Behind the Lens: Glenn Milligan Interview

Videos play a major role in the progression in BMX, and they show the world exactly what incredible riding looks like in action.To give you an idea of what a BMX video-maker has to endure to get his vision on the screen, we got Glenn Milligan to kick down some behind-the-scenes secrets.

You’ve made a lot of BMX videos over the years. Is it hard to make them different from each other?
When you’re the person filming most of the video and editing it, it’s really hard to make them different from each other. I think I’m actually lucky sometimes because having to get the rights for music to use pushes me into music choices that I wouldn’t normally come to myself. I’ve also been lucky lately because of the high-quality footage people have been contributing; that also keeps the look of each video different.

The intro to Digital Interface has some incredible technical things happening. Where did you get the ideas?
I’m not sure; each one is a little different. The Paul Osicka one is obviously from the Predator... Predator 2 recently was released on DVD, and when I was watching it I was like, “Whoa--I can do that…” Besides that, I’ve been watching a bunch of film shorts and music videos and just seeing so many more creative things.

I told Glenn I needed a photo of him for this story, and this showed up on my desk. Don’t ask me...  credit: G. Reda

How many man-hours did it take to make this video and intro? How much more time did it take than other videos you’ve made?
It ended up not being so bad. I didn’t film as much as I normally do on our videos so that allowed me to make more time for editing. Normally the intro would be edited in a week, but that section was being worked on for a three-month span. Not straight, though--on and off. I did have some help. Miacol Chavez and my wife clipped some paths for me during the process.

With computer technology advancing so quickly, is it making your job easier, or is it harder because now you have so many options?
There was a time when you had to render the whole video, which basically meant you couldn’t see the entire video until the computer processed the whole file. If you messed up, you might not know until after a 17-hour render. Now since playback and some effects are real-time, it’s definitely quicker. There are tons of options, but so many people, including me, don’t really use them. That was one of the ideas behind doing Digital Interface the way it was. Technology is advancing, but so many videos look exactly the way they did six years ago.

Glenn and I were never in the office at the same time, so I snapped a few photos while he was gone. These are the machines Glenn loves to hate every time he makes a video.  credit: Mark Losey

List all of your videos and tell us which one is your favorite.
New York Hardcore
The Shady BunchOff the Hook
(Steve Crandall’s favorite video)Neighborhood Superheroes
Domination
Exit 63
Standard Country
EuroTour 99
Basics
Rhythm
TransWorld How-to
TransWorld How-to Race
Industry
Turbulence
Parts
No Bikes Allowed
Demolition
Momentum
Reincarnation
Digital Interface
Network

I also helped out on the Animal
video, Don’t Quit Your Day Job,
and Shutdown.
I have no favorite.

en you make a video, do you try to think of what people want to see, or do you just put together what seems best to you?
I think I worry way too much about what people are going to think; I can’t help it. I feel like, if you make a video for people then you should make them your focus. If I want to watch something the way I want it, then I should just edit my own version. But I tried to do Digital Interfacethe way I would like it and it seemed like people really liked it. Maybe I need to take a little more control over my own projects.

How do you choose which riders are in your videos? Do you have a favorite section in Digital Interface?
Picking riders is easy, because there are so many to choose from. I try to mix it up and get guys from all over and different types of riders, just so the videos give the viewer something they wouldn’t normally see, or see together. It’s hard to pick a favorite section, because I really like something in each one. For instance, the two roadtrips, one I filmed and one was sent to me. I love the Aspire one because it’s all new to me. I didn’t see any drama, there was no being tired and pissed at four in the morning looking for a place to sleep. I don’t really know all those guys so I have no opinions. I just saw awesome footage and got to edit a section with it.

On the flip-side, I went on the Vans trip, had a great time, and those dudes threw down. There was drama like on any roadtrip, but overall it was great to be there, and that gave me the inspiration to put that section together.

