The Balance – Professional Rider / Filmers

With videos being such a huge part of BMX, the whole rider turn filmer is a seamless evolution. It's not uncommon for someone who starts to take filming more seriously to see their riding suffer a bit—it's just a simple give and take. However, there are some riders who manage to excel both in front and behind the camera. There are even a few professional riders—some with signature parts and all—who are helping film and/or making some of our favorite BMX videos. Here are a handful of riders who are known and recognized for their efforts on both ends of the video camera and how they find a balance between two things they love to do.

No thanks to that curb, Calvin Kosovich had to put in some serious work to pull this fastplant polejam-to-wallride-180 clean. Fortunately for Calvin, he had Darryl Tocco (a fellow pro rider who knows what it’s like trying to film a technical move) sweating it out with him. (Photo: Zielinski)

 

Charlie Crumlish 

Charlie Crumlish has a signature frame with S&M, his own technical hybrid street/trials style, he's made countless videos for BMXFU, and he most recently filmed and edited S&M's latest video, Hot Dogs Who Can't Read.

His wacky editing or clever peg work, it’s hard to know which trait Charlie Crumlish is best known for, but we love ’em both. (Photo: Tristan “Gutstains” Afre)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
I’m lucky enough to have people on all the squads I’m involved with who can handle the camera, too, so we all kinda share the duty. For me though, riding and filming have always been one thing pretty much. I started messing with cameras pretty early on, so it was always intertwined. In all honesty I identify more as a rider first, editor second, and the filming is just a necessary step in sitting down and chopping the video up. I started editing before I really started filming, now that I’m thinking about it… I have to admit I enjoy my time on the bike and in the editing suite way, way more than the time I spend behind a camera [laughs]. If we’re out riding and I see something I want to get for my own section I usually just knock it out of the way before I start filming everyone else so I’m not getting frustrated filming and letting that energy bring the rider down.

How often, if ever, do you get to on trip strictly as a rider?
On most Merritt trips Mike [Brennan] hires a filmer so I can concentrate on riding more. Still though, I always end up picking up a camera and shooting a second angle when one of the other team dudes is riding.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day? And how do you deal with it?
Well as I said before, my preferred workaround is to do my clip first and get it out of the way. Sometimes the deck of spot cards get shuffled and dealt differently and I end up at something toward the end of the day though. I’m a lot better at dealing with this as I get older, though. I used to let my mental fatigue get the best of me (I still do sometimes) but nowadays I’m so busy with everything, by the time I get on the bike and at a spot I know I can get a clip on, I’m more excited than anything.

“The time off the bike working on the videos and filming makes me appreciate when it’s my turn to get something for my section.”

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
I never really go ride without my camera bag unless I’m just headed to the skatepark for a quick session.

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
For sure. It’s a good feeling knowing you could get a clip if you see something. That goes back to the appreciation of the time I get to spend on the bike and loving the feeling of getting something under my belt, whether it’s for my section or who ever I’m riding/shooting with.

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
On a really fundamental level I think there’s a huge benefit to watching athletics over and over, perfecting your form, etc. Coaches in the NBA, NHL, NFL, etc. review tapes with their players, gymnasts go over routines in super slow motion, dancers use mirrors all to perfect their form. I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t picked up a camera and started pointing it at my biker buds and vice versa.

Zach Krejmas

Ride's very own Zach Krejmas is equally bad-ass behind a camera, rolling fisheye, and on his pegless freecoaster Volume/Animal/ GSport progressive street chariot.

Get a good wallride setup in front of Zach Krejmas and he’ll go from filmer to rider in a heartbeat. (Photo: Zielinski)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
Typically, the majority of trips I take part in are Ride based projects where I’m the designated filmer.

How often, if ever, do you get to on trip strictly as a rider?
It’s been one trip a year lately, no complaints there though!

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day? And how do you deal with it?
If I’ve been filming all day, I usually don’t get in front of the camera… But when it does happen it’s almost always one of those organic moments where the session dwindles down and something just sort of comes together in the moment (usually for the gram). I definitely struggle when it comes to balancing both riding and filming in a single day. It feels like if I don’t devote 100% of my focus to one or the other, something could suffer. As a result I usually try to designate a day each week for myself to ride and film in front of the lens, as opposed the rest of the week when I’m focused on being behind it.

