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BTS of Cinema 'Terminal': A Chat with Peter Adam

Photos provided by PA, intro by MV. 

Welcome to the LUXBMX Journal where we try to focus our attention as much as possible on the Australian BMX scene, particularly our local area. We're also light on our feet, versatile, dynamic, explorative - so much so that we sometimes offer up international content, and sometimes that content comes in the form of a discussion with celebrated videographer, Peter Adam, on his latest project 'Terminal'.

A 4.15 long video featuring the impossibly enduring Nathan Williams, following the dude as he takes in both coasts of the United States as well as Barcelona. The video is exactly what you would expect, which could be perceived as dull, however when you're level is so high, that you can continually reach such heights is far from dull. This is cutting edge BMX professionalism; dedication, creativity and technical proficiency. As Jay Roe once aptly spoke when describing Nathan's video output and riding style, "it should never be overlooked, how easy he makes bike riding looks, and how nice his video parts look. It should never be overlooked how hard and how, at times, traumatising that you have to go through to create what he's created. That shouldn't be overlooked. It's easy to overlook that because you can't see it, it's monumental."

Couldn't have put it better myself. Anyway, I wanted to get in touch with Peter to get a deeper understanding of what goes into making a video like this. It's awesome to watch the final product, a beautifully packaged gift that is manufactured to entertain and delight, but it isn't the full picture. After hearing from Peter, touching on topics such as organising the trips, what a typical day is like filming with Nathan, to setting a shot up, I hope you too can broaden your perspective around the gravity of a project like this. It is as Jay says, monumental.

Take it away Pete.

The video rules man, which feels silly to say as it's entirely inevitable. What is the goal from your perspective when setting out on a project with a god-esque rider like Nathan? It must surely remain exciting and challenging. I do wonder though, is there an apprehension based around trying to be creatively progressive or do you simply focus on the basics, i.e. high quality riding and shooting it as best as possible.

Thanks Mike, yeah you say inevitable but at the very very start it never feels that way haha. Yeah when I start out shooting a section with someone like Nathan, it's exciting as I know Nathan's going to take care of the riding but challenging as I put pressure on myself to try and get the riding across the best I can. With a rider like Nathan I can focus on the high quality riding and try and get the gnarliness across the best I can. I always keep in mind I'm filming for other people to watch, so I try to give them a sense of being there.

No doubt all projects are different, but for this particular one - can you detail how it came about and how it's managed to completion? For example, are you tasked with planning locations, flights, accommodation and timeframes? I see that this video involved trips to each side of the US as well as Spain.

Each project is completely different but with this one Jay Roe mentioned it to me when we were filming the Cinema team trip 'Back to Back' in Boston a few months previous. Nathan had ideas to film in New York, Barcelona and San Francisco, three incredible cities so I was up for it straight away and had a loose travel theme for the video.

Our first trip to Barcelona that summer, everything was going great the first few days...then Nathan had one of the gnarliest crashes I've ever witnessed (the footage will never be seen). So that trip was cut short, (that's when I was able to film the Colin Adidas video 'Cruising Barcelona') I have to mention though, three weeks later Nathan and I won the E-Fise video contest in Glasgow and that was his first time riding again since the fall.

We then went to NYC In October, energy was high, everyone was hyped, Corey Martinez came along too. We arrived on the first day and it was pissing down with rain so we went out anyway to have a cruise around and found a little DIY plaza thing. Nathan wanted a game of BMX but I was super jet lagged and it was soaking but after a bit he convinced me. I set a footplant 180 up a two stair, Nathan goes for it, his foot slips out in the wet and he buckles/bends his knee on the step in the most awkward/painful looking way and can't ride the rest of the trip...I was super worried he had really done it in, ACL or something but after a scan it turned out to be a really bad sprain. I filmed Corey the rest of the NYC trip and hung out with Ratkid, Edwin, Austin, Calvin, Dak (who was filming for his Vans part) and Matt Miller, thanks guys!

After that we did our trip to SF and that was amazing, perfect weather, spots, everything just came together, we then finished the video off with a trip to San Diego and Las Vegas and he just fired stuff off everyday. With flights and admin, sometimes I book them, find airbnbs etc. but with this project Nathan knew where he wanted to go, we just worked on dates and Cinema booked them.

Battle clip. I'm sure it makes us mere mortals feel aeons of sadness when Nathan seemingly does everything, wherever, whenever. Can you please ease our frail souls and detail a clip or two that took some work to make happen?

That footplant 180 up a two stair haha. He got absolutely melted into the ground on quite a few things but the ones that come to mind are a couple of the Vegas clips, the flair and the downside pegs/disaster revert line. With the flair, it took him a while to actually work out how to get the right bump off the parking block at the top of the lil tranny bank and commit to going upside down, after that it was just trial and error. It took maybe 40-50 goes, taking it to the hip, going OTB, looping out until he pulled it perfectly.

