclocross. It explores its counter-cultural past, its existence today and what needs to be done to sustain it moving forward. As the rapidly growing sport drifts away from its counter-culture roots and begins to become more mainstream, it is developing a bit of an identity crisis: does it stay fringe and true to its roots or does it accept the movement towards professionalism and a more sustainable economic model? Even in the space of time since the film was shot and completed, the ever-changing landscape of Cyclocross has already shifted. Incorporating voiceover by multiple current and former professionals and national champions, it was filmed in Super 8 in a single day in January at the United States Cyclocross National Championships in Reno. Additionally, the film also incorporates still photography as interludes which were also shot that same day using vintage film cameras and legacy lenses.

Project Backstory and Creation

When I was a kid I rode BMX bikes religiously. I skated Sims Christian Hosoi boards until they broke. I discovered The Clash and Black Flag when my brother passed me a joint in the 8th grade and then said, “listen to this”. I grew up. I Let go of such things. I discovered my dad’s Canon AE-1. I fell in love. But like most passions, it was fleeting. I moved on to other sports and activities, but it wasn’t until I was an adult and discovered the sport of cyclocross – a fringe discipline on the cycling spectrum – that all of my childhood endeavors – good and bad – converged. I fell in love once more.

State of Cyclocross came about due to a conversation between myself and one of my co-collaborators, Michael Jasinski, when, after finishing up our work together on another cycling-related short, we were talking about the lack of intention in terms how people create and consume visual content today. We decided to make a bit of a statement. Thus the project was born.

We decided to go all in. One day of shooting. All on film. Crowdfund for the initial film stock … it might work, it might be a disaster. I don’t have fear of such things. The thrill was in the unknown; of not knowing if you got the shot or not; of not knowing if the camera even worked or not. It was a gamble.

It worked.

I gravitate towards cycling for inspiration because I believe it strips away all the artifice of the life we construct and lays us bare. There is no faking success in a bike race and even more so in a cyclocross race. Why race a bike not suited for the terrain at full tilt? Why climb a mountain? The answer is the same. To feel. To suffer. To overcome. To feel accomplished in the end for having finished regardless of result. Film making, like cycling, pushes us to our limits. Artistically it is the most beautiful endeavor there is and I seek to express this.

The choice of Super 8 for this film was, initially, a philosophical one as mentioned earlier, and secondly, an aesthetic one. I grew up with Super 8. I wanted to feel that nostalgia with what I love most. “Cross” is a gritty, dirty, hard activity when the resolution of the moment is not clean at all. It is a natural medium for the sport. Brian Vernor’s “Pure Sweet Hell” showed the way. I wanted to move in a different direction and it became a mediation of the sport and sought this out through the sound design. Additionally, Michael and the brilliant Patrick Means joined me to take stills on film and vintage lenses to add to the aesthetic.

Secondarily, though, I wanted the challenge of film again. When I was young, it was what we had. You clicked, advanced, and clicked again. You didn’t know what you had until days, maybe weeks later. The surprise. The delayed gratification. The evaluation of the shot knowing that each frame costs money. Shooting with digital is an expression of our time: consumable, easy, discard or keep based on whimsy; a lack of intention and evaluation. I needed to divorce myself from this and really evaluate location and framing and movement and, especially, time. I had a finite number of frames to use. I had to use them well. I took 14 cassettes of film – 7 black and white, 7 color –  and went to the most important race in our nation and tested myself.

The result was beyond what I had expected. We all hope you enjoy it.

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