Watch: Mountain Bikers Glow and Soar on Epic Midnight Ride

The latest short film from Sweetgrass Productions is predictably epic and beautiful, though surprisingly features mountain biking instead of their true love, skiing. Check it out. Here filmmaker Mike Brown gives us a little inside scoop on how they made it happen.

Where is this shot? The beginning reminds me of your glorious summer skiing scene from Valhalla.

We split between a second growth forest preserve in Oregon and a location on the boarder of Arizona and Utah. Looking at the diverse environments you can experience in mountain biking we wanted to choose two that would give a dynamic contrast within the film. For the forest we were looking for the same look as found in the Valhalla summer ski segment – maximum green. Conversely in the desert the aim was zero vegetation.

Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions
Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions

How planned were the mountain bikers’ jumps and tricks?

It varied from on the spot sighting of natural terrain to spending four days with a five-man team digging jumps…

A pro skier, your buddy Carsten Oliver, once convincingly told me that skiing and mountain biking were actually quite similar from a body positioning standpoint and how you find your line, etc. Do you see the connection when filmming?

The similarity/difference all depends on the terrain. We were able to line the riders up on some incredible lines that reminded us of spines in Alaska or backcountry couloirs. It was inspiring to see our riders Matt Hunter, Matty Miles, and Graham Agassiz making off-trail turns just as you would in big mountain skiing, and the similarity was amazingly close, even down to the ‘pow’ spray. Those were definitely the shots that gelled the best for us.

Big Water, Utah, Philips/Sweetgrass mountain bike 2015.
Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions

Did you all have to become nocturnal to shoot this?

We fully adopted the way of the vampire and actually hung out with quite a few bats who came out to buffet on the insects our lights were attracting.

By now, you have shot a lot of intense stuff under the veil of darkness. Have you learned a few tricks to make it easier?

Laser pointers—we swear by them. Way better than asking someone to put a light by “that one tree over there, the one in the dark.” Also lots of Clif bars and remembering to duct tape black heavy duty garbage bags over your windows during the day time to allow pleasant dreams.

Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions
Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions
Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions
Big Water, Utah; Photograph by Sterling Lorence/Sweetgrass Productions