When the guys at Werehaus out in San Francisco are not producing videos, they’re out taking risks. Example: riding a bike down one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s steepest hills on a bright summer day.
Their one-and-a-half minute clip titled “Bombing Hills” has gotten Terry Barentsen, Brian Chu and Mark Grothman attention in the online video scene because of the exhilarating nature of their awesome Vimeo video showing Terry and Brian zipping down Hawk Hill without helmets, and for Terry, no brakes.
NMR had the chance to speak to the Werehaus guys about how they managed to go down Hawk’s Hill near the Golden Gate Bridge without a scratch and filming it all in one shot.
Terry Barentsen: Hawk Hill is a pretty popular place for road bikes, and I usually go on a Friday ride and ride that way with some friends from [San Francisco]. It’s like an hour to two hour ride, but doing it on a road bike a few times made me want to do it on something else.
Brian Chu: It was kind of easy. We had this car mount, we had a camera. I knew we wanted to film something with it, so we just kind of went around that day and brought cameras around and filmed a bunch of stuff. This was just one long take. We had one go at it too, because it’s a one way road and once you get down there you have to come out a different way. We just tried it, and this was the one take that we thought was funny. We had a bunch of cameras, and this was the one shot we put together. I just uploaded it — I knew it was cool, but sometimes it’s just hard to tell what people think of it.
Were you guys worried about getting injured or hit during the shoot?
Mark Grothman: I was definitely white-knuckled driving. Even though I used a wide-angle lens, I was very close to Brian at times, and I was like, “Man, I hope that Brian doesn’t fall.” The weather was perfect, and it was good times, but we were being cautious. It wasn’t really reckless abandon.
Brian: Having ridden bikes for so long, you’ve been going down hills in San Francisco in the vicinity of cars. It’s not like we don’t ride bikes and say “Oh yeah, let’s do this.” We ride bikes all the time for fun and for transportation too. You always know you could crash, but I never was really that scared. I was really scared for Terry and him trying to stop was pretty scary.
I guess if Terry had brakes, this clip would have lasted longer.
Terry: Probably and we would have been closer together in a pack instead of me being way in front. I thought for sure, “Brian, you’re going to be way in front of me so go ahead. Don’t wait up for me.” We went down, and it was the other way around. I was in the moment. I didn’t think about getting hurt. We were playing around with our bikes, and we were pretty warmed up. We just got ready. It’s a one-way road, so it isn’t as scary going down. The only time I was worried was when I saw the clip. When I saw the video, I said “Wow, I could have been hurt.” The only thing that happened was that I got a grass stain on my back.
How did you feel about this video getting so much attention?
Terry: The video getting so much attention was pretty unexpected. As soon as it started getting a little bit of attention, we kind of noticed that it was getting a lot of traction. Brian talked about it before, and this clip has universal appeal. There’s no real language barrier, no heavy content; just two guys having fun, riding bikes and an amazing, iconic, picturesque spot. It’s hard to say with any video that gains traction what causes that phenomenon. You can’t pinpoint it. The worst thing you could do is try and do that. It was just us doing what we do and having fun.
Have you gotten any collaborations/offers since posting “Bombing Hills”?
Brian: Since the very beginning, our first video content was not commercial-related. Everything we do for ourselves ultimately brings us more work down the line. I can’t say necessarily one video will give you the most amount of work. People identify with other works, and there’s a lot of things, so you just have to put your work out there.
What kind of advice do you have for creators who want to accomplish extreme filming?
Terry: Go out there and just do it. If you’re genuine about the approach, it comes through all the time.
Brian: You don’t need a lot of equipment, but having a minimal amount of knowledge, good timing, a little bit of trial and error. Knowing what looks good and watching a lot of people’s videos helps a lot. A lot of this stuff is hard. It’s not like you could just be like, “OK, I’m going to go at it this time, and I’m imagining it perfectly.” For the most part, it’s about having the general knowledge and going with what you have. It’s not the tool or the riders. You just go out there and have a good time, and that’s when your best work go out. That’s when people relate to it and share it. The more you do that, the more chances of having cool videos.
Any safety tips for the amateurs out there?
Terry: If you’re not sure about doing it, don’t do it, because the camera’s there.
Brian: You don’t want to kill yourself.
Terry: Our whole office commutes to work on bike, and just being on a bike every day is getting enough control on the handles.