20 Questions with Matt Dennison
What are all of your boring details and why am I interviewing you?
My parents named me Matthew 21 years ago in 1992. This makes me an Aries, which according to a quick google search, makes me impatient, selfish, jealous, vain, egotistical and violent. I was born on an island that is below sea level (God save us all) called Richmond. I have lived here all my life. I eat an average of 7 spiders a year in my sleep. And I’m not sure how to use a semi colon; I should really learn.
As to the second part of the question, I’m not sure but I feel sorry for you.
There are some people who think you actually have some talent. How did you become so ballin’ behind the lens and on Final Cut Pro?
They are either 1) compulsive liars 2) paid to say that 3) my parents 4) all of the above
I’m not really sure how I became such a stone cold boss. I was always the creative kid in school who made better posters than everyone else. I was always drawing, building things and playing with lego. I even made the entire ’04 Crankworx course of out popsicle sticks, with functional teeter-totter and all. At the end of high school, video became a new way to express my creativity whether it was through short films or bike videos (for any younger kids watching, video is another word for edit). Since then, it’s all about practice and learning through collaboration… and tutorials on YouTube. But last week I moved to Adobe Premiere and I am no longer the boss I once was.
Were you a video junkie? If so which films did you wear out?
Not at all. I never really have been. However, I have watched many of the classic MTB films where people dorp to falt off skinnies. But I don’t recall watching something over and over again until my eyes burned. The only DVD I wore out as a kid was Dumb and Dumber. In fact, in film school I often felt like I was the only kid who hadn’t watched 90% of the films we discussed. Nowadays I try to keep up to date with my Wes Andersons and my Steven Spielbergs because I don’t like when people judge me.
What is your favourite mtb flick?
Life Cycles. Because life is a river and that’s what granddad always used to say.
How did you get tangled up with nsmb.com?
A combination of connections, good timing and luck. Trevor Hansen (nsmb.com team manager aka. equipment manager) taught physical education at my high school. He knew I was into mountain bikes and would generously hook me up with small pieces of gear and goodies to review. First it was a pair of grips, then a pair of tires, then a bike, then another bike. At the time, I was becoming more interested in video and has just acquired a Canon T1i. Mr. Hansen – which I called him for 5 years of my life – knew about my interest in cameras as he would see me roaming the school filming various projects. Just as the summer of 2010 was around the corner he asked me if I was interested in filming AIRprentice at Silverstar. That was my first project with nsmb.
I must have done a decent job as I was asked to shoot another video, which happened to be my first paid video gig ever! I believe the rest is a case of good timing. Video was becoming a vital part of web media and nsmb did not have any content in that department. After film school Cam asked me to work full time on the site.
tl;dr: Cam has repeatedly proven to be the Lorne Michaels of the mtb world.
Matt made his first dollar with this video for Wade Simmon’s Excellent Adventure.
If you had to be one filmmaker’s slave for a year who would you choose? (and why)
Coincidently, I would probably fluff Lorne Michaels for 365 days – if a producer counts as a filmmaker. I always thought it would be awesome to work on set of late night shows like SNL and Jimmy Fallon. The behind the scenes of those type of productions really fascinates me.
Are there others you look up to inside mtb?
Are you trying to capture the ‘pure distilled essence’ of the ride when you shoot or is it something else you are after? Any techniques?
I guess you could say that, haha. I try to make the riding look fun and exciting by bringing the viewer close to the action. I also like to incorporate a lot of camera movement in my shots through various pieces of equipment. It really depends what the project is though. I try as often as I can to incorporate some element of creativity or comedy into my videos. There is a lot to make fun of within the mtb industry, so why not create memorable videos by making people laugh?
Matt’s “sampled” videos have attracted a lot of attention. Last year he was asked to produce this video for the NBC broadcast of the Dew Tour.
What is the most challenging part of creating mountain bike films?
Creating something different that no one has seen before is always a challenge. It’s no secret that there is a lot of the same old boring cookie-cutter shreddit crap on the intertubes. However, that’s not entirely a bad thing. I think it’s great that anyone who is motivated can buy or borrow a camera, download some software (legally, duh) and start making their own bike films in no time.
Will there be a Beardless & Fearless 2 this year?
We probably see about ten videos on our social media feeds a day. Many of them follow the same formula of rider gets bike, rider puts on goggles, rider’s name pops up on screen while he gazes deeply into the lens, rider may play rock paper scissors with rider #2, rider drops in, show three angles of each jump… we all know how that goes. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not so great. It’s not an easy task to push beyond this formula. I mean, how many different ways can you shoot someone riding a bike through a forest. I try push the boundaries of entertainment in the mountain bike world and create something that people will remember (and retweet). Rocky Mountain Bicycles has also given me the opportunity to make a few memorable videos as well.