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer? How do you think that unique situation transcends over to when you're working with other riders?
I feel that working at Ride has given me an extremely unique perspective on the world of professional level riding. Riding and filming with so many different style riders, you see how different riders approach every aspect of BMX, from creative spot selection, to ninja-like technical precision. I get to see what is possible and how it’s achieved and it is truly remarkable.

"I usually try to designate a day each week for myself to ride and film in front of the lens, as opposed the rest of the week when I’m focused on being behind it."

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
If I’m heading out with the intent to ride, I hardly ever bring my gear.

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
I often ponder this question… I’ve come to realize that while I would like to think I’d be a better rider, in reality if that were the case I might actually be less involved in BMX (or at least the industry) than I am today. Videography and the desire to attend film school is what brought me to Long Beach, and LB led to meeting so many new people, and becoming absorbed into a booming BMX scene. Which in-turn sparked my initiation as a sponsored rider. Without being a BMX filmer first, my life would be totally different.

Grant Castelluzzo

When he's not making contact with his pegs eight different ways on one ledge, you can find Grant Castelluzzo filming for his sponsor Profile, or Ride, or WeThePeople, and numerous other brands.

Getting a nice pop out of a smith grind brings great joy to Grant—he was feeling extra exuberant after this one. (Photo: Zielinski)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
This is completely dependent on whether or not I ride for the team. I will often film Madera trips and since I don't ride for them I am 100% a filmer first. If someone has hired me to film their brand I am focused completely on them. If I have a good relationship with the riders and brands and I find a set up that's too good to pass up I might ask if I can try to get down on it after they all get their stuff, but that is rare. If I am on the trip as a rider and I happen to be filming I try my best to split it 50/50. I can usually tell when a rider is feeling something and I really make sure to get what they want to do right away. I also make sure that I ask people what they want to do so I can make sure to get everything done. It is usually pretty easy because most people I end up on trips with want to ride slightly different spots than I do.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day? And how do you deal with it?
This can be a little frustrating from time to time. The mindset it takes to film and to ride are drastically different. After I spend hours on the board it can be difficult to have the mentality to try something challenging. If I roll up to a spot and want to try a technical line I have to be in the right mind set and it's challenging after I have been filming for a while to get into. I usually just get to a spot I want to ride and see what feels good. If a line or trick is feeling good I will be able to beat the feeling of being mentally checked out and get the trick done.

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer? How do you think that unique situation transcends over to when you're working with other riders?
I feel like an advantage I have being a filmer/rider is spot knowledge. I am at double the spots that a normal rider is at so when it comes time to do a trick I have seen a lot of set ups that I can go back to and try to get something. It also works the other way… I end up being at a lot of spots that may be perfect for someone else to film a trick on and I will catalogue it and take the rider that I can imagine wanting to ride that particular setup. The best part about being both a rider/filmer is that I get to travel twice as often. Some trips are more riding based and others are strictly filming based, but they are all fun and I have some incredible experiences.

"Filming with different people showed me how different people handle the pressure and it has helped shape my behavior as a professional rider."

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
Every single time. There are days when I just want to cruise and not have the bag on me, but it's just not worth it. The day I don't bring the gear is the day that a rider might be feeling something and I will have to tell them I can't capture it. That is the worst-case scenario. I might bring less stuff on a day when we are just cruising around but I always have enough gear to ensure I can capture anything that might go down. I miss boosting out of curb cuts, but I would feel bad if I had to tell someone I couldn't get what they wanted because I was lazy.

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
Honestly I can't even begin to think of filming as "clocking-in" if I did I would always be let down by the amount of money I would be receiving for doing it. It truly is a labor of love. I am always prepared to film people because I love filming. I love the act of actually using a camera as well as being able to document a friend do something they are hyped on. I filmed long before I ever made a dime doing so and I will continue long after I am getting paid. If anything, filming gets me more motivated to ride. It pushes the people around you to do things they are stoked on and their happiness gets me really hyped to find something to do that I can have filmed. I have probably been carrying my camera everyday for almost ten years now, so I can't really even imagine not bringing it.