The downside pegs line was difficult, well because he's trying to downside pegs a sub in a ditch but the sun was right in his eyes, the sub was super rough and he slid out a load, taking it to the hip and elbow multiple times. Finally got the downside pegs then wanted to add something to it, being the disaster revert. He did that first go, probably one of my favourite clips. We had been to see Willy Nelson's live 90th birthday tour the night before and that's why he's wearing the t-shirt.

Troy 'Big Salad' Charlesworth and I were talking recently about framing a shot, with Troy noting that he is focussed on wider shots these days, really considering your surroundings and giving the viewer an understanding of the broader location. I'm interested to know how you approach a spot - what are your objectives when preparing angles and why? For example the fakie ledge ride at 1.00 - a super wide shot which takes advantage of various lines in the building facade, as well as the various shades of blue and textures. Equally, the panning-wide shot at 2.33 is amazing.

Yeah like I mentioned in the first question, I always try to keep the viewer in mind. For example, I got to the famous clipper ledge in SF seeing it for the first time and i was instantly like wow this is a really nice building, I've never seen it from this angle before, so I tried getting that across in that wide shot, trying to get a different angle on it and showing off the spot with the wide shot. We also bumped into Tyshawn Jones at the spot and I got a quick 8mm clip of him in there too, trying to tell a bit of a story. The ditch In Vegas was so vast I was trying to get that across too with the wide shot, cutting to the tight. But yeah I'm always looking at spots and figuring out ways to film them best for the trick, trying to get different elements in and portray that energy through the screen.

I often think about this, having now watched BMX videos for around 20 years. Where do you think filming will end up in the future, does it feel like there is a limit to what you can do with a BMX part? Like how many different ways can you film a rail and splice it with HD and Super 8?

I think about this a lot too and even though the filming style might not change drastically (there are quite a few unwritten rules) the riding will. So, filming a line rolling fish in 2023 will be similar to filming a line rolling fish in 2033, but they will look so much different. Watching a riders newest section will always be exciting!
With certain projects though, I like to take a bit of a creative risk with themes, intros, and filming styles. With so much out there you've nothing really to lose. Funny you mention the 8mm thing, I'd never used one before Nathan and I filmed our X-Games Real BMX 2020, it's not the most original thought in the world but I'd always wanted to use one. Everything looks sick, there fun to use and I thought it was a good way to tell the story between the tricks. Not sure I'll use it again though.

Can you offer a glimpse as to what it's like being on the road with you and Nathan. Is it strictly business when you're on filming trips or do you balance the BMX out with sight-seeing and chilling? Perhaps you could use the Barcelona trip as an example.

Each trip is completely different, on team trips I might as well not bring my bike as there's no time for riding between filming but when I'm filming one person (happens very very rarely) it's pretty chill. In Barcelona we were staying with Jay Roe near MACBA, so we'd get up, have some breakfast, meet up with some locals, cruise round the city, ride spots here and there. Sometimes Nathan had something in mind so we'd cruise towards that area or sometimes we'd stumble across a spot and he'd fire something out. Honestly, it's just like going out riding with your friends but he's doing some of the gnarliest stuff and I'm filming it haha. After a few heavy days we'd maybe hit the beach for a swim first thing but we'd always try and get at least one thing everyday.

Any memorable moments you'd care to share from 'Terminal'? I think it would also be cool to get a sense from you as to the clip/s that stand out the most to you and why? For what it's worth, I loved the drain line (down pegs to disaster fakie) and the way the nose bonk to crooks down the huge rail was filmed (particularly the setup shot).

Honestly, traveling to some of the best cities in the world with some of the best riders in the world is just incredible. There's quite a few stand out moments/clips, from the first clip of the massive rail ride in SF (he did that pretty quick and shoutout Mike Garcia for icing it) to the guest clips of Corey and Chad, each one had a whole day surrounding them, waking up, finding a good coffee spot, scoping them out, figuring out angles, security, random people, shooting the shit, to what food spot to eat at after haha.

It's hard to pick them out but yeah the drain line is one of my favourite clips too, spent pretty much the whole day in that ditch, riding it, playing BMX, listening to music, watching the sun setting on the mountains all around it. The crook clip was wild too, I got stuck on the roof above figuring out angles haha. I wanted to really show the nosebonk into it, the roof had a crazy overhang so it was easy to get on but hard to get off again. Nathan took some crazy slams straight into the ground on that one, shook them off and did it perfectly. Oh the last clip too, the gap to rail ride to bar off. We were just in that area and Jay mentioned he thinks there's a spot in a housing complex. So we jumped the fence, kept real quiet, saw the spot and he did it pretty quick before we got the boot. Almost every clip has some sort of story around it.

Any plans to come to Australia in the future? Bring the big fella and come to Brisbane, the boys would foam at the mouth to show you guys around.

Maaaaaate, I would LOVE to go back to Australia, I've been a few times times before but haven't been since about 2008, stayed with the 'Drain Kids' back in the day, filmed a Thorneside scene report for Props back then too haha, I could carry Big Salads camera bag if he got me a flight out there.

There you have it - huge thanks to Peter for taking the time to deliver on this one. Now that you have a deeper understanding of what went into this project, maybe you'll have a different perspective when re-watching this project.