Behind The Scenes of Matt Macduff's Title Video
TR: For how long did you have those tricks on your mind?
Matt: Yes, I mean, some of the tricks certainly go back a long way. Like, that fakie flip, I remember trying that 6 or 7 years ago, trying to land that move. And then obviously, not having the resources back then to try it properly, because you need a custom setup, and then just getting injured, like, crashing the loop just really set me back you know what I mean a couple years (laughs).
TR: So you were already thinking of the fakie flip before the loop incident?
Matt: Yea, yea for sure. and it was just something I needed the right setup to do it on and, when I crashed the loop and ruined my body, it just took so long to get back.
TR: When you finally had the right setup for the fakie flip, was it a lot of trial and error before landing it?
Matt: Yes, it's crazy. So I came up with the idea 6 or 7 years ago in the Highland Mountain Bike Park Foam pit, and then I tried it 2 years ago in Brett Rheeder's backyard while I was tearing down a structure, and while I was trying it, I figured out a couple things. It just wasn't working because the impact was so harsh.
TR: You had to work with the angles and the speed?
Matt: Yes, and I just journaled about that stuff. Like, I had notes from 6-7 years ago and I had notes from 2 years ago, and I just felt really strong on the bike so I figured that now was probably the best time to give it a go because I've never been this strong before. It's crazy when you get in your 30s, or like late 20s, you get that man strength, and I just never had that man strength before and I figured like, damn, maybe I'll be able to hang on to this now, because I feel like Hercules (laughs)!
TR: How did you end up having the right resources to go ahead with this project?
Matt: So Brett injured his knee, and things were slow in the yard, so I asked him, you know, if he would mind if I did a video project in the backyard and used some of the old ramps and stuff that he had laying around that we weren't using and it wasn't gonna cost him any money and it would be great for his brand Title because Title needed content. He was really stoked and thought it's a great idea!
TR: How long did it take to build the whole course?
Matt: Hum, I was building it on and off, because I was revamping the backyard as well and that's a big process. So while I was doing that and also doing some building for Tom Van Steenbergen for his project Wild West, in the middle of all this I started really slowly working on my builds. I would say it took me about 2 months of part-time building. Luckily I had some buddies, Brian and Dane, that helped me with the carpentry. Basically, there was a whale tail there, where my structure is now, so I took down the whale tail and rebuilt it into my structure.
TR: So you recycled ramps?
Matt: Yes! Everything in that video is like free and recycled. I actually drove to Tom's house and picked up old ramps and brought them to the backyard to take apart so I could build mine with the wood.
TR: There's definitely a couple World Firsts in that video. Which one are you the proudest of?
Matt: Oh wow.. I mean.. Which one am I the proudest.. I'm most proud of the open loop 720, just because like, I'm not that good at 720s and it's such a gnarly move, and I knew it could be done for years and I kept telling people to do it but everyone was like "Nah man..", and then for me to step up and be able to land it was just insane. It was just an insane feeling. Like, when I was practicing the move it wasn't really working out, luckily I had Brett there to help me.
TR: Was he standing on the side with his crutches giving you tips like "turn your head more" and mentoring you?
Matt: Yeah! He legit is like my 720 coach, and sometimes he would get upset and leave because I was blowing it, and other times he'd be stoked, and it's so funny because I wasn't expecting to do that trick, it was really just something I had out there and I wanted to try it but wasn't sure because it was really dangerous, and then I just had this clear vision of me landing it.
TR: So you tried this trick straight to dirt?
Matt: No, no, I practiced on an airbag and then took it to dirt. But it was different, the bag setup didn't really resemble what it was so it was different. And the dirt was really hard! Like, everything that's build out of dirt in there, I didn't use a shovel. I built it all with the excavator with the steel wrist. When you're building jumps with the steel wrist, it compacts them and makes things really really hard, so it was just like this super hard landing that wasn't quite steep enough, so I was really scared to hurt myself, but I kept seeing this vision of me riding away and it was so vivid. The first day that I tried, I crashed probably about 5 times and then decided you know what, I'm delusional, this vision is not true. Then I came back the next day and I could just see it so strongly, and I felt a little differently that day so I gave it another try and almost landed it. Then about 2 or 3 tries later, I rolled away.
