ABOUT CHEEKY MONKEY BMX
The below is from an interview given to rideon-bmx.com
1. When did you first get interested in making BMX videos?
It must have been around 1991 which is when I got back into BMX. A few of the Manchester guys came to the local mini I skated and blew us all away with their disasters, manuals and blunts. They lent me a few of the current vids, such as Headfirst and Ride Like a Man and I was amazed at how far BMX had come since the mid 80s. I remember wanting to get a camera just to record all the rad stuff I was seeing and make some fun edits. I had no plan to make a full length vid until I realised I’d got a bunch of rad footage from various comps/jams/general riding sessions.
2. Who influenced your video making style?
The first H-Street skate video came out in around 88, which used regular home video cameras, this wasa a big change from the highly polished Powell/Santa Cruz videos. It was more about the groundbreaking skating than the way it was filmed/edited, so this showed that anyone could make a video. I would say both the early H-street and New Deal vides influenced me initially, both with the way they were made, along with the music, and then later, all the early UK BMX vids.
3. What was the general standard of BMX videos like when you first started making films?
The first vid I bought was the Jive video by Wil Smyth: ‘A Smile on my face is splittin me in half’ (which had a Jerry Galley section that blew me away), then there was the Grant Smith’s BSD video – ‘Stress Kings’, followed by Jive’s second release ‘Bald Iron’. From what I can remember, they were all edited using the standard tape to tape way, using a camera/vcr to play and another to record onto a master. These vids were all similar to how the H-street/New Deal vids were made in a DIY sense..
There were also the US vids such as Headfirst, which was rad, along with more polished editing. A truly groundbreaking vid with that Eddie Roman humour added, plus like I said before Ride Like A Man amongst others.
4. Did you think BMX videos lagged behind skate videos at all?
The skate videos always seemed to lead the way by progressing with technology quicker than the BMX ones. They were also the first to use wide angle lenses, filming low etc. When that first H-street came out, it was truly groundbraking, skating was booming, whereas bmx was in the doldrums. Maybe if BMX had had a second wind at the same time of the early days of affordable camcorders (like skating did), there may have been more vids still similar to the skating ones but without being influenced as much.
5. How did you get started?
I picked up a cine camera in around 1990 from a car boot sale, just to film us skating our ramp. I remember having to wait weeks for this 3 minute roll of film to arrive after getting processed, but this did instil the desire to get a camcorder, even more so once I started riding and visiting other places. I saved up by working saturdays cleaning in an industrial bakery, along with money from birthdays and christmas. It took ages to get the money together as was spending most of it on travel etc.
6. What kit did you use?
The first camera I got was a Canon which I think was a regular 8mm, along with a VHS player that I got from another car boot sale haha. I then used a regular tv, along with my sisters, plus my hi-fi and folks VHS for dubbing music, and a very basic soundmixer.
7. What was your first BMX video project?
I did a few short fun edits where I learned how to put clips over music etc. and then over the course of a year or so, had enough footage to make a full vid which was Tense Nervous Headache.
8. How was it received?
I remember people liking it but I’m sure it was more the riding than anything. I was fortunate to be riding with some great people and got to travel to most of the contests/Jams across the country at that time. It had a couple of good reviews in Ride and Dig which I was stoked on.
9. You’ve made some classic videos over the years. Which one is your favourite and why?
Tense Nervous Headache would be my favourite as it was all new to me; travelling to new places to ride, filming and then putting the vid together. I would also say Barry on a Grifter as this was a slightly different format, using older footage which other people had filmed, so was interesting to see what had been happening before I started back riding.
10. Did you get any feedback from riders overseas who’d seen your videos?
I had a couple of decent reviews from the guys at Fat BMX and Chase mags but I didn’t really think of selling anywhere outside the UK. I do remember a German guy telling me one year at King of Concrete he liked the first vid after buying it from me the previous year – which was nice.
11. How did you choose the music for the rider section in your films?
I was constantly listening to music so something would just pop up for a specific section. I’d probably have a few songs in mind and would just go with it without thinking too much. I don’t remember every changing a song choice when making a vid, but in hindsight there are a couple of sections I’d have preferred to use something else.
12. In your option what’s the best BMX video ever made?
Personally, I’d say the Mark Richard’s vids: Angus and Behold the Wonders that never Cease, along with Bald Iron by Wil Smyth and Grants early BSD vids. These had sections of riders/comps/jams that I had attended, so were like a video diary. I also remember loving the Homeless video, Rogers Garage and the of course all the S&M vids.
Ride On also for the impact it had at a time when BMX was at it’s lowest… really well made, and remember it making me stoked to get out and ride on.
13. Is it easier to get videos seen now due to social media?
Anyone can make a little edit and have people watching it within minutes which is pretty mental when you compare it to back in the 90s, when you had to get tapes duplicated, then post them out to people who may have seen a review in a magazine. I think it’s great, as the reason I make vids, is to share riding that people may otherwise not see.
14. Has social media killed the section based long form (ie over 4 minutes!) BMX video?
I don’t think so, there are actually still plenty of videos being made with the standard section by section – you just have to look for them. An old mate has just made a new video (Strangeways Vol.4) which is rad and it’s great to sid down for 30 minutes or so and just let the video play. There’s room for both but I guess people probably don’t watch the same edits again and again – there’s so much choice now which I can’t see being a bad thing.
15. What do you film on these days?
I use my phone and a cheapo action cam, plus a gimbal now and again. These work fine for me and don’t feel the need to get anything else. If I was starting out and getting into filming, I’d probably be looking into getting a proper camera etc.
16. What do you edit on these days?
I keep my edits very basic and don’t need anything other Premiere Elements, Davince Express plus a few external hard drives. I’ve a spare PC for capturing old footage and then just edit on my regular comp.
17. Do you think making video today is easier than it previously was?
It’s alot easier to move clips around these days, whereas before once you’d put a specific clip down onto the master, it was tricky to change it, plus a proper ballache having to forward/rewind through tapes in order to get the next clip added.
It wasn’t even easy getting the sound of riding to play over music and remember needing 2 vcr’s, 2 screens and a sound mixer, to do what you think would be a simple task.
These days, there really is unlimited possibilities with editing, and have seen loads of great edits but having said that, it all comes down to the footage needing to be decent.
18. What advice would you give to someone starting out making videos?
Just mess around with the video editing programme you may probably already have on your computer or download one for your phone, then just have fun using you the camera on your phone, watch loads of other peoples vids, play around with filming, music, effects, titles etc. That way you can only get better and find your own way of doing things. Also don’t ever feel like you’re filming too much, these days you can always delete anything you don’t wish to use.
19. Have you got any future projects in the works?
I have a couple of ideas but the main issue is finding the time. For now, I’m going through old footage and sharing some of it through facebook/instagram etc. I also have a few tapes from other guys who I’d like to thank: Mike O’Connell, Wil Evans, Sean Malone, Lincoln Blacksley and Paul ‘Harry’ Harrison, I’m also making the odd edit now and again for various comps/jams etc such as the Ride On Jams.
Also thanks to you Neil for creating such a great community with Ride On.