Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of different people pick up cameras around here. In all reality, I think that’s one thing that has really stood out from the Midwest scene; the number of recognizable names who not only kill it on a bike, but kill it behind the lens. It’s pretty crazy to think of the dense population of filmers in the Chicago / Milwaukee area that have been doing things even before Youtube and Vimeo or even GoPro cameras to make things so much easier to produce an edit and get it out there… It must be in the PBR or something. One of those guys from that area is Grant Castelluzzo who has had plenty of years of experience behind a camera, but up until this past year or so he started turning it into a job instead of just a hobby. We figured it would be a good time to get ahold of him to find out just how things all got started and how they’re going today. Let’s see what he had to say!
Name: Grant Castelluzzo
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Years riding: 12
Years filming and editing: Filming around 10 and editing about 7
So I know you pretty much fell into filming and editing because of BMX, right? Do you remember when you first started picking up cameras?
I started filming precisely because of BMX. I never would have thought to pick up a camera if it was not for BMX. I remember first using a friend of mine’s HI-8 camera when I was about 15 years old. We would all just pass the camera around and film each other at the skate park. Its crazy to think that was ten years ago.
Did you think when you got started that it would progress and ultimately become another talent you’re pretty well known for similar to your riding?
I literally would have never guessed that I would make videos that anyone wanted to watch or anything of the sort. It was such a not serious thing. My whole group of friends filmed. We just basically shared a camera in the early years and did nothing with the footage.
What was your first camera?
The first camera I ever used was some sony HI-8 camera. Probably cost about $300. The first camera I ever owned was a Canon GL2. It got the job done but wasn’t the best thing ever… haha
What’s your current setup looking like?
These days I am full HD. For cameras I have a Canon 60D with a Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens and a Canon 50mm F 1.8 lens. I use this camera mostly for fisheye shots but when I put the 50mm lens on it is amazing for B-roll or tripod shots. Most of the time I have the 60D in an Eazy Handle, which is incredible for filming lines while skating or riding along.
I also have a Panasonic HMC 150 that I use for zooming and long lens stuff.
When it comes to lights I have a 160 LED light panel that is dimmable. It is incredible. The best $45 dollars I have ever spent. I was skeptical at first but it seriously works amazing.
I have some cheap, crappy Promaster tripod that is small and great for traveling. It is all I can afford and it gets the job done.
When I am using the DSLR I use a Rode Video Mic Pro to make sure I can get some quality audio.
When it comes to editing I have a 21inch Imac with 12 GB of RAM and a 13inch MacbookPro with 8 GB of RAM also. Both of my computers have Adobe CS5 and Final Cut 7. I do the majority of my editing in Final Cut and use After Effects for slow-mo and titles.
I know you used to be more into actual filming cameras versus DSLR’s. What are some of the reasons behind that?
I used to be into traditional cameras more than DSLR’s but that was simply because that was all I knew about. Once I got my HMC 150, I realized quickly that to get a good lens it was going to cost me a ton of money. Since I was not comfortable spending three grand on an Extreme Fisheye I had to find another option. I knew if I was going to be filming trips and getting paid I would probably need two cameras. That is when I got interested in a DSLR set up. I got my entire DSLR set up for less than the cost of the Extreme Fisheye and I have two cameras so I can get two angles for certain things. I have absolutely nothing against DSLR cameras at all; I think that they are amazing. Some people say that they feel weird shooting with one but I think that is just vanity getting the better of people. The quality of footage coming out of my DSLR is hardly discernable from my HMC.
Do you have a dream setup or are you pretty content with what you’re working with these days?
I am pretty content with my current set up. I mean I could definitely get a few more things. I have my ideal budget set up. If I had my choice I would have a full frame DSLR and a lot more lens options. I would also have a much nicer tripod, something fluid head and really stable. I would also have a shotgun microphone for my HMC. Mostly, I just want accessories to make my current set up even better.
Over the years you have helped film and edit a ton of edits and even contributed to some DVDs. What are some of the projects that you have worked on that stand out to you?
This last year was a big one for me as far as filming goes. Some that stand out to me are Greg Illingworth’s Baker’s Dozen edit, Madera in Chicago, and Profile in Tulsa. I also contributed clips to Brian Kachinsky’s jaw dropping DK section. It was truly an honor to be a part of that. More recently I helped Jeff Klugiewicz film for the Level Below Chick’n Nugg’t Mixtape, which Jeff did an amazing job on.
I know you kind of took on the role as a team filmer for Profile Racing and Madera. Other than this edit featuring Hinkens that we dropped last week, are you working on anything for them?
I know I am going on a Madera team trip at the end of March. Right now that is about the only thing set in stone. I know that I will be working on team edits for both Madera and Profile this year but plans have not been finalized yet. Hopefully this year will be bigger and better.
