Interview by Mark Noble
Photos by Brian Yeagle
Over the years, camera and editing technology has advanced at an insane rate. With all of this new technology, filming and editing web edits and DVD’s has become something that just about anyone could pull off if they set their mind to it for a little while. It wasn’t always as easy as it is today where you can film a clip on your iPhone and have people from the other side of the world checking it out 30 seconds later. Tom Arkus is one of the guys in BMX who has been producing edits online and DVD’s way back before you had things so easy. With the release of his new Vinyl “LP” DVD, we figured it would be a great time to get ahold of Tom to find out how he got into the film side of BMX. Check out what he had to say in this fresh round of Firsts!
First BMX bike you had:
“Something special seems to happen when you put a kid on a Schwinn BMX”. I will never forget that opening quote from the Schwinn “American Muscle” video. My Schwinn Power Matic came with that video, I was sold on BMX for life.
First BMX Video you watched:
Schwinn “American Muscle” was my first VHS, I watched it so much that I wore out Jay Miron’s part. The intro would just play black lines before he does a nice table on the hip at Woodward East. Then came Little Devil Criminal Mischief. Again I wore out Garrett Byrnes Part of the VHS.
First BMX event / comp / show you went to:
First comp was at Blind Side Sports skatepark in Elkhart, Indiana. I remember more of the Scrap Contest than anything because most of my Midwestbmx (Jeff K and Dom Trovato) friends rode them often. As I got older I started helping Kevin Porter with Ratty Fest comps at 4 seasons, those were some of the best moments for me in the contest faze.
First Video you watched and thought, “I’m doing this”:
“Building the Underground” was when I really got into trails. After that I was hooked on PA Woods DVD’s. That’s when I decided to move out to the Pennsylvania. As a filmer I always admired how the Etnies Forward video was produced. It made me appreciate the art form in film making. Picking up a video camera came naturally to me while on trips with my friends, around that time.
First Pro BMXer you met:
I would say Woodward was when I really got to meet and talk to pros. Jay Miron, Jamie Bestwick were the biggest influnce to me. I remember Bestwick saying to me in person “If you ever become a pro rider, don’t ever be a dick to people, or I will hunt you down.” Not sure if he remembers that himself.
First camera you bought to shoot BMX:
The very first camera I bought to film was stolen at a skatepark within two days. After that I bought a Sony TRV900 (Terrible One) got me into the camera. I ended up buying a TRV950 off Kevin Porter to finish my first DVD. I did have a first generation HD camera made by JVC, but the computers back then did not support the capturing of 720 footage with out buying really expensive capture cards.
Now I own a Sony HD HVR-V1U. The camera still records on tapes, but it’s so brilliant with colors that I will never get rid of it. The camera also holds a strong financial value. I own about 5 GoPro’s also. Saving some money for a Hero 3, so I wouldn’t have to by a fancy DSLR.
First rider you photographed:
This is defiantly not a question for me. I don’t mess with photos at all, if you end up seeing a photograph coming from me that just a fluke. I know some stuff about taking pictures, but I leave that up to David Leep, and Brian Yeagle.
First trip you went on to film BMX:
I would say a Fly Bikes Trip to Pittsburgh with Kevin Porter, David Leep, and Punjab. We filmed and shot photos for DIG and Props (2007).
First professional job for BMX photography or video:
Tony Cardona Profile Racing Ad was my first real gig. In true BMX fashion, I got paid in parts. Tony and I pretty much hung out everyday while I lived in ATX. So it was natural to film together, during that time we where working on the first Vinyl video.
First mess up:
I don’t remember fucking up too much editing or filming. I just recall having communication problems with Fly Bikes because it was hard to get real time responses/feedback while editing web videos for them.
First photo in print:
This is actually recent, last year Yeagle was picked up by Tree, I ended up pulling the trigger on his curve wall to tabe. I believe the photo was published in Ride BMX. I was shocked when I saw my name on the photo credit.
First video published / featured:
Not many people know this, but I have been in the web video game since the beginning of it’s existence. I used to upload videos through a dial-up connection! I give full credit to Jeff K, and his crew for starting web videos. That is what made me want to do it. I used to produce random videos every two weeks for Michianabmx.com.
How long have you done this for.
I have been filming and editing since 2004 or so. I have produced around 200+ short videos, and 2 full length DVD’s. I’d say I’ve filmed / worked with 50% of the BMX industry. Now I just concentrate on my own productions.
What are you working on right now.
Can You Dig It, is one of my priorities right now. We have some good stuff in the works but it takes time. Also once The Wheel Mill is going strong there is a high chance that I will have some input on producing videos for their media side.
Rumour has it we are doing a new Vinyl Video “EP”…
Where are you going next.
Next is the Pay Per View route. That is all I can say.