A collection of the Ride and TransWorld videos Glenn’s made over the years.  credit: Mark Losey

If you go by the riders’ sections, I like Colin Mackay because it shows him more like an everyday rider and not like the contest rider he’s been promoted as; you get to see how good he really is. I love the rawness of Butcher’s part--the music and his style goes together. Butcher is a real-deal, raw-dog street guy and I think it comes across in that section. Porter is unreal. Some of that footage was a little dated, but that kid is so good.

Then there’s Jason Enns. I don’t think I can say anything about Jason that hasn’t been said already. He always has some new shit, and everything he does looks so good.

With making so many videos, do you ever get burnt out?
Yes. A few months ago I got married, and shortly after I went on The Butterfinger Movie tour to promote a video that had already been out for four months. The tour was also not supposed to go down during the weeks I was supposed to edit Digital Interface, but of course it did. When I got off the tour I had to start editing Digital Interface. Then, once I finished two straight weeks of staying up till four, five, six, and seven a.m. every night, sleeping five hours and then going again, I decided to drive to New York to film my section for Network. Plus I had spent so little time with my wife I figured it would be a good way to spend time together. Well, it rained the first two weeks I was in New York, and I pulled my back moving a 200-pound treadmill for my mom. Once I drove home, I had to start ASAP on the Network intro and credits and the Nora Cup video presentation; the Nora stuff is a video in itself. One night while editing my wife came to visit me at work, and her brand-new used car blew up and needed a new engine. After a night of tow trucks I went right back to editing. I finished everything with just enough time to go out a day early to Interbike and the NORA Cup awards. I was psyched, finally done, with a day to spare. However, during all this, the TransWorld Motocross magazine guys had been producing a video. They had this really talented filmer who couldn’t actually finish the project, so they asked for some BMX help. I spent the past few weeks on a nonstop mission to update everything in my computer, figure out who was who in motocross, clear some music rights, and finish that video. This past week included two-24 hour stretches, at least a case of Redbull, meeting all the insane people who live near the Ride office at four a.m. at the AM/PM, and basically losing my mind. Right now I’m pretty burnt. I just laid in bed for two days. The scariest part is that I know I’d do it again.

Everywhere you look in Glenn’s office you’ll find tons of tapes. How he keeps track of all the footage is beyond me.  credit: Mark Losey

Are there other videos out there or video makers that you personally admire right now?
Hell yeah, I admire most of the guys that make videos--almost everyone. Making these things is not as easy as it seems. I think I probably nit-pick other people’s stuff, as I know happens to mine, but overall I respect a lot of guys. We just did the Network video, which was a section from different video/film makers. Straight up, I was honored--all those guys did it and did it well. I hope we can do more of those videos. That way instead of seeing one vision you’re getting many. That’s the only thing I hate about BMX. I feel like no one realizes how much diversity we really have. There are so many different aspects to what we do, and obviously not everything is for everyone, but people should at least know what’s out there.the TransWorld Motocross magazine guys had been producing a video. They had this really talented filmer who couldn’t actually finish the project, so they asked for some BMX help. I spent the past few weeks on a nonstop mission to update everything in my computer, figure out who was who in motocross, clear some music rights, and finish that video. This past week included two-24 hour stretches, at least a case of Redbull, meeting all the insane people who live near the Ride office at four a.m. at the AM/PM, and basically losing my mind. Right now I’m pretty burnt. I just laid in bed for two days. The scariest part is that I know I’d do it again.

Everywhere you look in Glenn’s office you’ll find tons of tapes. How he keeps track of all the footage is beyond me.  credit: Mark Losey

Are there other videos out there or video makers that you personally admire right now?
Hell yeah, I admire most of the guys that make videos--almost everyone. Making these things is not as easy as it seems. I think I probably nit-pick other people’s stuff, as I know happens to mine, but overall I respect a lot of guys. We just did the Network video, which was a section from different video/film makers. Straight up, I was honored--all those guys did it and did it well. I hope we can do more of those videos. That way instead of seeing one vision you’re getting many. That’s the only thing I hate about BMX. I feel like no one realizes how much diversity we really have. There are so many different aspects to what we do, and obviously not everything is for everyone, but people should at least know what’s out there.