NotBad: A Re-View
Anthill Films is the direct descendant of The Collective - in essence the group of guys behind the legendary mountain bike movies The Collective, Roam, Seasons, Follow Me, and Strength in Numbers. Perhaps best known for their cutting edge cinematographic skills and production value, the early releases were also ground-breaking in terms of story-telling and vibe.
These days, competing on technical skills alone won't get you far as a film-maker (cue hordes of kids equipped with friends who run quadcopter "production houses" and DSLR-wielding teenagers-come-film-moguls), which leaves little option but to look for something more to stand out.
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the Anthill crew gathered up Trek's C3 team and headed to New Zealand for 30 days. 30 days may sound like a lot (especially in New Zealand), but it's actually a pretty short time frame if you want to produce more than a few minutes of film. That is especially true if additionally your job involves herding cats or in this case a group of world class mountain bikers: Brandon Semenuk, Brook MacDonald, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Andrew Shandro, René Wildhaber and Ryan Howard.
Hold up. Go back and read that last bit again please. You can't just skim past that last paragraph. For one, you don't need FMB rankings to tell you that this is a wildly impressive list of riders - but if you were to consult said rankings, you'd discover the current World number 3, joined by the guy who's not really doing contests this year but who just won the Joyride at Crankworx, the motormouth who's been winning contests and life since forever, and the Dog with more style and flow than you can shake a stick at (no sticks were harmed in the making of this sentence). Add to that little group the world's fastest Bulldog, our Swiss friend Mr. Mega, and one of the O.G.'s of freeride mountain biking straight outta Canada eh, and you know you're in for a treat.
On deck: pretty much the best riders in the world. So let's get that one out of the way already: yes, the riding isn't not bad, it's amazing. It's easy these days to have your senses numbed by the onslaught of riding edits that inundate our screens on a daily basis, but even the most jaded old keyboard-jockeys will be drawn in by any one of the mind-blowing riding segments in NotBad.
Anthill have used every trick up their well-traveled sleeves to bring the segments to life, and even added a couple of new ones. A gimbal-mounted helmet cam puts you right in middle carriage of the train of mayhem, switching views mid-run to let you really feel what it's like to haul the mail with some of the fastest shredders on wheels. Brook MacDonald's wake of destruction is given an extra touch of cinema magic with a sweet little "sequence-video" shot that we've not really see before, and there's heli-footage and a smattering of otherwise lovely dolly/crane/slider camera work to feast your weary eyes on.
The editing is superb, and really hits the spot in terms of mixing up the shots and adding extra little creative touches here and there. Yes, the crew brought along all their million-frame-per-second toys, but although there's a lot of it, slomo is brilliantly applied to enhance the story telling without ever becoming the main raison d'etre of the whole project. Besides, how could you ever get tired of seeing slomo shots of drive-by egg fights or Cam McCaul getting hit in the face with an eel?
Ultimately, the premise of NotBad is simply to show a bunch of guys having fun while putting on a world class riding clinic, the whole thing set to a killer soundtrack (no dubstep or electro-pop - hooray!). The story line is not very important, nor is the time line. Sure there are segments, but overall it's more about the vibe, the riding, and the stunning visuals (although it would be hard to look past the Frew Farm segment if we were ever asked to compile a list of all-time favorite movie parts).
Anthill set out to create a short movie, and did so in 30 days of filming. If they would have added another 30 days and made the movie twice as long, it would have fit right in with the list of their previous full-length features. That is really the ultimate testament to their film-making skills.
We for one are gonna go RE-view it now. For more information and to purchase your copy:
Photography by Sterling Lorence.