The Recollective 

Looking back and ahead with mountain bike filmmaker Jamie Houssian


By Shelley Arnusch

With its lyric flow and gorgeous 16 mm cinematography, mountain bike film The Collective has won acclaim and fans all over the world since its release last summer.

More than mere eye candy, more than the incessant and ultimately unsatisfying huckflicks known to aficionados of the genre as “bike porn,” The Collective made use of an impressive budget and seasoned crew to tap into the soulful aspect of freeriding, the majority of which was filmed in B.C., including segments in Whistler.

On the eve of the film’s outdoor screening at Lost Lake Park as part of this year’s Crankworx festival, Pique’s Shelley Arnusch caught up with Jamie Houssian, the film’s producer and a founding member of the production house that now flies under the name The Collective in Vancouver for a ‘recollective’ session on his influential work.


PIQUE: The Collective has a definite surf-inspired look and feel to it. Considering many in the action sports industry consider the surf industry to be the leader, and that you studied film in California, was this an influence?

Jamie Houssian: “We tried to get inspiration from a lot of the action sports movies out there. Definitely the surf films that have a more mellow vibe to them, that dive into the characters and the places and the environment. The environment was a big part of what we wanted to do. Some of the more soulful surf films pay homage to the environment that they’re in — the beauty of the ocean and the waves. Likewise, when we’d go on our shoots, we’d get into some pretty amazing locations and we wanted to make that one of the characters in the movie as well.”


PIQUE: What other sports influenced the film?

JH: “A couple skateboard films out there that have some really cool cinematography. Skateboard and snowboard films — those would be the two main sports.”


PIQUE: The Collective seems to be your stand against the mainstream construct of ‘X-treme’ sports. Was that something you were trying to put forward?

JH: “I’d say that stems from the fact that we were trying to represent mountain biking for what we see the sport as. Everybody involved in making the film, (co-producer/director) Darcy (Wittenburg) and I, as well as (senior photographer/creative advisor) Sterling Lorence and a big part of our crew, we’ve all been mountain biking for our whole lives pretty much. We see some of the stuff out there in the action sports film world as not really reflecting the reality of the core feeling you get when you go out for a ride with your buddies. For us, getting away from what you might call the industry norm wasn’t a conscious decision to do it differently, it was a conscious decision to reflect what the sport meant to us.”

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