Photo: Chris Eiland
If you have been riding BMX for a while now, you have undoubtably have seen plenty of BMX videos from the up and coming riders that are starting to make their way into the pro ranks on a number of teams all around the world. There’s one crew in particular that have been plowing their own trail that go by the name, Common Crew. This crew, which is stacked with talent with riders like Jacob Cable, Ethan Corriere, Devon Smillie, Travis Hughes and more have been on fire for quite a while now and it’s safe to say they haven’t slowed down since laying their foot on the gas pedal. One recurring name that we see popping up in the filmer and editor credits time and time again, Francis Castro, has been expanding his work beyond just this crew, handling some heavy projects for brands like Fit Bike Co., Fly Bikes and more as of late. We’ve been real stoked on Francis’ work, so we figured it would be a good time to get ahold of him to find out just what his story is, what he’s working on these days and what he hopes the future has in store for him. Ready? Let’s do this.
Name: Francis Castro
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Years riding: 6-7 years-ish
Years filming and editing: Little over 4 years.
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
In 7th grade my friends started buying cocaine and doing it, I wanted to get away from that. I was well acquainted with the BMX kids at my school but never actually hung out with them, the heavier my old friends got into drugs the more I hung out with the BMX kids, eventually leading me into getting a bike of my own.
What about filming and editing? Was it something you picked up because of riding with the Common Crew, or were you into cameras before that?
Film/Movie making has followed me around no matter what I was into. In 4th-5th grade I loved action figures so I would make stop motion movies. Then in middle school I got really into drawing so I started making animation on my computer. When I got into BMX and the Common Crew formed, my movie making passion followed.
What was your first camera?
I can’t remember what my first first camera was, but the first camera I used for BMX filming was some $90 flip cam for fisheye, and my dad gave me a Canon T2i for long shots and double angles.
What are you working with today?
Haha, I probably have the least complex set up ever compared to the other dudes making videos for companies and media sites. Just a Panasonic HMC 150, and some Opteka lens that was given to me a few years ago.
Do you have a dream setup at all, or are you pretty content with what you’re working with these days?
I’ve always wanted one of those huge Century fisheye lenses. Another HMC would be cool too. But I have (almost) no complaints with what I’m using now, it’s too simple, and for me simple = fun.
Who are some of the guys you really like working with? Any up and comers you think people need to keep an eye out for?
I love filming with Devon Smillie and my other Common Crew brothers. The @thankyouAF kids are also awesome. I don’t know, I really just like working with anyone who’s down to push themselves and who isn’t a dick head and contributes to a good vibe. Some people coming up that I’d say look out for would be Andy Garcia, Stephan August, and all of the ThankYouAF kids.
I know you have already checked off quite a few names from the list by now, but who are some of the guys you would really like to film with some day that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
I don’t really think about this much. I don’t really have an interest in filming any top super pro or anything like that.. I mostly just want to continue working with the kids coming up. If I can help put them on the map, then that’s sweet.
Let’s say you caught a big budget to take any 5 riders anywhere in the world to film for a video. Who do you bring, where do you go and why?
Thats a tough one. I have too many friends that I love working with to choose from. The idea of doing a BCN video with the SF-IT crew sounds fun though. Those dudes can stack on anything and BCN just seems like the place to be.
What are some of the current projects you’re working on? Anything we can expect to see popping up online soon? Aren’t you guys still putting in work for the Common Crew full-length too?
I’m doing a lot for Fit and Full Factory right now, Ethan Corriere welcome to Fit pro and Austin Augie welcome to Fit. Theres also another Justin Spriet video in the works for them. As for Full Factory, we made a cool video promoting the Clutch hub that I need to edit up. Alec Siemon and I are also working on a welcome to Sunday video thats off the chain. In between all of that, I sort of have another Devon timeline in the works and a Common Crew X Subrosa Rail video that we filmed entirely at El Toro. And yeah the Common Crew DVD (Monster Mash) is almost wrapped up. I’ve been editing the intro recently and it’s to the most epic song ever. I can’t wait for everyone to watch the DVD even if its just for the intro song, haha.
Do you think if you never ended up getting into BMX, you probably would have been as into into filming and editing?
Well like I said, I’ve always been into filming and cutting clips up. BMX is not my final film making destination either.
Obviously it gets hard to get out from behind the lens when everyone knows you’re the filmer. Do you still find a lot of opportunities to stack clips? Who’s somebody you can trust to run the camera when you aren’t?
I’m not really super worried about getting clips. I always think about falling and twisting an ankle then not being able to film, so it sketches me out to do anything film-worthy. I usually stick to wall-e, bumps, and fakie manuals on small ledges, haha. It’s too fun for me to ever wanna do anything different. If I do want to get a clip tho then my main dude Sauce will film it for me.
You have had the opportunity to travel a bit because of BMX, right? Where all have you gone? Anywhere in particular you haven’t been, but really want to get to at some point?
Gone all over SoCal and to NorCal/SF a few times, Arizona, and NYC. Theres been more a lot more trip offers but I have too much going on to make them all. BCN would be cool. (typical)
Who are some of the biggest influences or guys you’re most stoked on when it comes to film work?
Been loving William Strobeck’s stuff more and more recently. He’s the skate filmer for Supreme. His style really changed my whole perspective on making videos. As far as BMX videos go though, I like Ennis’ work. I love how simple yet epic he makes everything look.
What would you say the worst filming trend is in BMX right now?
I don’t know haha. I don’t really think there is a wrong or right way to do anything in BMX. Only thing that sorta bums me out is stretching b-roll to make up for lack of clips.
When it comes to film work, it’s pretty easy to pick out who is behind the lens based off the style of filming. What would you say your style is when it come to filming?
I don’t know if theres an exact term for it but I just like to get close with the fisheye and nice tight shots with the long lens. I like zooming in on faces too. And I like throwing in screaming celebration clips or funny quick b-roll even after super heavy clips. When I make videos I want it to be a fun viewing experience. I want you to feel like you were there watching the clips go down and I never want to paint the riders as these stone cold trick machines.
Have you done any film school or has it all been self taught?
I’ve taken some film classes but just for the sake of taking them. I learned all about my camera through books and the internet.
Do you film outside of BMX at all? I heard weddings can lead to some pretty decent cash.
I’ve recently started this new project with Sauce thats completely outside of BMX but I don’t want to spill any beans just yet.
Where do you hope to take things in the future?
I’m hoping that by 2018 the business I’ve been working on takes off and I could live off of that. On the sidelines I’m working towards my film certificate to get some kind of industry security. I don’t see myself making BMX videos for a living come my mid 20s though. The goal by then is to film videos freely and with no creative borders. Just making them for me and my friends, not having to worry about selling them or going over a companies budget. If I can still get low with a fisheye by then and people are down to take me on trips I’ll always be down.
How can people keep up with you these days?
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
I want to thank my parents, my girlfriend, and of course the Common Crew. Also Hudson, he’s my dog and I love him.
Anything else you want to say?
BMX is cool because you can do whatever you want and no one can tell you its wrong, a lot of people seem to forget that.