Grant Castelluzzo has been gracing us with his footage—on both sides of the camera—for 16 years. Yet somehow, it’s taken him until just recently to put his stamp on a full-length video with Madera’s ABD. Safe to say Grant made up for lost time with the 52 minute run time of ABD, as well as nine more minutes of extras in the follow up ABsidesD edit. Three years in the making, 12 riders, extensive travel, Grant fills us in on everything that has already been done…
Beyond filming and editing ABD, you filmed a section, as well. How was it wearing both filmer and rider hats?
It is one of the hardest things to do. Being behind the lens all day thinking like a filmer and being in the mindset that you are not riding that day is really hard to break out of. There were a few times where we went to a spot that was too good to pass up and I had to really convince myself to get the clip because I was certain I wasn’t riding that day. I was also constantly making the calculation in my head about what’s best for the video is making sure everyone is happy with their footage—so there were many times where my own riding had to be put aside. I am definitely pretty hyped on what I got for the video. There are a lot of clips that I have been thinking about doing for a long time and finally got the chance to get them done. Unfortunately, there is a big list of things that I didn’t get done and things I had to walk away from which is upsetting, but there’s always the next video.
Travel wise, you covered some ground for ABD. Do you have standout destinations?
We went to quite a few places for this video. Our travels took us to Washington D.C., Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New York City, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nevada, The Dominican Republic, and all over Southern California. The trip to the Midwest stands out to me because it was amazing to see Elstran get four minutes of footage in ten days with relative ease—it was so impressive to see that in person. It’s kind of insane that his part was mostly filmed in one trip and if I didn’t mention that, there’s likely no way anyone would ever know. We hit a lot of places that have been ridden, but haven’t been filmed to death so it was a little easier to get things done and all of those trips and locations really stand out to me.
Were there any bumps in the road?
[Laughs] I don’t think that a project that goes on this long happens without a few bumps in the road. Fortunately, there were no major failures on my end of losing clips or fucking up the filming, which is something that I am pretty proud of. I saw both Taylor and Dan get heat stroke trying a trick in the heat for too long and pushing themselves too far. Heat stroke is no joke. The most recent bump in the road was when Dylan’s custom made media got lost in the mail. The tracking said it was delivered, but it never showed up to my house. Not sure who got the package of a bunch of old tapes that were painted on, but I am sure they thought they were getting something better than that. Bike failures were also relatively common. One of the crashes in the trailer to the video was Taylor trying this insane gap to smith from bench to bench that had to be like 12 feet long after hopping on a relatively short bench. The first time he basically sprocket-cased the gap and broke his fork. We took the fork off of my bike and he gave it another go. He came much closer, but destroyed his entire wheel—rim completely fucked and all of the spokes blown. The best part is that Taylor borrowed a fork for the rest of the trip and built a new wheel the next day and kept the shredding going the rest of the trip. That’s some serious dedication.
I’m assuming all the travel was team trips, with the exception of Dominican Republic to film Mike Hinkens. How did the DR trip go?
The DR trip was great—it felt just like the old days of riding with Mike every day. Kind of wasn’t even really a trip with the goal of filming for ABD, but of course it ended up happening. We filmed a video just from the trip which was just us going to spots and filming each other. Hitting new fresh spots made it pretty easy. We ended up saving some of the more interesting bits for ABD. Latin America is always a wild ride and the DR was no exception.
This is your first time editing a full-length video, how was that process?
Lots of ups and downs during the process. Some sections went together with no issues. Other ones were a battle to get done. I had some music selected very early in the process and others were last minute additions. Some sections had multiple drafts and I went through a bunch of iterations before landing on the final one. Knowing the video was being pressed to a disc and ending up in a physical form, it weighed heavily on me. A lot of money was spent on coffee and there was a lot of staring at the screen and driving myself crazy trying to figure out if what I was working on was even any good.
At over 50 minutes, ABD is a full-length and then some. Was a longer play video always the idea, or did it just work out that way?
I wouldn’t say it was the plan to have the video be this long. When we started we operated under the idea that whoever wanted to put in the work for a full part could. Knowing this was likely the last time we would get to make a DVD for the brand, we wanted that to be an option. As the process went on, parts started to take shape and there were quite a few sections more than originally anticipated and some of the sections ended up being long [laughs]. The dudes killed it so hard and the quality of the footage was so good that I wanted to make sure everyone got to see how hard they worked and that is reflected in the length, for sure.
The dreaded ABD always reveals itself at least once during a video project. Were ABDs actually an unfortunate theme of the video, a catchy title, or what?
