Two Years In The Life Of A Full-Length Filmer
Peter Adam and Still United
Photos by Fred Murray Intro photo by Jack Birtles
DIG family member Peter Adam is a self-confessed video nerd. In fact if there's ever something i'm not sure about BMX history wise, Pete is the man i call. He's been at it since a young age starting out with his TRV 900 and century mini fish in hand and a wise crack sense of humour, so who better to call when you need a full-length guy? That's exactly what United's bossman Ian Morris did three years back when the Still United DVD was in it's planning stages, and Pete was quick to hang up the postman bag and load up the camera bag for his first filming trip to Malaga in December 2013. So with only a few days until the world premiere in Hastings UK, we sat Mr Adam down to get a feel for what goes into an epic full-length adventure like Still United...
When did you get the call about filming the video?
I was on a Nike/Figure trip in Lisbon, Portugal mid November 2013 and Ian phoned. I've known Ian for about 17-18 years so I thought he was ringing me about doing a video for 4Down, I had done a couple of things previously. When he asked if I wanted to film the next full length United DVD, I couldn't believe it, he mentioned James was moving on from 4Down/United, all on good terms to start a tattoo shop, I immediately said yes! I phoned James, who I've been friends with for years and knew what a huge part of United he'd been, he wished me luck, gave me a few pointers and two weeks later I was on my first United trip to Malaga!
Did you know the team before starting to film for the project?
I knew Corey well from my Federal days, I'd been to Hong Kong with Nathan, met Christian at Simple session before, met Geoff a few times randomly on trips/jams over the years and met Alex in 2004 when he was about 15 doing 900's at a Rebel jam in Berlin haha so yeah I knew the guys a bit and what I was getting myself into. Jeff joined the team early on in the project and he stayed at my house in Ireland for over a week and straight away we got on like a house on fire. The rest of the guys where a pleasure to meet, film and hang out with.
Where did you travel to and what was the time scale from start to finish?
First trip was to Malaga in December 2013, then Tenerife Jan 2014, Arizona/San Diego in Feb/March, London March, Barcelona April, Ireland May, New jersey June, Paris July, Northern California August, Denver September, I went on a FIT trip to Portugal in October, Seville November, San Diego December, February 2015 Tel Aviv, April Albuquerque, May France, June New Jersey, July UK, August Paris, September Nashville, October I got a very rough edit of the whole video together, November California, December 2015 - January 2016 edited until my eyeballs bleed.
Most challenging rider to get footage of?
When your working on a full length DVD and all the riders are pushing themselves to do the absolute best they can, almost every clip becomes a challenge. From Christians crazy rail set ups, that sometimes took days to pull due to security, day light or pure exhaustion to Geoff who was always looking for unique set ups to Nathan who takes THE gnarliest slams, getting right back up again and again and again. I'd say everybody had their own challenges, I just had to be ready every time to capture the one!
Who pushed themselves the most?
I could give you several stories about every rider, obviously everyone pushed themselves to the physical and often mental edge at some point over the last two years but I'd have to say Nathan pushed the envelope the most. He's had permanently bandaged hands, cut up elbows and he got knocked out a few times during filming and he just kept getting up for more, the boy is tough as nails!
How high tech is your gear?
I've moved on a bit from my precious trv900 with a Century mini fish but I like to keep things pretty simple with a couple of DSLR bodies, fisheye, 50mm, 24-70mm and Panasonic video camera. I very much wanted to make a classic bmx video, keep everything clean and simple, let the riding do the talking.
I'm a self confessed video nerd and to be able to film riders of this level for a project this big is just really something very very special...
- Peter Adam
Biggest shot you blew?
I always had two, sometimes three angles on every trick and a couple of times the second angle didn't work out, the camera shutting off into power save mode both times as the rider was getting ready to go. But nothing too major luckily enough.
Scariest clip filmed?
Oh boy, there where a lot, like I was physically shaking on some of the run ups but Ians big rail in Glasgow might have been the scariest. Not that I doubt Ians rail ability, if you put all the rails he's slide end to end it would stretch to the moon and back but that set up on that day was scary. We had cruised around Glasgow all day, filmed a couple of things then Ian turned the corner and saw this really, really steep aluminium rail. He had his "chillin" shorts and shoes on, he even had to borrow a pair of socks (pre worn) from fernando and he had never slide an aluminium rail before. He rode up to it a few times, it had a really short, awkward run up, he said it was too weird a rail so I started packing my gear up then he shouted "Fuck It" ran back up the stairs circled once then slide it perfect!
The best trip is hard to say, they where all good in there own ways, It was pretty crazy going on a bmx trip nearly every month for over two years but I loved the diversity of scenes I got to experience. One month I'd be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, filming in ditches in the middle of the desert, then the next month I'd be downtown Paris.
The worst trip is easier to place, the last trip in November 2015 to California. Corey broke his collar bone, Nathan knocked himself out, Christian tweaked his ankle really bad and that was only the first two days. Geoff took a really bad slam to the ribs on day three that took him out the rest of the trip, we then drove north to San francisco where Nathan had to get an emergency root canal (twice) then the van got broken into at a school while we where riding a spot there and Christians generator and my bike got stolen and Ian had to pay for replacement windows for the van, fun times.
... as someone once said, I've seen too much to go back.
- Peter Adam
Is the worst day as a bmx filmer better than the best as a postman?
In short YES! There's a lot more to it than that though, I've worked multiple jobs since leaving school at 16 but through all that time I've always had a burning passion for bmx and filming. Becoming a full-time "bmx filmer" was never a reality in my mind or even on my radar as a "job" but with the dawn of the Internet and being very lucky with opportunities, at the age of 29 I was able to take that risky leap and quit my last job, which happened to be a postman for Royal Mail (good hours, steady pay and kept me fit) and pursue my passion for bmx and filming. It's a bumpy uncertain road but to have been given this opportunity by Ian to film a full length DVD is just incredible, I'm a self confessed video nerd and to be able to film riders of this level for a project this big is just really something very very special and I appreciated every moment of it.
Favourite place to film?
Anywhere, everywhere, in a ditch, bottom of a stair set, up a tree, if I'm filming I'm happy
Plans after the premier?
I've been so focused on getting the video finished I haven't thought about it too much, In the bmx world it seems you can't plan ahead much more than a fortnight anyway haha. Continue on with filming with the whole United crew, just keep on keeping on, try not to end up back at the Post Office, as someone once said, I've seen too much to go back.
The awesome STILL UNITED is available to buy here here on DVD or Digital Download.
20 Photos From 20 Still United trips: By Peter Adam
The Importance Of A Tight-Knit Crew On The Road
Ian Morris Talks Still United