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By Seb Kemp

Clay Porter is at the top of his game. From being the grom stitching together video footage of domestic racing to being under contract with the biggest names in action sports film making, Clay has always stuck to his guns and done things his way. He has always made films of racing even when that wasn’t the thing to do, and he has undoubtedly been one of the reasons why there is now a mini-industry of race film makers. He has big goals, and the drive and passion to pull them off. He deeply loves and believes that mountain bike downhill racing has a much bigger calling and he isn’t just sitting around waiting for it to happen, he is rattling cages and knocking on doors.
     Clay’s hard work has paid off and now he shoots downhill all year round on numerous projects. Last year was the first time we didn’t have the privilege of an annual Clay Porter production. Sure there were the Atherton Project episodes and numerous other projects he was involved in, but there was no DVD release at Sea Otter as we have all come to expect and enjoy over the years. He wasn’t resting on his laurels, he just had a grander vision that needed more time to mature. The result of this divine distillation is 3 Minute Gaps, a movie that has taken Clay on a two year, intercontinental odyssey of the rarefied world of downhill racing.
     This time he also took along a few other artists on the ride to help him produce the definitive and absolute race movie. John Lawlor is a veteran of the World Cup circuit, once a racer he now travels alongside the Santa Cruz Syndicate as their team motion picture diarist. John Reynolds and Sven Martin have, similarly, been traveling the World Cup circuit documenting the movements of the world’s fastest, and graphic communication virtuoso, Craig Grant, was brought in to formulate the movie project beyond the movie itself.
     3 Minute Gaps is his the latest and greatest in the lineage of movies Clay has produced. Look out for the unveiling of the winsome website on 24th February and fort-nightly video profiles of each of the cast members. Vital MTB managed to drag Clay away from his hectic schedule of travel, editing and email marathons long enough to get some very honest words from him about the work behind the scenes that goes into filming behind the scenes. We are proud to present to you Clay Porter in his owns words.


“This is the first time collaborating with someone else on one of my films. This was brought on by my desire to make a better film. Film-making is a collaborative process and if my films were to grow I needed help. Help with shooting, help with planning, help with pretty much everything. With The Tipping Point, I reached the capacity of what one person could do on his own making mountain bike films. I worked my ass off on that film. When I say worked my ass of I mean put everything into it, sacrificed pretty much everything with the simple goal of making the best product possible. Flying to Australia just to do an interview is something that most people wouldn't do, but I didn't cut any corners, I did stuff like that to make the best product possible. Basically, after The Tipping Point, I knew that in order to grow my films and fulfill my vision better, I needed people to help me do that and my first choice was Lawlor. He's been in the game forever, knows all the riders and is just as hungry I am to make killer films and grow the sport of downhill mountain bike racing. Lawlor shares my passion for film-making so it was an easy partnership. You think Steven Spielberg thrives and excels as a one man army? Fuck no, he has people helping fulfill his vision and my first choice was Lawlor. Bringing Lawlor on was done to make a better, more complete film. I needed more hands and eyes. And it was a good excuse to help out one of my homies and travel the world with one of my best friends.”
John Lawlor, John Reynolds, Aaron Gwin and Clay Porter. - Sven Martin
“I am the director and executive producer of the project. It is my vision and my way. Lawlor is basically my right hand man; he is at all the shoots and the races, and is very involved in the process. From drafting concepts to sections, to helping plan shoots, to filming, to editing Lawlor is there every step of the way. Although I am the director, 3 Minute Gaps is a film by Clay Porter and John Lawlor and will be labeled as such.
     “John Reynolds is another cinematographer that was at all the races in 2009 and 2010. He also worked on the Aaron Gwin shoot this past December. Reynolds is there for another angle and perspective at the races. Above when I said, the reason for bringing Lawlor on board was to make a better film, the same can be said about Reynolds. I am traveling and living with Gee [Atherton], and Reynolds is traveling and living with Gwiny. I am hard pressed to think of another bike film that literally lives with the riders through wins and losses and Reynolds is a big part of it as he's traveled, lived and documented Gwiny's rise to the podium over the past two seasons. 3 Minute Gaps lives with the riders that are featured in the project, and Reynolds is a big reason I can claim this.
     “Sven Martin is the still photographer on the project. I am very picky who I work with and only want to work with the best. I think that Sven, over the past few years, has established himself as the best mountain bike photographer in the world. No other photographer works as hard, travels as much and takes better, more unique photos. Sven, like myself, is hungry-as-fuck to travel and absolutely kill it. People with the work ethic of Sven are people that I want to surround myself with and have involved in my projects.
     “Craig Grant is the art director on the project. He's responsible, for the website, DVD packaging, titles and branding of the film. Like Sven, Reynolds and Lawlor, Craig thrives on hard work and killing it. He alone has established the look of Yeti Cycles over the past 5 years, as their in-house Art Director and I'm lucky and fortunate that he's involved with 3 Minute Gaps. As a one man design army, Craig has established himself as the best art director in the mountain bike industry. No one else, comes close. Again, Craig is the best and I only work with the best.”

