Talking Dan's Comp with Stew Johnson
For as far back as most BMXers can remember, Dan's Comp BMX mailorder has existed on the pages of major BMX magazines and in the mailboxes of many eager BMXers awaiting the latest catalog from the mailorder giant located in Indiana. And for as many years as the brand has been around, they have employed a large and varied BMX team, which has included everyone from legendary street riders to flatland riders to a full BMX racing team.
In August of 2010, Dan's Comp employed the help of veteran Michigan BMX rider Scott Towne as marketing/media coordinator for the brand. Part of that job included team manager, and Towne got to work sponsoring some of the best BMX riders in the U.S., including Dakota Roche, Nathan Williams, Corey Martinez, Van Homan and Alex Magellan, along with younger upstarts such as Stevie Churchill and Devon Smillie. (That's just a fraction of the team -- currently Dan's sponsors 24 pro team riders.) Towne also started petitioning for a full-length Dan's Comp DVD. And that is where veteran BMX filmer Stew Johnson enters the picture.
Less than two years ago, Johnson started work on the video, traveling around the U.S. and filming whatever Dan's Comp riders were interested in filming. Miraculously, he managed to capture almost the entire team, and edit the final project in time for the November 23 worldwide premiere in Chicago, Ill. Earlier this week, XGames.com spoke with Johnson about the filming process, and what it took to document one of, if not, the largest teams in BMX.
XGames.com: How long was the video in production for?
Johnson: The filming was 18 months, 10 days a month on the road filming for it. I think we actually added one trip on the end of it to wrap up some stuff with a few more team riders. Roughly 19 trips all together. And it was mostly in the U.S.: California, Texas, Chicago, some Midwest, Philadelphia, we just went all over. And we did one trip to Toronto, Canada, which was really fun.
What section will be the one everyone will be talking about after they see the video?
There are quite a few parts that I'm happy with. Stevie Churchill has the last section, which is obviously because he's an amazing bike rider. I think people will know what to expect from him. Devon Smillie probably has one of my favorite parts in the video, Trey Jones is another favorite. And there are a couple split parts that are really good: Nathan Williams and Dakota Roche have a split part which I'm really into. I guess it depends whose riding you're into though. There are a million guys on the team, and it's bound to have something for everyone according to the different styles of riding.
Are there any Dan's Comp riders not featured in the video?
There's actually no Edwin De La Rosa clips, or Nigel Sylvester. Actually, Edwin has a clip in the credits but it's not riding. And Ryan Metro too, because he has been out with a back injury for the duration of the filming.
What was the impetus behind Dan's Comp doing a team video?
I guess they've been talking about it for a long time. Scott Towne took over as team manager a few years back, and he pushed the higher ups at Dan's to green light the project. He contacted me, and asked me if I was interested in making the video, and it came together. Some of the team, I already knew, and some of the younger guys, I got to work with for the first time. It's always good to meet the younger riders, figure out their approach to riding and learn how to work with them. It was a fun project to make, a little hectic at times cause the team is so large, but overall it's been a pretty good experience.
How did filming for the Dan's Comp DVD differ from your days with Props video magazine, or even the etnies video you filmed six or seven years ago?
At the end of the day, if you're riding bikes, and filming riding and everyone is having fun, it's all pretty similar. Obviously, with Props, it wasn't a huge company, so we had to pull things off on a shoestring budget. We didn't do anything outrageous for this video, but it was nice to know that we didn't have to really be too careful on expenses. We always had places to stay instead of scrounging couches to sleep on. But at the end of the day, it's still just filming guys killing it on their bikes, and if we're having fun, it's a good project.
How long do you think it will take for this video to end up on the Internet after the release?
I guess it's not uncommon for a video to end up on the Internet a few days after the release, which is completely probable in this situation. There's not a whole lot I can do to stop them. I just hope people have respect for the amount of effort we put into this project and let it be on its own for a bit, but you never know.
Will the Dan's Comp video be available digitally?
No, just DVD.
Do you think it should be?
Obviously, with something like the Anthem video, it's whatever I want it to be. But if I'm making a video for somebody, like Dan's Comp, it's totally up to them what they want to do with it. I'm happy either way. I enjoy having a physical copy of the videos I made, and I know a lot of other people do to. Most people prefer a digital download, but that's not my call.
Dan's Comp "Roll Call" is available for preorder on the Dan's Comp website.