Few companies enjoy a following like Chromag. Sure, the company makes smart components, but it’s more than that. There’s a kind of die-hard brand loyalty that is so often lacking in an industry that is often fixated on bling, techno-babble and fads. We spoke with filmmaker, Rupert Walker, on the release of this new Chromag video, aptly titled, “Family Album Volume 1.”
Bike: Where did the idea for the new video come from?
Rupert Walker: Reece Wallace—he's the team manager of Chromag. It was originally Reece's idea to get everyone together and shoot a video pairing riders whose styles complemented one another. Ian (Ritz, Chromag’s founder) came up with the idea of calling it a family album.
Bike: Why did Ian call it a family album? Why not "Shredathon 5000" or "Krusty Demons of Dirt Part 34"? Something more overtly rad? Does he really see the people who ride his products as being part of a family?
Rupert: Some companies look at riders and expect them to just generate profit or maybe see them as just a marketing tool that they want to shape and conform to the company's vision. That's not Ian or Chromag's way. Ian sees people for who they are, he sees the best in them, and lets them be that way. He really cares about his riders, his filmmakers and his employees—Chromag is almost less of a company and more like a miniature community. Everyone in that circle knows each other. The name for the video really stems from what Chromag truly is—a family.
Bike: You mentioned that the movie is designed to pair riders that complemented one another. How did you decide who'd ride with whom?
Rupert: Well, we came up with idea, but the riders chose the pairing themselves. The riders really know best. It starts off with Mark and Aggy. Mark Matthews just sends it. He's not afraid at all. And Aggy? Shit, Aggy is Aggy. He just kills it. He's a legend—he's famous for sending it.
The next paring was Kyle Jameson and Eric Lawrenuk, and those twos personalities complement each other really well—they're both laid back and happy people. It's not necessarily the riding styles that we were looking to complement one other, but the people. That's the family dynamic at work again.
The final pairing was Wink Grant and Ryan Howard. Those two are the steeziest dirt jumpers in mountain biking right now. They have hands down the best style these days.
Bike: What were you aiming for with this video?
Rupert: When they first approached me about this, I didn't want to do it. I did a Mark Matthews video earlier in the year and it did well, but I knew that this late in the season the lighting would be spotty and the trails blown out. It didn't sound like the best idea, but as we started to get the riders together, it became less about capturing the perfect image and more about shooting my friends and having fun.
Bike: What do you want people to take away from the video?
Rupert: I want people to get the sense of what Chromag is all about. They really truly are about family and having a good time and not taking things too seriously. I feel like this video represents the vibe of the company.
It's funny, Ian is very precise about the components he makes—almost obsessive and super detail oriented, but when it comes to dealing with the people who are involved with Chromag, it's totally different. It's this great, loose gathering of people. I want people to know that Chromag really cares about their riders. They are not your average mountain bike component company.
Bike: Well, what struck me about this video is that there are no overt Chromag component plugs in here at all—it's all about the riders themselves. That's pretty unusual.
Rupert: Exactly! And that's one of the reasons why these riders really want to represent the company. Some people could get paid extra money to run other companies' stuff, but they run Chromag because they care about it and they know that Chromag has their back too. It's family. That's really why this is called the Family Album.