Music to Memory: TCU 'Y&R' X Portishead 'Dummy' Reading Focalpoint 'Clocked In': Behind the Scenes with Leon Sablinskis 10 minutes Next What's Good? Luke Snelling X 'How Hard Is It'

Focalpoint 'Clocked In': Behind the Scenes with Leon Sablinskis

Intro by Mike V, photos contributed by Leon Sablinskis

If I'm being honest, I've never had a hard copy of 'Clocked In' and would have only caught it through friends as well as bits and pieces online. Nonetheless, I've sniffed a smell of this video, one that leads me to form the view that the project has been highly influential to shaping the Australian BMX scene, as well as cementing the status of Focalpoint BMX as a driving force in this arena. If ya know, ya know kinda shit. 

Having recently noticed the full upload making it's way to the internets, no doubt was this thing going to make its way to the LUXBMX Journal. However, it would seem contemptible to simply throw it up with very limited value-add. I wanted to explore the project, poke around the edges, cock an ear, breathe in the wafting surrounds, to better understand the makings. In my opinion, this is the most interesting part of a full-length project like this one. 

So, I got in touch with the dude who edited and produced the video, none other than one of the Focalpoint (and Melbourne scene) OGs, Leon Sablinskis. No longer entrenched in the BMX scene, the dude was extremely helpful in putting this together, assisting to offer a unique perspective around how the passion for creating these projects came about, the workings of producing a video decades past as well as the personal influences which helped to shape the Focalpoint brand. 

Enjoy some Australian BMX history courtesy of Leon Sablinskis (LS), the photos alone should pique your interest. 


Some of the FP crew involved with 'Clocked In', from left to right, Coops, Daniel Johnson, Jase Bannon and Troy Jackson

So where did it all begin, well, as you might expect, that's where we started this discussion with LS talking to the first series of interactions with Cooper Brownlee - the leading figure and owner of Focalpoint. As LS explains:

"I first met Cooper around 2000-2001. Both living on the Lilydale train line, we would run into each other at Croydon Hills trails, Lilydale bowl and H.E Parker trails. This is pre-internet days so seeing another rider in the wild was rare. Coops was running with his crew Ryan 'Boogs' McCormack and Al Briotti (RIP), making videos etc and we were doing the same.

One day at Croydon Hills trails, Coops rocked up with a homemade paper Focalpoint sticker to the top tube of his S&M NG Dirtbike. He was keen to get a free 'zine going and my brother Andrei and I got behind it to help get it off the ground. The first issue was printed through my dad who ran 50 or so copies off the printer at his work at Telstra.

I stayed involved with the early issues of the mag and edited the first 3 FP DVDs." 

The big fella (Coops) checking the footage from what looks like a Sony TRV900, gangster shit

Pretty awesome to get that insight into the early beginnings of what would become a productive and meaningful relationship, spanning many future projects to come and featuring a tonne of the best riders to come out of Australia. Through curiousity, I wanted to understand how it all began, at a time when making videos was certainly not as commonplace as 2024. Through LS:

"Back in 1997, my brother and I sold our first un-named VHS tapes at race meets across Victoria for $10 bucks. These were made up of local trails in Box Hill, Dimo etc and race footage. Through racing we would meet Stuart Dolley, Michael Bowes (RIP) and Paul Manzie. Meeting like minded riders would lead to being exposed to more spots, again pre-internet you only ever had the closest train station and some landmarks to go off to find trails or skateparks.

This would lead to the making of our second full length 'The Darkest Hour' around 2000 which Michael Bowes had the last part in. From here it would go from VHS into DVD where we dropped 'Evidence' 2001-ish, which was then followed by 'Meet Your Enemies' in 2004. 'Meet your Enemies' is turning 20 this year and looking back, it's the best project we ever released. It was a great time in BMX and was the first video we all properly filmed for.

From here I went on to edit the first 3 FP DVDs 'What', 'Clocked In' and 'The Waiting List'."

Damn this is sick, the Box Hill Pride (BHP) set

Troy Jackson, downship whip Bundoora bank, kinda spot you can hang at and enjoy for hours by the looks

Another one of the FP stalwarts, the character that is Chris 'Flagz' Matthews, inner feebs with disregard for bin shin

Dude has some serious history with putting in work for the Australian BMX scene. I had a vague idea of the 'Sablinskis' name but never knew the extent of their involvement - largely as a result of the generational gap and being located in different states. 

