THE MAKING OF “FREEDOMBIKER”
THE MAKING OF “FREEDOMBIKER”
Photography by Matt Collins
Product-branded short films (or long commercials) are all the rage now. It was just a matter of time before e-bikes became part of the subject matter.
Bobby Root, American distributor and brand ambassador for German e-bike brand M1-Sporttechnik, approached the company with an idea for this video. As Bobby puts it, “The e-bike is the new horse for the new millennium!” The company then tapped Max Skrein, producer and director for Skrein Films, to produce and direct the project. Skrein has produced many films for the likes of companies like Red Bull.
The concept was to start off with a daydreaming, suited office jockey (played by Root) riding an M1 Spitzing Evolution through a camp of horse rustlers in the old west, upsetting their operation and getting them to
M1 didn’t want to go halfway with this; they wanted to create something epic, and epic isn’t cheap. The budget for the three-minute video jumped to a heart-stopping $120K, with demands for a crew of 15 people and an epic location. Skrein himself scouted and selected an area of Utah’s Monument Valley for the Wild West look and hired some authentic cowboys to play a supporting role to a professional actor chosen as the main cowboy. He had to train to ride well for the shoot.
As part of preproduction, Bobby had to get fitted for three different suits—ultimately Max chose a blue suit as the one for the shoot. The shots were storyboarded just like a Hollywood feature to ensure they could get just the right shots with the right light at the right time of day, which meant a lot of shots at sunrise/sunset during golden hour to give each shot the right look” of the old west, like a proper western film.
“The e-bike is the new horse for the new millennium!”
There were a lot of intricate setups, including mounting cameras on a four-wheeled UTV to chase Bobby and the mounted riders. There’s a scene where he busts through a fence, and that fence is actually made of balsa wood. The rest of that fencing is made of locally sourced, aged wood.
There are also some truly big jumps and drops that truly tested the bike. Those are not visual effects. Max was quite pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of both Bobby and of the bike, saying both exceeded his expectations. As a guy who shoots a lot of action sport films with great athletes, that speaks volumes.
Bobby and photographer Matt Collins camped out at the location, while most of the crew commuted an hour each way from the nearest town. Collins is also a ramp builder, so he built the ramps that Bobby used for jumping into the corral, launching across the chasm and even for the landing in Los Angeles. The jump into the corral was tricky, as he had to go over a fence between two poles that were only a couple of feet apart. Collins also helped keep Bobby safe by putting down carpeting on flat landing spots that were in deep sand to keep Bobby from being pitched over the bars when he landed.
ALL GEARED UP
The filming was done with Red Epic cameras, Leitz Summilux-C prime lenses, and a few aerial shots with a DJI Inspire drone with a Hasselblad camera underneath. They spent three days shooting the desert scenes and another day in downtown Los Angeles, which required shutting down the busy tunnel underneath Grand Avenue for a couple of shots.
The crew used the Inspire drone to shoot the background plate for the incredibly long-distance jump near the end, then used a green screen to put Bobby into that shot without endangering his life. It’s so well done that even on close examination, it’s completely believable.
The Spitzing Evo is fitted with a 920-watt TQ motor, with a neck-snapping 120 N/m of torque, and can be configured to not have an upper limit of speed. We’ve ridden the Spitzing with this configuration, and it’s thrilling to say the least. It’s definitely capable of giving a horse a run for its money. The newest edition of the Evolution will be a Bobby Root signature edition.
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