“Unreal” is a pretty appropriate name for a new mountain biking film that’s come out, if sample clips released to YouTube are any indication.
The clip in question is the most acclaimed sequence from unReal, a documentary produced by Teton Gravity Research ad Antihill Films as a feature-length visual celebration of mountain biking. In it, Brandon Semenuk, one of the top slopestyle downhill riders in the world, blasts through a series of acrobatic moves and high-speed descents. It’s a breathtaking, beautifully-shot representation of exactly where Semenuk’s towering reputation comes from, for sure. But his grace in the saddle isn’t the only impressive aspect.
Semenuk’s ride is filmed in a single, continuous shot, from start to finish. As much an athletic achievement on a bike, it’s also — especially — a filmmaking achievement, making use of some innovative tools and techniques. The smooth, almost hypnotic cinematography was produced using a gryo-stabilized camera system, the GSS C520, mounted to a truck. That truck, meanwhile, moved on a custom road built alongside a custom trail, where Semenuk worked his magic.
In all, the specially-designed course and apparatus took three weeks to build, and required seamless synchronicity between the producers and Semenuk himself. The result — as both good filmmaking and good cycling performances do — made the whole thing look easy.
Along with Semenuk’s ride, other cyclists are featured in the film, too, which is currently on a worldwide tour: Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Graham Agassiz, Steve Smith, Tom van Steenbergen, and Thomas Vanderham among them. It’s like a visual poem, reveling in the freedom of the trail.
“unReal is for those of us who escape,” materials released by Teton Gravity Research read. “A film that celebrates breaking free from the confines of reality and venturing into a boundless world. This film is dedicated to you — the dreamers, the rule-breakers, the ones who never grow up, the ones who know the secret — the ones who know the way into the unReal world.”
The film is currently available for digital download on Amazon, Google Play, XBox, PlayStation, MGo, Vimeo on Demand, and elsewhere. A Blu-ray and DVD release is also planned.