This one time, at Gorge Road, a famous local trail-builder said to me that filmmakers and photographers were bottom-feeders, true story… and although I can’t quite remember what “They” said next, I did kind of know what they meant. It’s far too easy for aspiring filmmakers or riders for that matter, to pick up a camera and go “Poach” or “Bottom Feed” off other people’s hard work. Besides, if you truly want to get noticed the best way is to have original (badass) content that people will remember. How many Whistler A-Line edits does the world need? But of course like A-Line, “They” the Gorge Road trail-builders, were getting paid to dig for the general public to use and film on.
This is where filming Conor Macfarlane is great as a filmmaker, he made it so easy to have original footage! He puts in just as much work on the shovel to create something new for his edits as he does on the bike, and every one of his projects shows this. That’s why we all get excited to see his latest edits.
Conor’s section for the South is 3 minutes 18 seconds and of that only 18 seconds is of other trail-builders’ work (the downhill bit in the middle of the section on the Remarkable’s track). Everything else he had built pretty much on his own! (I think Eddie Masters helped a bit on Dunedin part of the section, and his girlfriend in the last part for the secret Central Otago location). The three times I traveled to film Conor I was never disappointed. In his first edit back in 2009/10 he didn’t have that much time to build much original stuff, but what he did build paid off big-time. The step-down jump he had built and backflipped was what got him noticed and sponsored by Wide Open.
Conor Macfarlane on filming:
“Filming is something that I, as a rider, get a lot of satisfaction out of. Generally during filming you progress your riding and tick off a bunch of ‘things’ which have been on your mind ever since you decided that you were going to make a video. The more you put into a video, the more you get out of it, and the more you push yourself and ride stuff out of your comfort zone, the more the end product will mean to you.
For what you get at the end of the day, filming is a long process. Either the filmer or the rider may need to do another take for a multitude of reasons or maybe another angle is needed: these factors and more can make for each shot take up a lot more time than it shows on screen. So, the filming process can take a long time but so can the editing. Not only editing actually, colour grading, sound mixing etc all take up a lot of time and on a high-end video they are almost mandatory these days.
For me what takes up the most time is the prep/build of whatever I shoot on, don’t get me wrong though, I still shoot on a bunch of pre-made features/trails but the end product never means as much as one which you have spent countless hours on a spade preparing for. For this reason I like to get out there, find a zone, and build features which challenge me to progress. Digging and playing around in the dirt has always been a pastime which I have enjoyed, growing up as a little kid I was always out playing around in the dirt so I guess what I do now is just the next evolution of that. There is something very rewarding about getting out there, scoping a line, envisioning what you want to do on it and how it would look on film, and then riding it and hopefully nailing what you had envisioned.
As I said before, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it! Not everything in life comes easy so if you want something to be proud of, put in the hard yards.”