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
If I never got into filming I might not even be a sponsored rider. Filming has introduced me to more people and helped me go more places I would have never gone before. It really helped expose me to BMX even more and is part of the reason I enjoy riding as much as I do. Filming with different people showed me how different people handle the pressure and it has helped shape my behavior as a professional rider. Being behind the scenes really showed me how it was supposed to be done and then I tried to adjust my actions accordingly. It gave me a unique perspective. Being from the Midwest, there weren't a ton of pro riders, but working with the few there were really kind of gave me a manual on how to be a pro. I might have spent more time riding without filming, but that could have lead to me being burnt out more easily. With something to split my time it makes me appreciate each side even more. I realize how lucky I am to be doing either one when I am doing the other if that makes sense.

Check out Grant's absurd technical grind skills in latest Profile video…

Darryl Tocco

Darryl Tocco has been holding it down as a pro rider and filmer longer than anyone else in the game. The Kink and Eclat pro has numerous video accolades to his name, including the abundant amount of video content to come out of Kink in the last few years, he and Colt Fake got a silver medal in X Games Real BMX 2016 (and they won fan favorite, too), and he shot and cut Ride's Range Of Motion and he had a sick section in Ride's Insight. Yeah, we like Tocco.

A classic Tocco combo on an unorthodox obstacle. The final result couldn’t be any sweeter. (Photo: Zielinski)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
Depends on the team and trip I think. I’m going on seven or eight years as staff video guy at Kink, so when we go on a big trip I’m definitely prioritizing my work behind the camera. Sometimes we’ll have Ride or other media cover our trip and we’ll bring along their filmer, which can be really fun for me, I just get to ride and chill. These days on trips I prefer to focus on filming and do the best job I can, when I’m home in Austin I’m more focused on riding and working on projects where I’m trying to get tricks myself.

How often, if ever, do you get to on trip strictly as a rider?
It’s pretty rare these days [laughs]. Even if I’m just there to ride I’m almost always going to end up helping out whoever is filming the trip.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day? And how do you deal with it?
It can be tough. I guess I just pick my battles. Sometimes I look at a setup on a trip that I know is going to take me at least an hour to pull and if I’ve been carrying a bag around for half the day that process isn’t going to be any easier. I’m looking for stuff that is a little less technical lately, I guess—something that isn’t going to hold everyone up forever. As I’ve gotten a little older I worry about holding the crew up, I want to be at their disposal.

“Filming has completely enriched my BMX career, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’ve been lucky enough to combine two things I love and do them both with people and places I’ll never forget.”

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer? How do you think that unique situation transcends over to when you're working with other riders?
The main advantage is that I’m on all the trips [laughs]. I don’t usually have to worry like “Oh shit, this Europe trip is coming up I hope I’m on it!” That’s been the most fortunate perk to being the filmer for Kink. I think when I’m behind the lens maybe it’s a little easier to relate to what’s going on with the rider, not necessarily how to do the trick or anything, but what’s going on mentally. I know I want to be encouraged at times when I’m riding and other times I don’t want to hear a word; I think it helps when I’m filming these guys. I can kinda gauge how much I should or shouldn’t be saying, how much space I should give them, stuff like that.

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
Depends on the session and who’s working on what. I’d say if I’m going to ride street in Austin the camera bag will at the very least make it into the car. Of course I prefer to leave it when I can, but if we’re riding there’s always something to film for. My friends here always have projects they're working on and I’m always down to help.

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
Yeah, for sure. If I have the bag on, there’s a skateboard strapped to my handlebars. It feels like a mission. Like, you’re not just going on a casual cruise. I don’t shy away from that by any means, but there is a different feel to those days. When I’m home though, on those days it motivates me to ride, like “alright, let’s get something today.”

