Without much debate, it is safe to say that that the movies The Collective and Roam are two of the most popular and influential mountain bike films of all time. These films tapped into the psyche of our diverse culture and resonate with both old school soul riders and the new gondola-riding generation. These films motivated us to ride and helped give mountain biking its own distinctive voice in the infinite sea of action sport cinema.
With their latest film, Seasons, The Collective has taken somewhat of a different approach though the finished product is just as inspiring. Like its predecessors, Seasons is a film that above all, makes you want to get out and ride.
Seasons is the story of seven pro riders and the challenges they face over the course of a year. The film follows World Cup racer Steve Peat, freeriders Matt Hunter, Thomas Vanderham, Darren Berrecloth, Cameron McCaul, up and comer Canadian DH racer and all round nice guy Steve Smith and industry legend Andrew Shandro.
The film premiered last month at the Baghdad Theatre in Portland, Oregon to a packed house of crazed fans. It seems every time Jamie and Darcy and the rest of The Collective crew roll through town, Portland comes out in droves to support what they are doing.
And the crowd was not disappointed. The film truly gives the viewer an insight of what it takes to be a world-class rider. It starts with Steve Peat pedaling a trainer in is home of Northern England during the off-season and instantly the viewer is taken aback by the site of Peaty pedaling a stationary bike. Where are the jumps? The big hucks? This is what makes all of The Collective’s films so distinctive. They come at the art of filmmaking from a different angle and some how, time after time, pull it off flawlessly. Like their previous works, Seasons is filled with rider commentary and interviews and it does an excellent job of de-glamorizing the life of a pro. Hard work, dedication and the desire to improve are the underlining messages throughout the film.
Matt Hunter has been on somewhat of a rampage as of late. One of the reigning kings of big mountain riding Hunter amazed the Baghdad fans and won the biggest applause of the night for his insanely huge and technical step-down gap in interior British Columbia. The lip of that kicker had to be at least 15-feet tall and it resembles something a backcountry snowboarder would boost more than Johnny Insano on a mountain bike. But Hunter demonstrated his skill, poise and confidence pinning the jump, styling it nicely and stomping the landing.
Other highlights included Thomas Vanderham giving us a glimpse of where the sport is going with his outer worldly dirt course that consisted of nothing but gigantic and almost inconceivably large hips, step downs, step ups and doubles. The course is spread out over acres of land and from the aerial shots looks like it could only be ridden with an engine strapped between your legs. Vanderham even comments on how he might not have enough gears to reach his maximum speed to hit one of the jumps. But, like Hunter, Vanderham rises to the challenge and displays why he is one of the best.
Andrew Shandro once again proves that he still has what it takes to hang with the kids after all these years. The viewer is given a little of his personal history ala 90s’ X-games footage where he raced in the snow and even earlier footage from the California downhill scene. Shandro rides the North Shore, making every turn, air and steep section look like a casual ride down a beach boardwalk.
Cam McCaul and Darren Berrecloth both give us some insight into pool/lake jumping, offering up ways for the 9-5 pro freerider to improve his jumping prowess. The differences are obvious however; McCaul is a California kid who practices jumping into his heated pool at home while Berrecloth is a rugged Canadian lad who has to don a wetsuit and hoody to carry out his water jumping into a mountain lake with roaring fire near by.
This film also helped introduce Steve Smith to the non-racing side of the sport. Smith has been garnering quite a bit of attention lately, signing with Red Bull and putting up nice results on the downhill circuit, but it was his 2nd place finish at the Mount 7 Psychosis race in Golden, British Columbia that made his part. Dubbed “The World’s Most Demented Mountain Bike Race” Smith puts up an impressive finish just behind Australia’s 2-time World Cup champ Sam Hill, one of, if not the fastest DH racer in the world.
Seasons truly is a unique and never-done-before angle of making a mountain bike film. The storyline lets the viewer into the lives of a pro’s day-to-day schedule while training and competing over the course of a year and the superb soundtrack, classic Collective filming and editing and world-class riders will put it right up there on the shelf with their previous works in the pantheon of mountain bike cinema.
If you haven’t seen the Seasons trailer yet go HERE.