PRESENCE LAST STAND – A few words with Jeremy Deme

25 Feb PRESENCE LAST STAND – A few words with Jeremy Deme

I’ve always been fascinated by crew videos, to me they are the best representation of what biking is all about- riding around with your friends. The riding styles, the editing, the music, the b-roll or whatever gets throw in, it all gives you a glimpse into that group’s way of thinking and how they function. That’s something captivating that individual edits can never really do.

But there’s a reason web edits outnumber full length videos nowadays, they are a lot of work and not easy to orchestrate. Not to undermine the effort that goes into individual projects, but a full length video presents a whole slew of different challenges. Everyone involved has to be willing to dedicated months and months of work to a common goal, sit on footage for a long time, organize trips and work around different schedules.

For the filmer it’s a balancing act. Holding the cam, editing everything together, dealing with technical issues, finding music, working with everyone’s vision for how their sections will look, and in some cases filming a part of their own. It’s a difficult task to represent everyone properly, and it’s important to do justice to the extensive hours everyone spent getting clips, but that process is what makes the end result so significant.

With that in mind, when Jeremy Deme told me he was working on a new video with the rest of the Presence dudes, I got excited. Jeremy’s the man, he’s done a bunch of full length videos in the past and they’ve always been awesome. He really cares about making riding look good and that repeatedly comes through in his work. I decided to hit him up with a few questions to try to get an idea of what went into filming Presence’s newest video, LAST STAND.  (Photos courtesy of Mike Cardin.)

 

Jeremy Deme

 

So Jerry, thanks for taking the time to do this! To start, can you explain when Presence first came to be? And who was part of the crew since day one?

Presence was actually just a bunch of good friends in Montreal who spent summers cruising around the city during the day, and chillin in the city in the evenings. We started bringing a camera around with us and filming what we were up to, typically we’d edit all of the footage we had from that particular summer the following winter and have a physical momento (dvd) of that period of our lives. Mike Cardin was always shooting incredible photos and Dewey came up with the name.

I’d consider the OG Presence crew to be Corey Dewey, Mike Cardin, Mike Fiz, myself (Jeremy Deme), Justin Kirnan, Francis Pasquino,  Eric Trepanier, Greg Flag, Dillon Lloyd and Sean Cooke.

 

How many full length projects have you and the crew done?

Good question, I believe volume 1 (2006) was Presence’s first mix tape style dvd which Dewey and Justin had really good parts in. Then came Yesterday (2007?). Then self titled Presence (2008), followed by You Know Time It Is (2010) and now Last Stand. Holy shit it’s been 7 years since our last dvd. I guess, to be fair we dropped the Last Stand promo in 2013 which was all the footy (SD) we had and then restarted from scratch filming in HD.

Before the first Presence dvd came Snuts (2003) which Mikey Bolduc, Eric Trepanier and I filmed but not knowingly that it would come together for anything really. It was a really awesome learning experience, a solid mix of Montreal winters locked indoors for 6 months. Hitting up local/ out of town parks, as well as summers of Trail/street riding. That was an era where filming was by no means a priority, tons of bro cam where anyone was just down to help film each other during a session. The editing process was crazy too, using super generic software because I had no clue. I’m pretty sure I exported that dvd back onto a mini dv tape before getting it onto dvds somehow haha.

Embajada En Barcelona which was filmed by Sean Cooke, Luke Santucci and I for NE as well. Luke and I did the second ten pack dvd also.

So to make a long story short, 5 Presence “full lengths”, one promo and three non Presence projects.

Jeremy’s section in Snuts

 

Wow 5 full lengths is no joke. It’s pretty obvious that full DVD productions are become increasingly rare in BMX, with people now focusing on shorter individual projects. What got you guys motivated to start working on a full length video after the 7 year hiatus?

It’s weird to say this (and makes me feel really old) but we actually lived through the era where the shift of dvds to web occurred. We legit had to buy vhs tapes, dvds and magazines to see BMX when we were fully getting into riding. Content was more limited but it also left a longer lasting impression on us as you watched a lot of these videos on repeat. Web edits started coming along when we were working on our first couple dvd projects. We definitely used some of our winter footage, some b-roll stuff and of course dvd trailers for web but for us the fact that we would have a physical piece to look back on some real good times with friends outweighed what other random people might think. Or even having more people see what we worked on for that matter. I think we are fortunate to have grown up in that era because to a lot of younger riders, web is all they know.

I also think we are very lucky to have been such like minded individuals who believed in having a good time more than self promotion. I think of how talented of riders Dewey, Greg, Fiz, Eric, Kirnan and of course Dillon are, how amazing Montreal is for spots, how well Mike Cardin shot pictures during every project, it just all worked really well together. To us riding with friends was the reason to ride, it wasn’t even about the clips so much as the bullshit that went on during any given day or night. Not one of these guys gave or give a shit about social media likes or personal attention to themselves, all of these guys would have been doing exactly what we were doing even if a camera wasn’t around.

 

Any interesting stories you can share from the many trips you guys went on?

Hmmm where to begin. On the Portland trip we were not even half an hour out of Vancouver when Sean realized the car hood wasn’t closed, it was flapping on the highway. The engine was smoking/ overheating one day, we had to pull over and let it cool off. We were 5 guys with 5 bikes in that car (2000 Subaru Outback), I was convinced we were breaking down on the drive back to Vancouver and I was missing my flight home. Greg rode a road bike back home to Vancouver from Canon beach that trip (600kms). On the Albany trip day two was a complete hangover write off, Albert bought the whole bar drinks that night. The NYC trip, I can’t pinpoint one thing in particular but it as a good time with the best crew.

I know from personal experience that the longer you work on a project, the higher the chances are of something going wrong. Did you run into any trouble while editing?

