On Thursday filmmaker Jason Bergh will premiere "REvival 41: The Testimony of Supercross Champion Trey Canard and His Ascent Back to the Top," two days before the Anaheim, Calif., kickoff of the 2013 AMA Pro Supercross season at Angel Stadium. Bergh's documentary follows Canard's journey back to racing after fracturing three vertebrae in a brutal crash at the 2012 Los Angeles Supercross less than one year ago. Last month, Canard shocked the motocross world with his announcement that he'll be back in action in time for Saturday's race.
Bergh is best known as executive producer of "Bra Boys" -- the 2007 documentary about Maroubra surf gang rivalries near Sydney, Australia -- and as director of the 2011 film "Aleksam" about longtime X Games host Sal Masekela reconnecting with his father, South African music legend Hugh Masekela, through music. Bergh says he's drawn to the stories in and around action sports as much as to the sports themselves. And he got more than he bargained for when he set out to tell Canard's story. ESPN.com caught up with Bergh to get the full scoop [check back Wednesday for our interview with Canard and Thursday for our Supercross season preview].
ESPN.com: Anyone who saw the crash last year has got to be surprised to see Trey Canard back in action so soon. What first attracted you to Trey's story?
Bergh: I was first introduced to Trey by Shane McCassy, who ended up co-writing and co-producing the film. Shane and his family have been a major part of the moto world for a very long time, and when he tells you he's got one hell of a story, you listen. We all went and had lunch together down in Anaheim to talk about some ideas, and the second I sat down with Trey I just knew there was so much more to this kid than meets the eye. He has so much compassion, and so much passion, and he's so dedicated to everything he does. I have a lot of respect for people like him, people who go all in in everything they do.
We did a small interview -- this was right after his big crash -- and he just opened his book to me, page for page, talking about all these things I had no idea he was going to talk about: his childhood, his father and his father's death, his religion, all of his previous crashes. I vibed out with him from the beginning, and when you vibe out with a subject, as a director, it immediately pulls you in.
To come back from an injury and a crash like that takes a special kind of … something.
Right. Most people in that situation would have taken years to get back on the bike, if they ever did. I remember the first doctor's office visit I went to with him at the medical center at USC, the doctor was like, "You can't step on your bike for a year." And he meant stepping on the bike, period, not getting on the track and letting it go, much less racing. I was like, "Oh, wow, this is going to be a long production process for this documentary!"
But at the same time I could see this strange look in his eye. He was listening to the doctor, but inside he was processing it like, "I'm going to show you guys." And here we are, less than a year later, and he's going to be at the starting gate at Anaheim 1, ready to rock.
This is what I learned about Trey: he's an animal. He's a beast. He's as dedicated to what he does as anyone I've ever met. But he's also an incredible human being, one of the nicest, most hardworking people I've ever come across in my entire life. He's as real as it gets and just being around him, you want him to win. I feel honored to be able to tell his story.
What were some of the key decisions you made, as a filmmaker, about how to tell it?
I think you need to know who an athlete is and where he's from to really care about him, so that's what I set out to do: to tell the story of where Trey's from, who he is as an individual. This project was fun because we knew the beginning and some of the backstory, but the rest unfolded in real time so the story kept changing.
One big decision, early on, was that we wanted to tell the story of the relationship between Trey and his father. We went to the motorcycle shop that Trey grew up in, that his dad owned, and it was really emotional going there and learning about this accident where a tractor flipped over and killed his pops. Trey was the one who found him. I was an emotional wreck through hearing this whole story: Trey handled it better than I did. He'd been dealing with it for a long time and had already found his strength, which was inspiring in its own right.
What do you hope people take away from this film and learn about Trey that they might not necessarily have picked up just from following his racing career?
He's a big believer in his faith, in his god, and in the people around him. He's got a lot of great, important people around him, and that makes it easier for him to be a big believer in himself. For me the takeaway is that whatever you set your mind to do, you can do. It's a film about belief: belief in yourself, your family, your faith. Belief that you can overcome any obstacle that's put in front of your life. I guess what I really want is for people to to walk away from this film and really understand what it is to work as hard as you can work and to dedicate your life to doing what you most want to do.