2003. Cam McCaul in the air while Clay films and Alex Reveles sits on Juan Graziosi's shoulders. We've all come a long way since the good old days. -spomerON WHY IT TOOK 2 YEARS
“The simple answer is because that is how long it takes to make rad, memorable and meaningful mountain bike film these days. Anthill/Collective spends two years on their projects, Freeride Entertainment abandoned their annual NWD shred flick to work on Where The Trail Ends, and Life Cycles spent four years or something like that on their film. To make epic films, you need time, simple as that. Gone are the days that you can sit back and film some races, shoot a few riders for the day and make a film. If you want to make something rad, you need time. Mountain bike films have risen to the top of action sports film-making. Five years ago, they were merely a weird step child cousin of their action sports cousins, now they are knocking on the door of epic surf and snow films. It's rad.
     “For this kind of stuff and to have these kinds of goals for your work, you need time. These days, 2 years should be the minimum amount of time that a top level, high quality mountain bike is shot.”

“More specifically, mountain bike race moving image has progressed leaps and bounds in the 10 years that I've been making films and holding a video camera. When I first started trying to make films (around 2002 and 2003) distributors were scared when you mentioned race-only films. It almost frightened them off. I had to work my fucking ass off to get them to distribute my projects. Now they fight to sell my films. The same goes for the riders. A guy like Gee or any other top racer has the luxury of shooting with any top filmmaker. Producers of Follow Me, NWD and other freeride based film makers are knocking on Gee's door to shoot him. Gee is a racer and in 2002/03 that wouldn't have been the case. Racers and race film-making has skyrocketed and I'd like to think I've had a lot to do with it.
     “Right now, fans of mountain bike racing can go online and see so much good content on the day of the race. The Parkins, for example, work hard on their Dirt videos and I hope the fans recognize this and realize that they have amazing content they can watch daily. From a World Cup race weekend, you can go online and watch a Dirt video, an MTBcut video, and a live Freecaster broadcast. And then you have every team doing a video as well. Can you get this kind of coverage in any other sport? No. Can you get this kind of coverage in the Freeride world? No. Mountain bike race moving image is healthy and strong.”

“That being said there is almost too much content online and it all becomes very diluted. This is where films like 3 Minute Gaps really stand out. There are so many web videos that they've become average. You know when you walk into a bar or club or whatever and it's filled with chicks. That's rad for sure but most of them are train wrecks that if you have any sort of self confidence and morals know that all they are good for is a quick look or some quick fun. This quick look are web videos. Just as fast as the hits rack up, the impact those web vids have on the audience wears off just as fast. 3 Minute Gaps is the model chick that's cool as fuck, doesn't sleep around, that you marry and love for a lifetime. 3 Minute Gaps is a one off. 3 Minute Gaps has no competitors simply because it is that good.
     “Although the freeride side of mountain biking has less web videos, it has more model chicks i.e. more high quality films. I see films like the work of NWD, Anthill and Life Cycles and I get so fucking hungry to apply that same productive value to my own films. I have a lot of respect for Derek Westerlund, the Anthill crew, and Frankowski and Gibb. They seem so hungry to portray mountain biking to the public in a good way, and I hope I'm included in their group.
     “At the end of the day, 3 Minute Gaps is, in a way, my ploy to bring mountain bike racing into the big time. I want to see Rach [Atherton] on the cover of Women's Fitness. I want to see Gee [Atherton] dating some singer from one of those British Spice Girls-style groups. I want mountain bike racing to be so fucking big time and I hope that 3 Minute Gaps will start to do this.”

