By Seb Kemp
Clay Porter is a busy man who always has projects on the go. Intrigued by a recent Instagram image he posted of him with the legendary filmmaker Spike Jonze (above), and then the sneaky release of Four By Three, an exclusive series of four short stories about the Athertons produced by Clay Porter for Red Bull Media House, I figured it was time to find out really what he is up to, what is coming next, and what does Spike Jonze smell like.
I managed to track Porter down by phone where he was driving on the Interstate 5 North to his home in San Francisco where he planned to celebrate his first birthday at home with his pals since 2005.
"Dude, this is crazy, this is the first World Champs or World Cup I will have missed since 2005,” said Porter. “Normally I spend my birthday in Europe somewhere because the World Championships are on but this year I'm spending it at home"
However, he isn't turning his back on mountain biking just yet. Instead this year is spent focusing on some bigger developments which Clay sees as logical progression in his own career.
"This has been a transition year. It has been super exciting but so busy. Basically I want to make more money and progress myself. I have achieved some of the goals I set out to do, but now I want to hone my craft as a film maker. This year I've invested a lot of time and money on things like a RED camera because it needed to be done"
Does this mean Clay is moving into more mainstream movie making? What was he doing with Spike Jonze?
"I met Ty Evans at the NAB trade show (the Interbike of filmmaking equipment basically). Ty Evans has worked with Spike Jonze on projects like Fully Flared in the past and he introduced me to Spike. They [Spike Jonze and Ty Evans] are in the process of wrapping up their four years in the making, epic skateboard movie and I got in on some shoots to help out."
So is it true what they say about meeting your heroes? That it is always a disappointment? Clay doesn't think so.
"It's cool to see how they do things. It’s refreshing to see that they aren't that different and there is not magic. They do things loose and fly by the seat of the pants sometimes. It is good to see that as a film maker you have to plan, but still be flexible and open to just going along with how things unfold."
Also, released today was the trailer for Four By Three. Clay has worked alongside the Atherton's for years, producing the Atherton Project for several years, so why the change of focus?
"Red Bull decided not to do the Atherton Project this year. We talked (Athertons and I) about what we could pitch to Red Bull instead. The Atherton Project was always a scramble to pull together the content. Episodes would come out every two weeks, which is a recipe to get out a lot of content but maybe not the best content. With Four By Three the production value is higher and it is more about a cinematic approach. Something a bit different than a lot of stuff out there these days."
It is true that every team has a videographer churning out videos of the race weekend and most high profile racers have dedicated web shows. When the Atherton Project came out originally it was unique and perhaps created a template for others to follow.
"I wanted to shift away from that style. There a lot of people doing it now. We also got burnt on it. It was so tiring and we wanted to do something that was psyched up."
The four episodes are in the works with the first one being released on 11th September 2012. The first episode will be based around Rachel Atherton's time at Fort William, that race being the Atherton's home race as such. The second is about Dan's shift to Enduro and will have lots of footage filmed at the Megavalanche and then around Europe in the summer. The third episode is focused on Gee and his Rampage experience. The last episode will be on all three siblings and their home life.
So what’s next after all that wraps? Well, Clay is not bored with bikes yet. Also on the to-do list is to get Won't Back Down (the Steve Peat biopic that he has been co-working on with John Lawlor) completed this winter.
Also for action fans there is going to be a Brendan Fairclough mini movie released this fall. It will be an I-Tunes exclusive and will cost only a couple of dollars. Clay is very excited about this one, as the production process has proven so much fun so far.
"It is an interesting project, a cool project. He [Brendan Fairclough] is honestly one of my favorite riders to shoot. He is so into filming and he makes everything look so good."
So there we have it, more to come from Clay in mountain bikes. Maybe we will even see him release another mega-doco-slash-action flick about World Cup racing next year? Time will tell.