Call of Duty
I got a DVD from my good buddy Jeff Tilton just a little while ago and the DVD cover featured a cool Marine Corps logo and the name Semper Ride. I had talked to Jeff some time ago while he was working on this mammoth project and remembered that it sounded impressive, but the final product on the DVD blew me away. I decided to hit up "Full Tilt" and get some of the skinny on this amazing movie.
What is Semper Ride?
Semper Ride is a movie that Dirk Collins and I produced for the Marine Corps. The movie is essentially an overview on how to properly ride a motorcycle whether it be dirt or street. It covers topics such as proper safety gear, riding at the proper venues and riding the correct bike for your skill level. The cool thing about the movie is it was shot like an action sports film and all of the messages come from pro riders or top motorcycle instructors.
What was the reason you made the movie?
Well, after researching the statistics of the who had died in motorcycle accidents and why they crashed, it was determined that the problem demographic is young Marines who have recently returned from deployment. The Marines have had a growing problem of guys crashing street bikes off duty. Last year 25 Marines died in motorcycle accidents and 21 died in Iraq. The crashes were mostly caused by loss of control at high speeds. So basically these guys are coming back from a year-long deployment, have money to spend, and are going out and buying sport bikes with little to no motorcycle riding experience. A sport bike like a Yamaha R1 goes over a hundred miles an hour in first gear! It really isn't a bike for a beginner.
How did you get hooked up with the Marines?
The executive producer, Jim Conway, has been working with the Marines for several years now. Jim is a former pro skier and has been a safety coordinator for Teton Gravity Research who makes snowboard and ski movies. So he would go in and give presentations on how he does his safety coordination in the mountains on film shoots to different groups within the Marine Corps. Through that he has become very respected with the Marine Corps safety office as well as the Assistant Commandant of the Marines, General Amos. They asked Jim to go through and evaluate what was in place for motorcycle training and education. He went through and evaluated what was available then came to myself and Dirk Collins to figure out what we could do to help with the problem. The thing that we decided was most important was to educate the Marines on how to get into motorcycling correctly through a movie.
What was the coolest part of making the movie?
Pretty much everything I have ever done is to entertain people. With the TNT demo program and the television show we produce, "The Great Ride Open", success is putting a smile on people faces or making them cheer. On this project success is saving a life. The other thing that was cool was how the motorcycle industry and the athletes came together to help us make this movie. It is great to be able to give back to our troops, because at the end of the day, they are the reason we have the freedom to be able to go out and ride motorcycles.
What advice do you personally have for someone getting their first street bike?
If you have never ridden a motorcycle, my advice is to go get a dirt bike. It takes a lot of time to learn how to ride a motorcycle and learning on a dirt bike is a lot safer. To me, if you have to even think about how operate the motorcycle, you shouldn't be on the streets. If you are getting a street bike, make sure you get training on that bike by proper instructors in a controlled environment before taking it on public roads.
Who were all the riders in Semper Ride?
Man, we had the best of the best. From motocross racing it was James Stewart, Jeremy Mcgrath, Josh Hill and Sara Price. From freestyle motocross we had Tommy Clowers, Ronnie Renner, Myles Richmond and myself. Marty Smith a legend of the sport who is now one of the top instructors was also involved. From the street side we had racers Ben Bostrom and Josh Herrin, as well as freestyle riders Chris "Teach" Mcneil and Jason Britton. Legendary street bike instructor Keith Code and his team from the California Superbike School also helped out. We straight up had an all-star cast! I still can't believe I was able to get all these guys to be a part of this.
How hard was it to get such big stars like Stewart, McGrath and Bostrom in the movie?
It wasn't really hard at all. As soon as I explained what the project was, every one of the athletes was honored to be a part of it. It was really cool to see all these guys give back to our troops and give their time and knowledge to this movie. It definitely makes me proud to be in the motorcycle industry.
Where was the movie shot at?
We were all over the place! We started at Renner's compound and then went to Glamis and Ocotillo Wells. After we got done with all the desert stuff we headed to this unreal trail riding area called Corral Canyon. I love trail riding so this was a super fun location. After that we shot at Yamaha's supercross track then Lake Elsinore Motocross Park. Then we wrapped it up at Willow Springs, which is a street bike racetrack.
I heard you a pretty successful premier of the movie recently?
Yeah, on June 25th we had a premiere at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and a couple of its satellite bases. We had 4 different theaters with 6 showings at each location. We had 22,500 Marines watch the movie in one day. The cool thing was that we made it a super fun and informative event, not just the movie. We had freestyle motocross demos, street freestyle demos and around 50 exhibitors that showcased safety gear, motorcycles, tracks and much more. It was a huge success!
So where do you go next with this?
Our goal was to make a safety movie that you can actually watch and not be bored with, but at the same time educate the viewer. I really feel that we revolutionized the way to make a safety movie. It is also exciting that Semper Ride has become much more than just a movie. It's become a brand that represents motorcycle safety within the Marine Corps. We are now further developing the brand through events and are getting ready to do a full build out of semperride.com. You can currently go to www.semperride.com and view the movie trailer as well as photos from the different events we have already produced.