Crankworx Dirt Diaries lets riders tell their own stories 

Six top athletes pull film crews together for short film competition

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEFF BOYCE - Leap into Action Dirt Diaries filmmakers at work during the 2013 competition at Crankworx.
  • Photo BY Jeff Boyce
  • Leap into Action Dirt Diaries filmmakers at work during the 2013 competition at Crankworx.

Calling all riding fans and riders! Crankworx is bringing out the talent on screen as well as on the mountain.

The six athletes who are participating in this year's GoPro Dirt Diaries will have more control than ever in telling their riding stories. They are in charge of their own films for the first time.

"We wanted to find a way to engage the best filmmakers and the best athletes at the same time," says event organizer Sarah Leishman.

"We wanted to get those athletes who don't necessarily compete now; they don't race, necessarily. Their job as athletes is to influence or put together photography projects. With Dirt Diaries we give them a chance to really drive their own projects."

The competition will see six mountain bike athletes, with wide experiences in the sport, make a five-minute film for presentation at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Aug. 12. The event is in its third year.

Each team gets seven weeks to complete their films; often this is hardly enough time because of their schedules.

"Every time, without fail, there will be a few teams scrambling because it takes time to put together a video diary and they are so busy. On the flipside, we have Deep Summer (Photo Challenge) the following day (Aug. 13) and the Deep Summer slideshows are put together the first weekend of Crankworx. If we took these athletes out of the loop it would mean they wouldn't show up to be in the photographers' slideshow because they would be too busy with the Dirt Diaries... now they can do both events," Leishman says.

The athletes often team up with film crews they already know.

This year's six competitors are world-class riders Wade Simmons, Ross Measures, Kirt Voreis, Andrew Taylor, Yannick Granieri and Claire Buchar.

"They all have their own unique issues. Yannick is a slopestyle athlete from France and he will need to get his footage of the Whistler bike park (which is mandatory) within 48 hours of arriving in Whistler. Others have families... others have work or still race. It's pretty cool to watch them all go through it," Leishman says. "These athletes are super well rounded."

She adds the judges are filmmakers who will be looking for high quality and strong storytelling. Prizes for the winners will be announced at a later date, but added teams had been provided with a budget with which to shoot.

As a former World Cup downhill athlete and UCI World Championship medallist, Whistler-based Buchar is the only woman taking part this year. She now works as a coach, an athlete in media and film projects, and a graphic designer. She still races regionally and runs the Kovarik Racing program with her husband, Chris.   

In an interview, Buchar says this is the first time she's taken part in the Dirt Diaries.

"It's like I'm the director of my own story and I've never done that before. It's super interesting. I'm a photographer, not an actor. I've been in a lot of films but as someone else's project," she says.

"I have a good crew, and a vision and project, and we're together on that. Since I'm a girl, I'm trying to get a flavour of the girls' races. I don't want it to turn into another regular guys' night. It's pretty special that one girl gets chosen. They're never going to see from my perspective... I want to show the culture behind the sport."

Apart from that, Buchar kept a tight lid on what her film would be about.

"But it's a story that I think a lot of people can relate to. It's part of being female and being an athlete, riding with guys, and there's going to be a bit of that perspective in there."

Meanwhile, Measures, a former professional dirt jump and downhill race athlete, was out training and sent in his responses by email. He has been working on his film with comedian and filmmaker Matt Dennison of I F*cking Hate That (IFHT).

"It is going well so far, we're almost half done. We're going to attempt to finish it between (July 28 and 30). Crunch time," wrote Measures, who now works with SRAM as an athlete, writer and filmmaker. "So far its been a lot of fun, the shooting we've done in the park has been under wet conditions, so we're looking forward to the sun this week for something different, and in particular it is needed for a few key shots, so that is important."

Like Buchar, he is leery about giving away too much about his film project.

"It will definitely be fun to watch, perhaps a little different, but relatable to most of the people who ride in the park," he added. "We're definitely hoping to achieve the win, but finishing and producing the video that we have in mind is most important. We want to make sure that we cover everything that we set out to from the start, so far that is going smoothly."

The GoPro Dirt Diaries start in Olympic Plaza at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Whistler Blackcomb guest relations.

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