Moving on, I was also interested to understand the experience of editing with technology from 20 years ago, noting that these days the access to and cost of editing software and a machine to work on, as well as the ability to research and diagnose problems, is vastly improved. LS explains:

"Everything was self taught, trial and error. The first video which we sold at the races in 1997 were tape to tape, so 2 VCR's and stop-start recording. We progressed from this to editing on a computer through a buzz capture card, this was a struggle based off the computer processing power but a break through was being able to have music over the top and still keep the riding sounds in. We then got our hands on a cracked version of Adobe Premiere 6.0 which I would use to edit everything up until the end."  

LS in da lab - so cool to get an idea of what the editing spot was like

Street missions are the best, Troy Jackson and Flagz enjoying the ride

Equally of note, and something quite rare in the BMX film space, is the arrangement whereby the video was largely filmed by Cooper (with assistance from the crew), however edited by LS. This is unique in that, from what I understand, LS was generally absent from the actual riding however tasked with the role of putting the video together. The job of teasing out the atmosphere of the moment and bleeding this into the 'feel' of the video is then not an easy feat to achieve. As LS describes:

"Yeah I did zero filming. This was the same for 'What'. Coops would just drop off captured footage and I would keep him updated with how things were coming along. Coops was still learning editing at the time and being that I had done 'What' the same way it was only natural to also take care of 'Clocked In'."

Daniel Johnson, large hop, hard to shoot photo. Give a F about grass

Super grimy setup, always enhances the shot/clip. Mick Bayzand of sending himself fame, with that huge ass pegs

On this point, you then have to work through an extra layer of sensitivity in terms of deciding upon a soundtrack. Normally, it's a dynamic between filmer/editor and the rider, however in this case, it would have been between filmer, editor and rider. Although this didn't seem to be much of an issue for these guys.

From my point of view, Focalpoint (particularly early days FP) has always been associated with hip hop, leaning into the urban setting of Melbourne and their love for east coast USA influenced street. This is central to the atmosphere created by 'Clocked In', with the video being heavily concentrated around hip hop. In fact, you need to get more than a third of the way through before you come across a different genre. Here is LS giving a view into the music selection:  

"The music harps back to what I would of been listening to at the time and also taking inspiration from the Shook videos as well as Animal 'Can I Eat' and 'All Day'. Being that the video was a mixtape edit, I was trying to blend tracks together and then go into some guitar based joints and back out again. I was really just trying to capture FP as a crew through the music, a lot of the footage they filmed together in sessions not on solo missions. So the mixtape was a perfect way to try and get this across."

The Big L track in this video bangs. 

Will Jackson the european blow-in, floating down this 10 stair wallride

I'm led to believe this is DJ, however it reminds me of Marnold steeze, either way, nice and steep bench nose

Anyway, the last item I was keen to touch on was the dudes influences. An extension of the 'What's Good?' series on the Journal, this was a rare chance to get into the mind of someone with plenty of experience and having grown up during an era most of our readership would not have known. LS explains:

"The first video which played a big role was Props 'Best of BMX 1996'. This was the first video that we copped from a bike shop before we really knew that videos were a thing. The first local releases were from Volatile Visions out of SA, 'Pleasure Farmers' and 'Lust' played a big role in wanting to edit and make our own local videos. Still to this day, I hold 'Lust' in my top 5.

We quickly got hooked and figured out we could order bulk videos from Dans Comp in the USA. Fox 'Expendable Youth 1' and 2, Blueprint, Little Devil 'Seek and Destroy', 'Nowhere Fast', Props 'Road Fools 1' and 4, Base Brooklyn 'Neighbourhood Superheroes', Animal 'Self Titled', 'Don't Quit Your Day Job', Props 'Issue 39' - Ralph Sinisi interview, Props 'Issue 37' New Jersey scene report,  FBM 'Albert St' and 'All Time Low'.

We had the first copy in Aus of Little Devil 'Criminal Mischief' which was used at the premiere at 'Metro' night club in the city. I still remember taking this to Strictly BMX in Camberwell and everyone crammed in watching it for the first time on the shop TV. "


The To the BMX video faithful out there, this is some red hot shit - LS' collection


Holy hell, a Primo 'Hemorrhoid' seat in sight, amidst an incredible setting for mid-school BMX, a wider shot of the LS collection, including the sacred Little Devil films

That's it, there you have it, a more in-depth and contextualised take on the Focalpoint classic 'Clocked In'. Shouts to LS for coming through on this one, it's been a pleasure.