Clay (with Steve Wentz on the right) in 2004 at the Calgary World Cup. Notice Gee Atherton in the background. If we only knew back then, the kind of relationship these two would have. -spomerON BEING DIFFERENT
“This movie will differ from my previous films simply due to the fact that I have more people shooting. I literally lived with Gee for the past seasons, Reynolds lived with Gwin for the past two seasons, and John Lawlor stayed with Steve during Canberra Worlds when he won. I can't think of another film, mountain biking or not, where the filmmakers lived with the world’s best athletes during their attempts at being the best. I seriously think that 3 Minute Gaps will be gnarly, simply for the fact of the access that myself, Lawlor and Reynolds have had to the world's best mountain bike racers. I can't think of another project where the filmmakers have literally lived with the stars of their sport. It hasn't really been done before in mountain biking and I am hard pressed to think of a sport where it has been done. 3 Minute Gaps will be an intimate, personal and sincere documentation of the sport of World Cup downhill mountain bike racing.”

“As far as slow-mo goggle shots and time-lapses go, of course you can expect that kind of stuff. People that say those kind of shots are played or whatever are so fucking stupid. It is because of those kind of narrow-minded people that mountain bike racing isn't bigger right now. People are used to seeing an Alex Rankin style of shooting downhill racing. Don't get me wrong, I love that style and think Alex is an amazing filmmaker with a visual style all his own, but do you think that when Sam Hill is talking about what he was thinking moments before crossing the line at World Champs, a fast pan is the ideal shot choice? Fuck no. A slow-mo shot showing the concentration in his eyes is a much better choice. I shoot a variety of styles of shots as it allows me to tell the story I want to tell. There will be slow-mo goggle shots, fast pans, time-lapses, and everything in between in 3 Minute Gaps.”

“As far as the style of music in the film, you'll hear a bit of everything. Definitely more of a drum and base, electronic vibe however.
     “Everything influences my music selection. I'll hear a song I like and Shazam it on my iPhone and buy it right then and there. Right now, I'm typing this in the Brisbane airport on my layover, flying home from Sam Hill's house and I've been listening to this song that was on a CD in Sam's car, flat out. It'll be perfect for the credits or ending section. I love looking through riders iPods and getting their suggestions. Music is very important in action sports films and I really pride myself on picking a track that not only I like but the rider likes as well.”

“I hire Soundtrax Services which is a company that clears music for action sports films. They pretty much work with all the big time producers of action sports films. They are expensive but you've got to clear music if you want to call yourself a professional filmmaker. If you don't, it's a red flag to get in trouble.
     “It's important to clear music because it's completely illegal if you don't. No two ways about it. Many filmmakers these days complain about their movies getting Torrented or being put on YouTube, but unless you're clearing music, you are just as bad, if not worse, as the dudes putting your work on YouTube. I take pride in making legal, professional films and unless you are using properly licensed music, you can't call yourself a professional filmmaker. 3 Minute Gaps is going to be on DVD, BluRay, iTunes, Amazon on Demand, Netflix and TV throughout Europe. I've got to cover myself as far as music rights go. It's fucking expensive as shit, but you've got to do it if you want to make a legit product and ensure that the biggest audience is seeing your work.”

So there we have it, the truth of the matter from the man himself. Get ready to have your eyeballs nebulized by 3 Minute Gaps and look out for the thumping roll out of the 3 Minute Gaps website very soon. 
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