Brendan Fairclough and Clay Porter’s Deathgrip movie is, in our humble opinion, the MTB movie of the decade.
Celebrating the film is a new, high quality printed book, Deathgrip Book.
We chatted to the creator James McKnight all about the new book.
Deathgrip book’s creator James McKnight has spent his time explore far flung mountain bike trails, growing the trails at Punta Ala, working for Dirt Magazine and – and most recently – producing the Hurly Burly downhill year book.
Is print really dead?
Yeah totally. It’s died and gone to heaven. That’s where we’re at right now for a new swathe of print stuff like Shredder zine and quite a few others I’ve heard of that are in the pipeline.
How did you get involved in this project?
I put together Hurly Burly (2016 World Cup DH season review) at the end of last year and that went down pretty well. It was pretty clear straight away that people have been missing real, 3D, tangible MTB media that isn’t full of shit advertising and printed on waffer-thin paper. Clay Porter gave me a shout to see if I’d be interested in putting together something for Deathgrip, and the rest is history. It also led to the Eskapee Anthology 1 book that we published earlier in the year.
So what got you inspired to make this project happen?
Computers and phones have had a real novelty factor for everyone for the last 10ish years, but I think a lot of people are pretty jaded by the constant onslaught of content (yucky word) being pumped out at 100mph that they just want something slower and more considered.
Basically I just described myself. Few people were making those kinds of products in mountain biking, so I just rolled my sleeves up and got on with it.
What made you decide to create a book about Deathgrip?
Because they said they’d pay me a HELL of a lot of money. Not. In fact we did the entire project on the basis of just wanting to create something permanent and being grateful to have such a f*cking amazing subject to shape it around (Deathgrip).
Was it an easy pitch to get all of the ingredients together?
We didn’t have a great deal of time before everyone involved was either in the thick of the film launch or out at events around the world, so there were many lost hours of sleep pulling it together. It’s absolutely worth it though.
Is it an easy feat putting together a book like this?
Not really! It takes a ken load of commitment to: not sleeping; going deeper into debt; intense working schedule; coffee drinking. It also helps to have some experience – thankfully I’ve been in the game a while now and Jon Gregory, who did the design, is a master of his art.
This being your third high quality tome, does it get any easier?
Well it’s quite an eye-opener going from editorial staff (as I was at Dirt and Bike Magic) and freelancer (I write for a range of media), to publisher.
On an editorial team you rarely, if ever, deal with printers, distributors, accounts, website builds, marketing, etc. It’s helped me realise why there are so many names in the front of most magazines – there are so many jobs that have to be done to put a print product to market.
The experience has taught me a lot that I probably wouldn’t have learned in a job role at an established media house with a full staff.
Did this differ to the previous outings (Hurly Burly and Eskapee Athology 1) in that it’s documenting someone else’s project rather than your own?
Kind of. I had to get into the mindset of the Deathgrip crew and figure what style would suit their thing. They are super cool, really nice people and it was a pleasure to do that.
Do you think the industry has almost come full circle and started seeing the value in bigger, better quality productions whether it’s in print or video?
Yeah I think so. Clay sums it up pretty well in his feature in Deathgrip Book, ‘State of the Art’. There is space for raw and real instant media like Josh Lewis is doing, and there is a desire for fuller, considered stuff. To quote Clay, ‘…if you’re not heading in either of those directions you’re wasting your time, because no one’s paying any attention to anything in between.’
What did you have to give up to get this book in hand?
A lot of personal time and money! Actually I didn’t have any of either in the first place.
I just noticed a typo – somehow a ‘Brendon’ (not Brendan) slipped in there. You’ve been brend on. That hurts my soul.
Working with Jon on the design was super fun. I had got loads of audio recordings from the cast and crew and we had a good laugh listening to some of them. So good that I just transcribed and printed some of them in the book…
I’ve got a few more print projects on the boil for 2017. Stay tuned!