The name of the video kind of came by accident. We originally were going to call it “Wait… What?!” After an inside joke between the crew and Dylan McCauley. He is always saying that when he is confused about something or didn’t quite hear what someone was saying. We thought it was hilarious because of the way he says it and we figured the name was cool anyway so we went with it. Then we realized Fit had a video in the UK named the same thing. I was frustrated and ended up saying, “Even the name of the video is ABD, we might as well just call it that.” The more we thought about it, the more it kind of seemed like a sick name. I know some of the crew wasn’t too hyped on the meaning and we kind of opened it up to the idea that since its just letters and it could mean anything you wanted it to. So it kind of grew from there. But yeah there were some ABDs that ended up happening over the course of the filming. Some people ended up getting it a lot worse than others, that’s for sure. I lost a clip I was really hyped on, Dylan lost at least one, and Jesse lost a few. One of Jesse’s was the worst because he did the trick first and then after seeing some guys at the spot, we informed them what he did, but then their clip ended up getting used anyway. Needless to say, we were bummed and frustrated by their lack of respect, but what can you do? We went back out in the final hour and got a clip to take its place. It’s part of the game, but it can be incredibly frustrating when you’ve spent so much time on something and it just gets taken away from you.
Despite spending a lot of time behind a camera, I feel like you’re still better known for your riding. Who are some fellow rider/filmers who you’re psyched on—for their filming, riding, or both?
First of all, let me say, thank you, because I have been filming basically the entire time I have been riding so I see myself as both, but its’ a honor to be known more for riding. Being a rider/filmer is not easy, being able to do both well is a balancing act that most people don’t even really try to dabble with professionally. Calvin [Kosovich] is one of the few who has managed to make it work. His work is of a high caliber and I don’t think you could say he lacks in the riding department since nearly every section he has filmed for he has gone in on. Vans Shimmer was an awesome project and it got me so stoked to ride and also to film. Other than Calvin most of my favorite filmers have primarily dedicated their time to filming which I completely understand.
Tell us a little about your gear, I know it’s pretty bare bones compared to what a lot of filmers are using these days. Any specific reason for what your using and not using…
I definitely have a fairly basic and classic set up. There are a few reasons for this. One is that gear is expensive and I just don’t have the money to invest in more expensive, fancier gear. I really only like filming BMX so it doesn’t make sense to invest 20-30k in gear to get paid the rates that BMX companies are willing to pay—that’s just the reality. The second and most important is that I am a fan of classic BMX and skate videos. Most of them are based around having a camcorder with a zoom rocker and a fisheye. When I was growing up that is what I learned how to use and as I got older and updated my gear I have kind of kept it in the same family. Right before this project I realized that my favorite lens to use is a fisheye so I invested in the best one I could buy for my set up and it was the best decision I have ever made. Nothing gets me more hyped than a well filmed fisheye clip. That lens is perfect for action sports. Properly accentuates the spot and the action. It simply just feels like a BMX video and not a bigger production and that’s always what I am going for. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t use a gimbal for some shots if I had one. I just don’t think that purchasing one for BMX specific work is something that makes financial sense for me.
From the very beginning of the project, up through filming the last clip, all the time editing, and finally going to the premiere…With your first DVD officially under your belt, how does it feel?
It’s a weird feeling, honestly. As the end of the project was coming up it was all encompassing. It was literally all I could think about and finishing it felt pretty great. The premiere was the perfect way to cap the whole process off and I couldn’t have been more stoked on how it all went down. But now that it’s all over with and it’s just in the selling it phase, I can’t help but feel like “what’s next?” Since it has been done and over with for months now it feels like ages ago even though it’s still a new video. My mind is just always thinking about what’s next and since this project took so long it was nice to be solely focused on getting it done, but now I am left trying to find the next thing to work on.
Looking back, would you have done anything different?
I did a lot right which is surprising considering it was my first DVD. I did a good job of having my ears open for music the entire time. In fact, I had some of the music picked out before I even really had this project on my plate. I do wish that I had started editing before I did. I really like to have all the footage before I sit down to edit—which was problematic because everyone got clips in the final stretch. If I was going to do it over again, I would definitely have been messing with the footage earlier—simply so I was comfortable with it. I also would have liked to have had more knowledge on how to author a DVD and all of the disasters that can come along with that—mostly the programs not existing for modern computers. Thankfully Walter Pieringer is a computer genius and he helped us work through that problem. Hinkens took the reigns on the DVD authoring and he literally took a crash course through the program and went from no knowledge to being dialed by the end of the process. I am sure that he could learn anything if he was motived enough to learn it.