Matt uses an excavator equipped with a Steelwrist Tilt Rotator which allows the bucket to rotate in all directions. Despite being rather hard to manoeuver at first, it now saves Matt a lot of building time.
TR: Were they big crashes or was it just that you couldn't ride away from it?
Matt: They weren't big crashes, they were like as controlled as they could be, but there's just a lot of force involved, like you're coming down from so high, twisting and turning, and you're landing on such a hard surface, it's like your body can only take so much of it (laughs).
TR: Was that the trick that took you the longest to land?
Matt: Hum.. no. I think the fakie flip took the longest, and that line in the video took about 5 hours. It was 5 hours of trying the line, but I think I only tried the fakie flip under 10 times.
TR: So you coudn't land the tailwhip, or the flair, or your angle was off to throw the fakie flip or something?
Matt: Yes exactly. The platform was quite tight, and to tailwhip onto it was quite gnarly plus I'm not that good at flairs so.. I really had to concentrate and get all my power together, and I almost gave up.. I knew the way I flair is always a bit sketchy, and I knew that would be the perfect speed for the fakie flip so that's why I decided to do that which is pretty funny (laughs). And I knew the big deal was the fakie flip, the other stuff was just build up to the main trick.
TR: How long was it to film the whole video?
Matt: I took 20 days to film the video and we shot 15 of the 20 days and they were broken up. Some days would be back to back, and then really big days I would take a day off.
TR: Were you lucky with the weather?
Matt: Yes, yes, weather was good. But not for the build. For the build it was terrible, it rained all the time and we built mostly in rain, but when it came to shooting the weather was really good.
TR: What keeps you pushing to develop new tricks that have never been done? I mean, as a professional athlete, you don't necessarily need to take that extra step of risk and danger that you seem to be taking all the time. What is it that pushes you to keep doing it?
Matt: Yes, it's kind of fucked up man. I look at everything that I build like a puzzle for grown ups. It's a puzzle designed to test my abilities, and sometimes I can't complete the puzzle, and it sucks, and sometimes I complete it, but either way it doesn't matter because I'm always learning things. It's that learning, and that desire to continue learning, mixed with the love of simply riding and bikes in general. I want as many people as possible to ride bikes so when I'm creating content, I want it to be thought-provoking and positive to influence people. My riding is a mix of all that and I keep doing it just because I love it so much, and I feel like if you're a paid athlete, you have a responsibility to the sport to continue to evolve it and if you're not evolving it, you shouldn't be a professional athlete. Like there's many ways to evolve the sport and every athlete has his little niche, but I just love to learn and love to ride bikes and when I'm riding and learning new tricks, I just come up with all these ideas, almost like lighting bolts, and I got books filled with them.
TR: Is there anything else about this project that you'd like to discuss?
Matt: Really that's about it, I mean it wasn't anything too crazy, it was just being in the backyard for fun and I had a chance to do those tricks, and my body was feeling really good so I just went for it you know? It didn't really matter if anyone was gonna watch it or not, it's sick that it got a lot of views and hopefully it allows me to continue to do this kind of stuff. Mostly, I'm just super thankful for Brett Rheeder, Brodie, Title MTB and everyone that helped me make this project happen, I just love it so much. If it wasn't for financial limitations, that's all I would do, the whole year.
TR: Are you hinting at similar projects to this one in the future?
Matt: Yes, there will be. There will certainly be projects just like this one. These are all old concepts and it's just the tip of the iceberg. It's exciting man, I got all the drawings ready for like 3 more videos.
If you enjoyed this, make sure to check out The Macduff Show; a podcast where Matt interviews various major players of extreme sports and Follow him on instagram to stay up to date with his latest projects.
Stay tuned for the Second Part where we will be discussing the filming process with Brodie Jones who was in charge of the cinematography for this project.