Dirty South took two years for Jack Slade to trim down to a mere forty minutes and Pete caught with him to chat over the making of.
Jack Slade spent two years documenting the riding scene in South Wales, which is, unsurprisingly full of total pinners.
Pete sat down for a chat with Jack to see where the concept for Dirty South came from and the ups and downs of making a forty minute edit.
Photos by Jack Slade.
Who is Jack Slade?
An 18 year old scally from the Valleys trying to make it in the filming world.
What’s your background in cycling?
Riding came first, my little brother would take me out with his group of mates, digging little tracks and sessioning for hours on end. I got a job working full time in Leisure Lakes Bikes Newport, instantly you’re in the middle of the community as the shop is a little bit of a hub for all the local guys.
What’s your background in the video making?
Before I dropped out to self learn I was doing A level Photography in college, it was shit and did nothing for my creativity. I made my first edit with 3 of the lads about 3 years ago, a cheap DSLR can do wonders.
How did the Dirty South come about?
Honestly, I was filming the Welsh Gravity Enduro a few years back up in Eastridge, with it being mash-up format everyone pedals around stage to stage in their relevant groups. It was only when Rowan, Rhys Sutton, Kyle Fletch, Barter, Carl Jennings, Leigh Johnson etc came spinning past me laughing and joking I realised how lucky and tight nit our community really was. I decided there and then the next project I wanted to do would show off my local scene/riding quality.
How did you choose which riders to shoot with?
The perfect example of how grass roots it is here, 1 or 2 days notice, a quick Instagram DM and you’ve got a filming session with World Cup level DH riders no more than 30 minutes away; crazy. The talent here is so broad it was just a case of taking your pick.
It was especially cool getting the class of 2018 together, some serious ones to watch in there. There was also many people I was dying to get covered, shout out Wookie Trails lads, Afan crew, Rob Williams, Tim Williams, Tom Wheeler, Risca Riders and the Rosser clan.
Were there any key locations you knew you had to shoot?
Tirpentwys for sure. The final section and Manon’s section was shot there, honestly one of the gems of UK mountain biking. Can’t praise the lads enough for what they created here. #RideFoRyan.
Did you plan to make the video a two year project or did it take on a life of its own?
When I got back from Eastridge I messaged Ajay Jones straight away. The original plan was a 5 minute edit of a massive South Wales session. Breaking it down into sections came naturally, slowly after the first few filming sessions the ‘documentary’ style began to shine through.
What kit did you shoot with?
My trusty Canon XA30 camcorder with a Rode microphone. Probably about 10% of the shots used a tripod and the rest is free hand. No drone, no stabiliser, no slow-mo.
Getting shouted at in BMCC, getting chased by dogs with Cai and Leon, Joel Moore flying back from Canada for a Greggs and definitely filming all the next generation, that day up Tirpentwys will stay with me forever, all the lads brought an unreal vibe.
What did making the video teach you about the South Wales scene that you maybe didn’t appreciate when you set out?
The process has definitely been a massive learning curve for me. Most of what I’ve learnt filming/editing wise has come from Dirty South. Before meeting Steve / Jason my knowledge of the Dragon DH series was next to nothing. I think slowly unravelling the sheer impact that the series had on the UK’s scene was crazy. I tried to get that across in the interview so that no matter if you were there or not it’ll be an interesting watch.
Which of the riders really stand out to you in the South Wales scene through making the film (and why)?
Working with Manon again only solidified my opinion of her being a legend in this scene, the DustyHuckers are one of the most refreshing groups of people on and off the bike I have ever met and I also met my now good mate Leo Sandler at BMCC too, big up bro.
Morgan Tyrrell blew me away on both sections too, can’t for him to pull his finger out this year the boy is filthy. My little brother Adam too, you’ll be seeing his name a lot more too this year.
What do you think is it that makes South Wales’ MTB scene so strong?
I think it’s the element of being out the way a little bit, the only reason you go through South Wales is to go to South Wales. The solid history and passionate members of the community for sure. Every hill has a mini-digger too, whether that be in the form of a fully fledged trail crew or a single tool obsessed scratcher. Also, Dragons… (the race series, not the fire-breathing, flying lizard of legend).
What do you think the Scene needs next to grow?
Racing. Yes in this age of social media and media… media we definitely need that series to emulate what the Dragons once were. Somewhere for the kids to see their idols, somewhere they can actually race the tracks they ride weekly. The FOD and Welsh Gravity stuff do a great job but look at the demand for that ‘gnarlier’ race.
Maybe some youth-specific stuff too, Barry Sidings Cafe and Rampworld Cardiff currently run hugely successful kid sessions. Also, to re-iterate what Steve Jones says in the film, we’re ready for WC DH or EWS for sure.
The bonus scene of the film you actually see Ajay break his back. That was crazy because the hospital got the X-ray wrong and he went out digging the next day. Also, half way through the project I dropped my hard drive with the entire film on, £850 later and the data had been recovered.
What’s your next video project going to be?
Planning to delve into different ventures too, music really takes my fancy. I’ve also got a skate video in the pipeline half done.
Are you working alongside to make ends meet?
Working 5 days a week does hinder editing time but you have to make it happen. The main plan is to not spend the rest of my life working a 9-5, that’s not me.
Have you had to overcome any major obstacles to get to this point?
After going through a little something I was at a point where I didn’t even want to finish the film, I was sitting on heaps and heaps of footage, hours worth of interview and I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything with it, super glad I got it done in the end.
Where next for you? How do you plan to go about getting extra helpers etc. etc.?
Staying happy in life and hopefully taking it international (Canada I’m coming for you). Don’t listen to your brain, your heart knows better.
Anybody to thank at this point in the journey? Long suffering spouses/parents/friends?
Ajay and Marie for helping with the filming and motivation, it’s been an absolute blast. Steve and Jason for the interviews, all my family, Leisure Lakes for giving me time to edit and my mates for pushing me along with it/always being supportive and enthusiastic even though they’re nothing to do with bikes, one love.