Tracking, shot

Colby Elrick

Photo By anne stokes

Colby Elrick and Colin Arlen’s track-bike documentary Macaframa premiered in Sacramento at the Crest Theatre in early 2009 to a packed house. It has been shown around the world and is a benchmark for both film production and skills on a bicycle. Their teaser videos appear online and immediately became Web sensations, from New York to Tokyo. The riders in the film conquer the steepest San Francisco hills and do some of the most creative trick riding today. Now, Elrick has produced a Sacramento-based film, titled Macramento, that will be shown at this year’s Bicycle Film Festival.

What kind of riding do you prefer? It seems like people are more divided now between trick riding and speed riding.

There are two different things now. There are the people who ride track bikes to go fast, and then there are kids who essentially do BMX stuff and set up trick bikes to jump. I like both, but when I started there were only track bikes and not trick bikes, so I’m partial to that. I like how it’s separate now, and there’s a definite distinction between someone riding a fast bike and someone riding a slow bike that they can do tricks on and jump crazy stuff.

Do you like filming both styles?

Oh yeah, but the fast style is a lot easier to film. You’re just filming one thing: someone hauling ass.

How long have you been filming, and how did you get started?

I starting filming skateboarding when I was 16, but hurt my knee really badly when I was 18 and couldn’t skate as well. I bought a Sony VX2000, the camera everyone uses to film skate videos, and started filming and submitting my footage to 411VM and Thrasher and other video magazines.

When did you start filming track bikes?

Probably about four or five years ago now. The first week Colin and I got track bikes, we went out and started filming. It was kind of like skating, and we figured out how to do some tricks just for fun.

How do you film someone riding so fast?

We film out of a car, hanging out of the window and getting as low to the ground as possible. Or using a skateboard. A company called GoPro just sent us these cameras that are about the size of a cigarette pack. They’re full HD, fisheye, waterproof, and they mount anywhere you want: on your bike, chest mount or head mount. That’s what I used to film the whole Macramento thing for the Bicycle Film Fest. It’s a little tougher because you can’t see what you’re filming. There’s no viewfinder, it’s just the lens. You just have to know what you’re doing, I guess.

Do you like filming around Sacramento?

It was really tough to do this little video, because there’s not really a lot to work with out here. In the city, you have everything. You have all those crazy hills and pretty surroundings that are aesthetically pleasing. Out here, it’s a little harder to find that. Half of it is in downtown/Midtown, where it’s busy, and then the other half is out in the dirt and in the trails and in the woods. I really like that stuff.

Have you had any work featured in the festival in the past?

We’ve done it four times. Last year was the first time we hadn’t done it in the last five years or so. This year, Colin didn’t feel up to making one, so I decided just to do it by myself. It might just be shown at the Sacramento film fest; I don’t know if I’ll let it go around the world. It’s just Sacramento stuff, so hopefully it’s entertaining.

How did you get involved with the festival initially?

After we put our first trailer on YouTube, they contacted us and wanted to show it.

Do you have any other projects coming up?

Yeah, this summer we’ve got some guys from the East Coast coming out to film. I can’t tell too much about it, it’s kind of top-secret. Hopefully we’ll have it for sale in the fall. Our other video took three-and-a-half years to make, but now we’re better and it’s easier for us to pump stuff out. These guys are just going to come out for a week, and we can essentially make the whole video with five or six dudes. It’s going to be a two-disc DVD; it’ll be real different. That’s the next project.