The making of the end of Thats Whats Up
Our latest DVD That’s What’s Up has been getting some amazing feedback. And for good reason, the level of riding from all involved is really putting Australia on the world stage outside of the transition and event riders the world already knows so well.
Of course, the end section of a DVD is always occupied by the rider who put the most into their section. And like Highlander, ‘there can be only one’. Mike Vockenson took the ending section and for good reason, his vision for what’s possible on two wheels (usually at warp speed) is incredible. And on first watch, when the song winds down and the epic rail to rail gets done, you’d be suitably impressed and be rejoicing in the reality that BMX is f’n awesome as was the whole DVD. However, after a brief black pause, one more clip happens, and it’s this clip that has blown away so many. Pure balls out speed and commitment, launching from a shitty bank into the void and onto a tiny rooftop before launching onwards to the ground below. Simply nuts when you think about it. I know I’ve checked it out so many times and still can’t get it through my head how you even size something like this up mentally, let alone commit to the big pedals necessary to hit it. So, what better to do than hit up the man, the myth and the now legend, Mike Vockenson to get some insight into this ender that will be remembered for a very long time.
So, the end clip in Thats Whats Up, when did you first work out you wanted to hit that spot?
Well the spot is actually in Perth, can’t remember the name of the suburb, Calvin was showing us around on one of two trips we took to Perth and mentioned that there was some gap that we were closeby to. We stopped and had a look, but I think it was raining or something as we left and decided to come back the next day. There was a whole crew of us there, from memory, half were keen for me to try it, the others weren’t.
As soon as I saw it, I was keen. It seemed to add up to me, perfect down hill run up, run out was sweet. The only thing in the way was being able to calculate the perfect amount of speed as the roof wasn’t too wide, maybe a few bike lengths. I really didn’t do any kind of strategic thinking, other than to ‘feel’ it out in my head. For me, if I can visualise it working, then I am going to try it. I think I heard Kachinsky talk about that method in an interview and it definitely works for me too.
The most terrifying part of doing this gap was that Troy was freaking out and being weird, telling me not to do it. I guess he was scared that I was going to get hurt. Having all my friends there, really helped me get this done too. Especially Jay and Jamie, I always feel stoked to do shit when I am riding with them, I guess I just get excited. Also, we were on a filming trip for the 2020 DVD, so there wasn’t going to be a more perfect time to try something.
I guess it just worked from there, fluked the hell out of it.
Simply hitting the gap onto the roof would have been sufficient as an ender yeah?
I don’t know man! The drop wasn’t really factoring in to the equation, so I guess so, it was all about just making it haha. Ending clips are weird, it’s kinda like art in a way, it’s so subjective. What the filmer thinks might be an ‘ender’ worthy clip might be totally different to the rider. I guess that applies in this situation, there was a number of other clips in my section that I was probably more scared to try, but ended up being mid section clips.
Do you have any cold hard facts for us, numbers, distance, speed, size of cojones?
Nothing official haha, we all forgot our speedos and tape measures that day. Approximates? I guess it would have been about 30 feet to the roof and I was probably going about 40km/h, but I have no idea, that could be way off!
It’s big in every sense of the word. How do you get yourself into the zone to pedal at such a beast?
I kind of already touched on this, but being on a filming trip for a DVD is the perfect time for me. I get in the right headspace to try shit that I might not normally do. This trip particularly seeing as we were staying with Calvin, who is a beast, and riding with all these other crazy Perth dudes. The weather was perfect, we had the double angle, two photographers. The vibes were flowing you could say!
There’s a little known fact about this gap to roof and off that most miss in the DVD. You blew your rear tyre out on the roof and it’s going down as you launch off to the grass (kids, turn up your volume and listen). What was going through your head?
Yeah, I guess I only just made it, which is pretty lucky. If I had landed any further back, the wheel would have blown up for sure and I would have rag dolled scorpion death for sure. Again, this was just the right fluke eh.
I heard a rumour that someone called you shoulda thrown the bars off the roof? Dudes ain’t content are they!
Don’t know who said that. Probably Mitch Morison, he is my biggest critic. That’s the reason why he comes on these trips, to keep everyone in their place.
It’s proper stunt man shit regardless, did you channel Colt Seavers from the Fall Guy?
I have never heard of, nor seen this. After a quick Google search, it would appear that Lee Majors is a badass and I wish I had seen this ages ago.
To up the anté, is your next section going to see you on fire dropping dead man into stuff?
Who knows! I went all out on this section under the assumption that I might not have another chance to film a full part for a DVD. But if ever a chance arose, I would definitely be down.
Fire is so badass, that would make for an insane clip. I’ll have to talk to Evan Jaques, he is the pioneer of flame dropping in BMX.
Are you trying to prove a point that you don’t need to flip or go backwards to grab an ending section in a DVD?
Definitely not trying to prove a point. I think it’s just a little niche that I can see, especially nowadays with flat rail and foot high ledge tech bullshit being the focus for most dudes, around fashion. All the memorable DVD sections I watched when growing up were all from dudes going fast and doing gnarly shit, not jibbing, so naturally, I model my spot choice and riding off of that. Plus I can’t do all that slow, tech stuff anyway.
I guess my roots in racing kind of nudge me in that direction anyway.
Funny you mention the backwards thing, I didn’t even realise that until Rhys Yeomans mentioned it in his review of the DVD. Thanks for the kind words too Rhys!
On enders, is this tradition of the last section of a DVD like the cover of a mag, once revered as the highest accolade in BMX, fading under the tide of web clips?
I don’t think so. If anything, it has become more highly regarded. The web edit thing is just ‘easy’ and would take something quite special to have any effect or stand out in peoples minds, having much less integrity or accolade surrounding it. So having a quality section in a DVD quite notably stands out for me, especially if you can tell that the dude has been filming for ages and putting in some serious work. Unlike the Dans Comp DVD, which was a bland collection of web edits.
That DVD you mentioned also name-jacked an awesome Australian DVD mag called Roll Call, if song jacking is a crime then they are f’n the worst type of criminal in history, corporate f-wits who know nothing or care nothing for BMX. Anyway, rant over, if you got nominated for NORA Cup, and say you won it, how would the speech go?
I would be very surprised if I even got nominated, there are so many good parts out these days. That seems like such a distant and ‘out of this world’ kind of ‘dream’ I guess haha. It’s just something that I grew up reading about in Ride BMX mags and seeing party clips from over the last few years, not something that is relevant to me.
Anything I’ve missed?
Thanks for all these Q’s man, I’m so stoked on the response to my section and the DVD as a whole. Having kids message me on Facebook saying they are stoked is what makes it all worth it. When people like my boss and my parents ask me why I do this crazy shit and put my body on the line, it’s hard to think of an answer. Other than to yell at the premiere, its those moments that make it all worthwhile, just a simple props from a friend or a kid you don’t know. All for the glory!
If you haven’t seen That’s What’s Up, it’s available in our webstore here.