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
I certainly wouldn’t be an X-Games medalist [laughs]. But I don’t know, it’s hard to say. It’s easy to claim "I’d be twice the rider I am without this camera" but I don’t know. I think over the years it’s affected my confidence more than anything, not so much that I’d be stomping hop whips without the filming career. Riding around with that bag all day doesn’t allow you to really loosen up or get warmed up to your bike. You can’t hit those morning curb cuts, ya know? Sometimes riding to the spot is the best way to get yourself ready for the day and if you’re covered in gear you’re missing that window. At the end of the day though, filming has completely enriched my BMX career, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’ve been lucky enough to combine two things I love and do them both with people and places I’ll never forget. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Mike Mastroni

Mike Mastroni has been making fisheye magic for Volume and Demolition videos for the last few years. But it's when he's on two wheels that Mike's creativity really shines through. Mike's imagination and spot use is on the same wavelength as the likes of Tate Roskelley and Erik Elstran. Mike's time in front of the camera has become increasingly rare as of late, but hopefully we'll see some fresh Mastroni footage in the near future.

A rail-to-chain grind? Welcome to Mastroni’s world. (Photo: Zielinski)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
Filmer first, always. The two are very separate passions for me. Riding is and always has been kind of something I do on my own time. I usually develop my ideas and so-forth when I’m not around a bunch of people.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day?
I don’t [laughs]. On the rare occasion that I see something while we’re on a trip that I have to get done, I’ll usually sit on it for a couple days and go back on the last day of the trip or something and try to handle it like first thing of the day so I can stay focused on my guys afterwards.

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer? How do you think that unique situation transcends over to when you're working with other riders?
First and foremost it’s like, I’m out basically every single day. And through that I see ridiculous amounts of new spots or even just areas to explore that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon, so that’s definitely the biggest advantage there. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve definitely given up a few things that I probably would have liked to do myself, for the sake of someone I’m filming with that day getting a clip. I think everyone in my position pro or not can kind of relate to that one. It’s a balance, but I’ll definitely never give up the things I really want…

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
If I’m going riding without the bag I’ll usually be by myself either cruising or looking for spots. I’ll then return at a later date with a filmer to make it happen

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
Yeah, for sure. When I’m going out as a filmer as opposed to a rider I feel like most of the weight is on my shoulders to make sure things get done that day. I’m very obsessive with both aspects of what I do, so I feel that each thing deserves 100% of my attention, respectively, in order for me to feel that I’m doing a good job.

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
I’d probably be having a lot more fun on my bike all the time and have a bunch more video parts or sponsors, but lets be real… I’d probably also have to hold down a regular human job too—which is like my worst nightmare [laughs]. I actually have an interesting situation because I initially started working in BMX because I made a bunch of self-filmed web videos, then through that I kind of organically transitioned to filming most of the time. The bottom line really is that I love BMX, so I’d much rather be around it all the time versus some miserable dead-end job where most of my time is spent not having a creative outlet.

Calvin Kosovich

Calvin Kosovich got the official bump to Pro from Kink earlier this year. Since then he's been keeping plenty busy after moving to LA and filming with the likes of Ty Morrow, Dakota Roche, Augie Simoncini and more, while also plugging away at footage for a video for Kink.

Calvin lent a heavy hand on both sides of the camera for the Vans Illustrated video. Not only did he have a full section with bangers like this over-tooth, but he also filmed much of Dakota Roche’s and Ty Morrow’s sections—and he edited Ty’s part, as well.

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
On Vans trips I'm inbetween riding and filming. There's usually multiple filmers, so it takes the pressure off being on the camera the whole time. I usually wait until everyone has finished getting their moves and then attack the spot. That process has worked well so I'm going to stick to it for now. With Kink trips Darryl [Tocco] is in charge and he handles a majority of the filming, there's always a second angle or a button push to be done and I'm easily involved.

How often, if ever, do you get to on trip strictly as a rider?
I've had a camera ever since I've had a bike so even if I'm not filming I still bring my camera out, old habits die hard I guess. But it really is nice having someone in charge of setting up and filming, it gives you time to focus on the trick and the spot.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day?
It's actually kinda hard—especially when everyone's been warming up and ripping the spot. Sometimes you rush into it thinking you're a part of the session and you're just not ready. This mentality sometimes ends in bad times, I always tell myself to stretch, warm up and think twice before commencing these days.

"Being able to relate to the whole mental battle and the tricks helps you pick out the small details that a lot of filmers may not have experienced or just forgotten about over time."

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer?
It's nice to have an understanding and a fresh knowledge of what the rider is going through, being able to relate to the whole mental battle and the tricks helps you pick out the small details that a lot of filmers may not have experienced or just forgotten about over time. Justification of the spot is key, you almost need to stand and look at the setup like you're the one doing it. This helps create the elements necessary for the final piece of cinematography.

