Rocking and rolling
Filmmaker gets his hands dirty in the world of motocross
Joe Kocsis has bounced around quite a bit in the last five years. The rugged yet boyish-looking 36-year-old had a three-year freelancing stint in L.A., where he was a set decorator for music videos (working with such big names as Jewel, Dido, DMX and Mariah Carey). Kocsis also spent a year at a desk job in the Bay Area ("which got old real fast") and lived in chilly Truckee briefly before moving to Chico two years ago.
“That’s why I moved to Chico,” said the filmmaker, who had visited friends here prior to moving. “I love 105 degrees. Plus, Chico has the perfect combination of small town and big town. I like that in the summer I can ride my bike everywhere.”
Kocsis is focusing on a different kind of bike with his new short film—775: No One and Everyone. The film features the most well-known freestyle motocross (FMX) riders of the 775 area code, which encompasses northern Nevada. Kocsis chose songs from a slew of his favorite local bands—The Hooliganz, Blood of Cain, Fallon and metal band Esoteric—and a couple from out of the area to provide the driving soundtrack for the 22-minute film. Esoteric—which has two songs, “Soul Patriot” and “Money for War,” on the soundtrack—will play at the DVD-release party tonight (Feb. 28) following the showing of the film.
Kocsis is a motorcyclist himself, though admittedly not of the caliber of the riders he filmed ("I can pull a couple of old-school tricks!"). He grew up in Saratoga, where his parents’ property provided him 40 acres to tear around on his 60 cc dirt bike.
He has a love for extreme sports filmmaking (Kocsis worked for Reno’s Mack Dawg Productions editing snowboarding films from 1996 to 2001) and is particularly drawn to FMX (freestyle motocross).
775 is a captivating, action-packed, extreme sports piece, filmed and assembled over the course of a year. Kocsis filmed at FMX competitions and practice sites all over Nevada and California, wherever the action was—"I just kinda got the call and drove.”
Riders are seen jumping their 250 cc dirt bikes high into the air off of ramps, performing insanely difficult moves like back flips and handstands that many people can’t even do on the ground without a heavy, rumbling motorbike between their legs.
One particularly interesting segment follows rider Kenny Bell as he learns to do a back flip on his bike, first into a huge pit full of torn-up pieces of foam rubber. Then he does his first successful back flip off a high ramp onto the dirt of the Nevada desert. Kocsis tempers it with a segment filmed locally at Chico Motorsports where riders are buzzing around on tiny, 50 cc bikes.
The filmmaker also includes scenes of riders playing football, bowling and just talking to the camera—what he terms “lifestyle” scenes.
“One thing that’s lacking in extreme videos,” said Kocsis, “is lifestyle. I like to hear them talk, you know. Some people haven’t seen these guys without their helmets on, let alone talking.”
The film is dotted with slo-mos, action rewind-replays, and a mid-jump freeze-frame with a camera flash to give the effect of a photograph being taken—no doubt the result of Kocsis’ time working for Mack Dawg, when he lived in Tahoe City and Truckee.
There is a lot of crossover participation between the “extreme” versions of the winter sports of snowboarding, snowmobiling and FMX. Because he is a motorcyclist himself, Kocsis met the guys he filmed for 775—champion riders and jumpers like Drake McElroy, Derek Burlew, Matt Buyten and Summer X-Games gold medalist Adam Jones—during his time in the Reno-Tahoe area.
Kocsis was introduced to the Esoteric guys and their music by some of their Tahoe-based friends who happen to be friends with some of the 775 riders. It was a case of instant mutual respect.
Esoteric guitarist and back-up vocalist Chris Andersen said that his band was very happy to contribute songs to the 775 soundtrack.
“We were really honored to have him put us on the soundtrack,” he said. “We all watched the movie, and we were stoked.”