Matt’s video of Wade and Thomas is Rocky Mountain’s most viewed video to date.
Tell us about your other gig involving models/super cars/rapping.
I have a fairly successful YouTube channel by the name of IFHT. With my partner Jason Lucas, we create comedic sketches, music videos, parodies and instructional how-to videos. We have over 100 videos, over 120,000 people subscribed to our channel and a view count of nearly 25 million.
Our videos have gathered attention all over the world on the internet, television and in newspapers. We’ve been doing it for just over four years now and have had many surprising things happen to us. We have been interviewed by local and national news a number of times, been on the radio, had a video on the Canucks homepage, attention from Perez Hilton, had opportunities to travel to YouTube’s studio in Los Angeles… it’s been crazy. Crazy fun. Making viral videos, which is another challenge in itself, has become a huge hobby of mine. It’s exciting, sometimes mysterious, and when you are successful it is addicting.
One of IFHT’s many viral videos that blew up over night.
And yes, it has also given us the opportunity to work with some beautiful women, drive fast cars and learn how to rap.
How did IFHT start?
IFHT, which stands for “I F*cking Hate That”, was essentially a product of boredom. In grade 12, Jason and I were both making dirt jump videos for fun. I had borrowed my first HD camcorder from a friend in December of 2009. I really wanted to use it, but due to the weather we couldn’t shoot any biking. Jason and I were brainstorming what else we could shoot while chatting on MSN Messenger, which doesn’t exist anymore (thanks, Obama). Somehow we came up with the idea to make a video series on based on things we hate. We made several god awful videos and uploaded them to facebook. Our friends thought they were funny and would often engage and come up with new concepts for us to write and film. Somewhere down the line we learned about YouTube and the opportunity to make money through the partnership program. I still remember the first amount of money we ever saw in our adsense account – it was a smokin’ 9 cents.
Are you dating one of these models yet?
No. Unless by dating you mean, following them on instagram. Then yes.
Is it true that you get asked for autographs? What has been your weirdest experience with your fans?
We have signed autographs, yes. I have signed girls’ phones before. No boobies though… yet. I can’t remember a weird experience off the top of my head, but I do remember a funny one. A year ago Jason and I were walking to the Pinkbike Christmas party at a bar downtown. We approached the bouncer, who as usual, asked who we were and if we were on the guest list and what not before letting us in. Just at that moment, a small asian girl holding a clarinet case freaks out and asks if were from IFHT and if she can take a picture with us. She then requests if I carry her in my arms in the photo. After we took the photo, we turn around to the bouncer, who no longer cares if were on the list. We then proceeded to the plaid chest-height-beers party.
Matt felt there was a need to make fun of mountain bikers who take themselves too seriously.
Of the vids you’ve shot for nsmb which are you most proud of?
That’s tough. I usually hate every video I make after it has been out for a month. How To Be A Mountain Biker and Shit Mountain Bikers Say are of course top contenders. I’ll say Paul Stevens in Squamish for riding videos. I think I shot it well, the trail is nice and green and Paul is super fast. But I probably just like the song.
Who is the biggest pain in the ass you have worked with?
It’s a tie between Jason Lucas and Morgan Taylor’s dog.
Who was ‘an absolute joy’ to work with?
I really enjoyed working on Arrival with the Coastal Crew. They love fart jokes equally as much as I do. I also appreciate the occasional opportunity I get to work with Sterling Lorence. I’m not sure if he loves fart jokes, but he does love to share his wisdom. Really though, I enjoy working with anyone who shares the same passion for creativity that I do. It’s not hard to tell when someone doesn’t want to be there.
Dream big. Where will you be in five years?
Filling out an application in an Arby’s trying to figure out what went wrong.
What are your goals for 2014?
My goal for this year is simple but not easy. I want a video to reach 1,000,000 views! It’s been a while since that happened. We got close last year but were just shy.
How To Be A Mountain Biker sits at 780,000 views at the time of this post.
The season is just ramping up. What sort of filming plans do you have with nsmb this spring? (without giving too much away)
We’re just about to finish up a new “How To Be” video that I hope will be a hit. I also have a couple other projects brewing that I can’t wait to get started. One will involve some more rapping… if I was better at producing my own beats it would be done a lot sooner!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for watching my videos. Thanks Cam for believing in a young Matthew. And hi Mom!!
Anything to say about Matt or his work? “Leave a comment in the comment section below.”