The external hard drive which I had all of the footage for the dvd on crashed early summer 2017. I’d been stressing my computer being old for the duration of the project but never saw that coming. An external hard drive repair place wanted $500-$1000 to “potentially” recover the clips but that was too expensive to not even be sure to get them back. Luckily I had a second external hard drive with most of the earlier clips on it and a huge SD card in the actual camera which had nearly all of the more recent clips. The biggest bummer was having to restart all of the time lines as a result, I had been plugging parts to that point and filling holes as we got more clips. In the end we only lost a few clips but it was a ton of added work/time.

What’s the Camera setup you used?

Sony A7s, I can’t rave about this camera enough. By far the best setup ever. It will film in complete darkness, to the point the rider will have to stop because they can’t see but the camera footage still looks like day time. Super light setup to carry too which was way more fun pedaling around with. This is the Presence film in HD.

 

Where did you guys travel to film for this video? Do you have a specific favourite city/trip?

We filmed in Portland OR, Vancouver, New York city, Toronto, Albany, Ottawa, Quebec city and of course Montreal. Every trip was an awesome time honestly, they happen less often than they used to so you appreciate them that much more. If I had to pick I’d say NYC and Portland were my two personal favs. Sean coming to Montreal for a couple weeks was awesome also.

Who has full sections?

Corey Dewey, Sean Cooke, myself, Greg Flag and Justin Kirnan have full sections.

 

What’s been the total time spent filming/working on it since the first clip was filmed?

Since late summer 2015 I believe, the Portland trip got the ball rolling. We don’t all live in downtown Montreal anymore, work the same schedules or have the same free time so filming for this one was not as easy as previous full lengths, which is why it took a lot longer.

Probably a tough question to answer, but is there someone’s section would you say you’re most excited about?

All of them honestly. One of the cool things about growing up with and still riding with your squad is that you are genuinely super hyped for your friends when they do something that scared them or took some work to film. Justin came out of retirement a couple years back and is riding better than he ever has. Dewey, Greg and Jeff just never slowed down, even if they ride a bit less often due to adulthood. I think this is Sean’s first part ever so super hyped for him as well. There’s a bunch of awesome stuff from a bunch of other guys in there as well.

 

What was your approach for filming your part? Did you have a list of things you wanted going into it? And are you happy with what you got?

Honestly, I stressed it hard haha. Over the years and all our projects, I haven’t had one part I was fully stoked on. Being the filmer is rad but when you add up a summer’s worth of filming you miss out on a lot of actual riding while behind the lens. I knew we were taking our time on this project so I wanted to put in work to have something I can proudly look back on. The problem with that is I’m now a fragile old man haha. I busted my ribs, foot and wrist within the last three summers, with the foot and wrist happening right in the fall when you’re hoping to get the most stuff done but that’s the way of the road. Winter always seems to hit a couple weeks too soon also.

I had a list, I’d add spots and tricks to it just to not forget about them. I’d been sweating one trick that would have been my ender since Justin found the spot but it never ended up happening. I’m pleased with my part but wish I could have gotten the ender I was hoping for and 5-10 more clips. That’s what keeps you going I guess, never being full satisfied. If everything came easy life would be dull.

 

The process.

Jeremy handling a crusty rail setup.

 

Do you prefer the filming or the editing process?

Filming for sure, there’s something about the chase, surroundings and overall potential of not getting the clip that when it all comes together it’s a thing of beauty.

Are there any other dudes in the squad that like being behind the camera?

Sean is always down but he lives just under 5,000 kms away (Vancouver) so that makes it tricky. Justin Kirnan has actually grown to like it and got better with angles an stuff by the end of this summer.

How do you go about choosing music for a project like this? Does everyone have similar music taste or did some of the dudes want to throw some crazy stuff in there?

I’ve always felt that since the riders bust their ass for their parts, they should have a large say in their song. It’s always blown my mind that some filmers could just tell the riders what song they’re using. Don’t get me wrong the filmer is a big part of the end result, and often has a better ear for what songs will work but ultimately the rider is the one putting his ass on the line for every clip. There should at least be some back and forth to find a compromise.

That being said it can definitely make for a challenge to have an overall vibe or feel to a video/dvd because everyone definitely wants different styles of music. Embajada En Barcelona was the only video I chose the music from start to finish (Jeef suggested the last song actually) and I was humbled by how many dudes actually made a point to mention how well the soundtrack worked. I envisioned the soundtrack to have a happy euro trip vibe with good friends throughout, just a happy vibe that suited Barcelona and the riding. Fidning the right music is sometimes harder than editing.

 

Are there certain videos/filmers that come to mind that have inspired your filming and editing style through the years?

So many honestly. If I had to pick just one of each I’d say Joe Cox and Tomorrow We Work. In my mind, Tomorrow We Work is still one of the most perfect, independent crew videos ever. The riding/ riders were amazing, the spots of course, the uk scenery, music choice and maybe most importantly the camera work which was a perfect combination or long and fish angles. The editing is minimalist to let the riding and footage speak for itself, something I think I always aimed for as well. It was ahead of it’s time and stays current ten years later.

Well thanks for giving insight into the process man! When will you have hard copies available to buy? Is there anything else you want to cover that I might have missed?

Hard copies are now available ( http://presencemtl.bigcartel.com/product/presence-last-stand-dvd ) for $10, and also on digital download available now( https://sellfy.com/p/WQTW/ ) for $5.

Thanks to you Joel for letting us do this on NE and thanks to everyone who came to the premiere, grabbed/ will grab a copy or digital download.

Work on something with your friends, you’ll have something to look back on one day when instagram is old news or non existent.

 

 Watch the Trailer here