Local brothers’ ‘free running’ film debuts
BY STEVEN LIBOWITZ
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY SOUND
When most people encounter a picnic table, tree branch, barricade or other obstacle in their path, they naturally step around, duck under or otherwise avoid whatever stands in their way. But parkour athletes see the objects as a challenge — something to leap, bounce off of, roll over or swing around – all in the name of sport.
Now, two local filmmakers are taking viewers behind the scene to see how the parkour athletes – as well as practitioners of two other peripheral extreme sports called “breaking” (which involves head spinning and other dance-like moves) and “tricking” (a cross between martial arts and flips) – train, prac- tice and perform the feats. “Stunt Sports,” which premieres 2 p.m. Saturday at the Metro 4 as part of the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, represents the feature documentary debut of Samuel and Ian McKaig, brothers in their mid-20s who are fifth generation Santa Barbara natives. The two produced, wrote, edited, shot and did all the special effects for the film together, with Ian mostly handling the camera and computer work and Samuel writing and co-directing.
“It’s all about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, overcoming as many obstacles as you can with just your body.”
– Samuel McKaig, filmmaker
“I train with all these guys from the other sports on regular basis,” he explained in an interview outside the film festival headquarters earlier this week. “They’re all my friends. I just sort of said, ‘Let’s pull all our stuff together and show the world what we’re doing.’”
Film seemed an appropriate medium since so many of their athletes appear in the movies anyway, performing dangerous and astonishing stunts for such movies as “Tron,” “Green Hornet”
and “Twilight” – the so-called “faceless acrobats of show biz.” “Skating, BMX and roller blading have the X Games,” Samuel said. “But this is the first thing – movie or otherwise – to bring all these sports together. And we use only our bodies – no tools, no equipment, nothing. But no one put it together before. We all train and do similar movements and end up on same movie sets or commercials. We end up using a lot of each other’s moves.”
take you behind the scenes so can see how they train and how they do what they do, as well as the struggles they go through to be as good as they are.”
But unlike a lot of documentaries, the emphasis is on the action, not the explanation. “We wanted to make it more like a (real) movie,” Ian explained. “So we don’t have a lot of talking head interviews or narration. The camera is moving as much as possible and there are lots of special effects.”
The brothers self-funded the film – which was shot in Santa Barbara and on location around the world – through Samuel’s earning performing for competitions and commercials. “I didn’t even have to exchange one dollar of my own when I arrived overseas,” Ian said with pride.
“He was chasing after the guys jumping off roof tops with a full on steady cam rig,” Samuel said of Ian.
Why anyone would want to endure such physical tribulations is a natural question.
While breaking and tricking are surely athletic, parkour, which also goes by the name “free running,” is perhaps the most amazing to watch.
“That’s what the film is about,” Samuel said. “Everyone has their different reasons. It has a lot to do with overcoming your fears, dealing with the injuries….The fear is always there, but you just deal with it. And try to use the adrenaline to do the moves even better.”
“The guys are jumping and flipping off of rooftops two stories high,” Samuel said. “It’s all about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, overcoming as many obstacles as you can with just your body.”
For Samuel, the benefits go beyond the sport itself.
Ian said making the movie was thrilling to see even from behind the lens. “It’s exciting to watch people jump off build- ings. And the acrobatics that you see every day in movies, we
“It helps you overcome everything,” he said. “You train yourself how to succeed by determination and working hard. You learn that everything is possible. If you can do a flip off a two story building and land on your feet, you can do anything.”