200 - Behind the scenes - usa By Luis Elías Benavides
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The guys at BACO, the four mysterious letters that have influenced many generations of riders for over two decades, just released a blu-ray box set that contains all 10 Baco videos, the Push it to 11 documentary, and hours of bonus features. This is absolutely a must-have for every rider on the planet because it reflects what BMX is all about. I caught up with Chris Rye, one of the dudes behind it, to ask him a few questions about this project. Sit back and enjoy! What pushed you to start documenting pretty much everything you did? I think we were all just fascinated by video cameras, and more importantly, loved capturing our riding for ourselves and others to see. Mind you at the time in the early 90s when we got started with Baco, very few people had video cams at all, nothing like today where even a phone can film decent video parts. And even fewer people then had the ability to edit footage into actual videos. We were very naive on the whole video-making process ourselves at first, but just figured it out through trial and error because we were so determined and passionate about it. There were no computers at all to edit with. You had to edit by going deck to deck analog style, which was very tedious and time consuming. We had vid cams around us at all times and also filmed other stuff besides just riding. Just dorking around, goofy stuff we did as kids and later as young adults. As time went on, our antics got more and more crazy and ridiculous. A lot of people say we were the “jackasses» before Jackass haha. Chad and Hilson eventually made it onto the nationally televised «Jerry Springer Show» by pretending to be gay to pick up chics at clubs, which was pretty much as ridiculous as it gets in terms of antics. Who was involved in the BACO saga? The original founding members of Baco were Chad DeGroot, Mark Hilson, Mark Fluette and myself. Then around Baco 3, Dave Freimuth became part of the crew when we all moved in and lived together. As the years passed, others became sort of like friend-level crew members, dudes like Kuhrt Emmerich, Jeremy Verhulst, Jimmer Rienstra, Kurt Schmidt, Rick Moliterno, Brian Vowell, Leif Valin, Jason Enns, Mike Escamilla, Dave Osato, Ruben Alcantara, Joe Rich, Luc-e, Andrew Faris, Jay Miron, Tony Mortenson and newer gen dudes like Brian Kachinsky, Kevin Porter and Ben Hucke. I’m definitely missing people from the list, there are too many to name. Who were your early influences in terms of video making/editing? Mark Eaton and the Plywood Hoods probably more than anyone, just because of the fact they made videos, were primarily flatlanders like ourselves, and also liked to toy around with ramps and street like we did. Then of course there were guys like Ells Bells who made it ok to be weird and Eddie Roman who made us want to step our game in terms of video quality and always having the newest cams. Is there a story behind the making of those videos that really stands out? Nothing really more than all the videos, even up to the new “Push It to 11” documentary, were collaborative projects where we tried to involve different ideas and opinions of the core Baco members to some extent. We always tried to keep it true in that regard. We did shit ourselves and in our own way, with really minimal outside influences. Wisconsin-style shit. I was more less the primary editor on most of the videos, but it seems like there was always one or more of the guys either sitting next to me or communicating via other forms to help shape the way the videos were put together, contributing new awesome footage, opinions on what music to use or what have you. It was all of us together that made Baco what it was, no question about it. There is notably some sort of evolution from BACO Vision to BACO 10, but always keeping the “we do what the fuck we want” mentality. Do you think today’s videos lack all that craziness? In a way, yes. When we were putting out the Baco videos, and even the new documentary, there were very, very few times when we questioned “what will people thing about this?” And we certainly never changed our course because of it. We pretty much made the videos exactly how we wanted and did not back down in lieu of how it might be perceived or interpreted. We liked to mess with people and how they might view us, just keep people guessing really. Today a lot of people are really uptight about how they come across, which is sort of a bummer because at times people hold back from who they really are. As much as I love the internet, I do feel like it forever changed BMX in a way I cannot exactly put a finger on. All I know is today there seems to be less wonder and personal discovery. Everything is clearly laid out and there’s really not much left to speculate or figure out on your own. In the 90s before the internet, there was a certain excitement in figuring something out either on your own terms, seeing someone do
it in person or in an underground video like the Baco or Dorkin vids. That feeling is more or less lost today because everything is in your face and there is such an influx of it, which waters everything down to a mediocre level. Don’t get me wrong, there is still awesome stuff coming out, but it has to be really extraordinary to stand out or become noticed for more than 2 minutes on a blog post amongst 25+ others every day. What do you think is the biggest impact that BACO had on its viewers? Aside from all the newest progressive riding shown in the videos from guys like Chad, Dave and others, it was the do it yourself “fuck it” attitude that inspired people to trudge their own paths through life, even beyond BMX. To try and have fun no matter what. You’re only young once, and alive once in certain situations, so go out there as an individual and do your own damn thing without a shit care in the world of what anyone else thinks. Stick it to the man, defy mass culture and what everyone else is doing. It’s your life, live it to the fullest without taking orders from anyone. How would you describe the reaction of the general public toward this new blu-ray BACO box set? Really, really good by everyone who’s actually seen it. We’ve had a bunch of premieres all over the country, and around the world for that matter, and everyone that we’ve heard from has loved the new doc. http://bacodesigns.com/reviews It’s been a tough thing to get out there though, no question. For one, Baco has always has been a big indie project done by a handful of guys who were passionate about what they did above all else. We don’t have any corporate sponsors or outside money coming in at all. There are no Red Bulls or Monsters of the world giving us funding of any kind, which is actually the way we like it. But today that makes it hard to compete and get noticed, especially when some of the “BMX media” that wants advertising money to even give what you’re doing a mention. Secondly, it’s a large box set compilation covering 25+ years with 11 hours of content. It’s on Blu-ray format only so we could include everything on a single disc in a clean package. It contains the new Push It to 11 documentary, which took a year to produce. Baco as a whole is pretty unconventional in BMX these days. To do all this makes it expensive above and beyond a traditional DVD release, and there’s only a small market for such things. Basically you either have to be a Baco fan, appreciate the history, or want to see the documentary to actually drop the cash to buy the box set. This has been a bit tough to deal with actually, because to manufacture the box sets you have to run a certain quantity to get the price down to a reasonable amount. But then that creates a situation where you have to be able to sell that amount to make it worth spending a full year working on it without doing any other job or having any other income stream. Ultimately we’re just glad we were able to get all the videos together and tell our story through the new documentary, which we truly did work hard on to make it the best it could be. Shit will live on now, which is cool in a certain regard compared to if we hadn’t put out the project and had just let Baco sort of fade off into the dustbin of history. We entered the documentary in the pretty prestigious Wisconsin Film Festival, so we’ll see how that goes. It would be cool if we won an award or something from a nonBMX related entity based solely on the filmmaking and storytelling strengths of the movie, but it’s pretty difficult for indie films to break in these days so we’ll see come February when they announce the chosen films. What are you doing these days? Are you still riding bikes? I ride when I can, flatland mostly in the driveway just playing around trying to learn some new stuff here and there. Doing the Baco project sort of reclaimed a lot of the friendships we all had, which in some cases had been neglected due to different factors like having families and just being busy with what life brings. I am a dad now, as is Chad, Dave and Fluter, and I stay home with my son (2.5 years old) during the days, which takes a lot patience and time. Still trying to keep shit real and fit BMX projects in when I can. Is there anything you’d like to add? Just thanks for the opportunity to answer some good questions and unload some thoughts. Thank you !