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
Everyday.

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
Not really, if I tell myself I'm going to a spot the night before it always brings anxiety, but if we are out and find a spot, it's on. The camera is our tool for sharing our passion around the world. It's a part of the kit and comes with me everywhere. I'd probably have more anxiety leaving it at home [laughs].

Give Calvin’s welcome to Kink pro section a watch (or another watch)…

Christian Rigal

Christian Rigal is a busy guy, juggling numerous video projects with some of the biggest pros in BMX. He also rides (and films) for Markit, United, Demolition, and etnies. He shot and edited the Markit video, Mark It Zero, which won the NORA Cup Number One Video award in 2014, and his incredible section from United's Still United was nominated for NORA Cup Number One Video Part in 2016.

This is probably the greatest photo of a simple tuck you’re ever gonna see. (Photo: Fudger)

 

What's your typical situation when you’re on a team trip? Are you a filmer or rider first?
Aside from United trips, I'm usually doing both. Ever since I started traveling, I was always the one with the camera filming and riding the whole time, so to me that feels most natural. As just a rider, I'd say I've been on about 10-12 trips over the past eight years [laughs]. United has always had a filmer on staff, which means I can focus on riding and leave my bag at home. It's awesome having time to search for spots and jib around while the other dudes are filming, I think I ride my best on those trips.

What's it like having to suddenly get in front of the camera after being behind it all day? And how do you deal with it?
I'm honestly really used to it by now, I just try and get down to the spot while the crew's getting going and see if there's anything I want to do. If I find something big I'll try and get it out of the way first, but if it's something that might take a while I'd rather get my clip after everyone else. I don’t mind lighting up the spot or coming back early in the morning if that's what it takes—sometimes that actually works better for me.

What do you think are some advantages to you being both a pro level rider and filmer? How do you think that unique situation transcends over to when you're working with other riders?
When it comes to riding I've always felt more comfortable filming with someone who's out there trying to get clips too, that way there's no pressure, we're both just doing our thing. It's nice being able to ride and film with someone who is down to session all the spots, too, they’re able to give me ideas and suggestions that I trust and I don't feel as bad when I’m not able to pull something.

Filming wise, I feel that…

“I connect and work well with people because I've been there, I know what it's like to try and film a trick for four hours and not pull it, I know what it's like getting kicked out of a spot five times, and I've dealt with all the frustrations and emotions involved in filming a video part.”

Having a good relationship between the rider and the filmer is key. Another thing that has really helped me out along the way is having so many spots, being a rider who loves to spot searching has translated into an endless album of spots that I'm able to share with my friends—which makes filming much more fun and productive for everyone!

When you're at home and going out to ride how often do you bring your gear with you?
I would say that 9/10 I'll have all of my gear with me, the only time I leave it behind is when I go for a solo session, or if I’m out spot searching. The day you leave something behind is the day you’re going to need it, so I'd rather be safe then sorry.

Does your mindset change when you walk out the door with the camera bag—as opposed to when you leave it at home—sort of like you're "clocking-in"? And does that affect your motivation to ride at all?
Having my bag or not won't change my mindset, but if I’m trying to clock in and get a clip I'll definitely make it a point to get a good nights sleep, eat a nice meal and stretch before I get to the spot. As long as one of the homies is down to film me, then nothing feels out of the ordinary, if anything, I tend to get more nervous when a filmer comes to town and I really have to think about what spots I want to hit, but the pressure can be good sometimes.

Even with all the time and effort you put into filming, you're still a sponsored rider, where do think you’d be today if you never got into filming and put all of your energy into riding?
Maybe I'd do more tricks? [laughs]. Honestly, I don't know? My love for riding has never changed, whether I'm out filming or not. I think things balanced out pretty well for me, though, I'm a very setup oriented rider and my body can only handle so much abuse, I would probably just be broke off 24/7 if all I did was ride all the time [laughs]. But who knows, maybe my riding style would be totally different? Either way, I will always feel very fortunate for how things worked out for me, I get to spend my days with my friends doing the two things I love most, it doesn’t get much better then that!