Do you have any other edits cooking for other people or brands?
Mutiny has a few things planned this year that I am really proud to be a part of. We are taking some time to film rider sections that will be online released video parts basically. I am in charge of filming Brandon Hoerres and Justin Simpson’s parts. As you can imagine they are both going to turn heads. Gaz and I both believe that they are underrated in their own ways and that if they have time and a proper filmer things will turn out good. I am certain that you guys will want to watch their sections when we are done later this year.
I am also planning on continuing to contribute to Justin Kosman and his channel “Crooked World BMX”. I made a few edits for him last year and am planning on making a bunch for more him this year. I can’t thank him enough.
Let’s talk a little bit about Mike’s new edit. I’ve always known Mike to be pretty good at taking a different approach and riding some unique spots. I’d imagine that lead to taking quite a bit of time to search out spots for this one. How long did you guys film for this?
I know that Mike will be psyched that you said that about his riding. Mike will ride anything and everything. Often times this means we spend hours riding complete crap but this has made Mike a better bike rider in the sense that he does have a unique approach to looking at spots. Mike is my roommate and probably my best friend. Filming with him is seriously way different than filming with anyone else. We ride together nearly every day. I always bring my camera when we go riding. Almost none of this footage was filmed on a “mission” we just go out and ride, if he finds something he wants to do I film it. Some of this footage is really old, maybe 9 months. Since we are always filming we never say “this is going to be for this particular edit”. We just film and then go through the footage when a project comes up and see what fits. Most of this footage is left over from his Madera edit I shot earlier this year. We wanted to make that one short and since we are always filming we had tons of good stuff left over. The rest of the footage is stuff that was filmed just before winter hit.
Where all did you end up going during the filming of this one?
Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Tulsa and Barcelona. Basically just everywhere we went in the last 9 months. No special trips. Just business as usual.
What clip took the most time? Were there any that had a bigger story behind just the 5 seconds of it in the video?
The clip of Mike doing a wallride to 180 off a wedge to flat (1:13 to 1:19) was an interesting one. We were in Barcelona just cruising the streets way out somewhere. We found that set up and as we are looking at it we hear this crazy noise coming from around the corner. We all get up and go look to see what it was. When we look around the corner we see this dude from Argentina we had met the night before nicknamed “el Diablo”, bombing down a crazy triple set of stairs no joke like 20 or more stairs on each set. The noise we heard was him and his friends yelling as he was flying down the first of the 3 sets of stairs. He hit the bottom going so fast that he just blew off his bike. I can’t believe that he didn’t die. The crazy part was that we were in a city as big as Barcelona and we had no plans to meet up with those dudes. Out of all of the places they could have ended up they just happened to end up at the same spot with us, easily ten miles away from where we were living. Wild times.
When it comes to editing a video like this, do you have a process for how you get it done? Do you start with a song and work around that or do you go with the footage and find a song based on the feel of the footage?
Each project is different for me. Sometimes the rider has an idea of a song they would like to use. If I think that it will suit their riding well I am going to be into it. I want the rider to be as happy with their section as I am. If the song comes first then I usually make the riding and the edit fit the feel of the song. If the rider doesn’t have a preference I put the footage in a timeline and sort of see what kind of a track would complement the footage. I am always on the look out for songs that I think would make for a memorable section. It is hard with team trips because everyone has different ideas about what music works best. I usually make the executive decision but I always ask the riders if they have any ideas before I start editing because I want them to be a part of the process.
You’ve got a Masters degree in Criminal Justice… I’m going to assume video production wasn’t a part of the huge list of classes you took. How did you learn everything? Was it pretty much all self-taught?
Yeah that’s the thing, I have never once taken a class on video production or anything of the sort. I have always just done it along side schoolwork. I never thought that I would be making money off of it. I just viewed it as a hobby until just recently. I learned everything mostly by trial and error. I filmed for a while way back when, the footage was terrible and I learned from it. I watched so many videos and still do. I learn from seeing videos, good and bad. I also owe a whole hell of a lot to my good friend Chris Beers. Even though he went to school for motion graphics and visual effects, he really knows his shit. He has helped me with camera advice along with everything else. He was the first person who taught me how to use an editing program. I owe it all to him. Thank you buddy!
I’d imagine having Jeff Klugiewicz around to help you out was a huge help too. Who are some of the filmers and editors out there that you really inspire you?
Jeff K is one of the reasons I got a “real camera” when I was 17. Midwestbmx made me want to put edits together. It was a dream of mine to have footage I filmed on Midwestbmx. When it finally happened I was beyond stoked!
Some of my favorite filmer/editors are Ryan Navazio, Terrell Gordy, Darryl Tacco, and Christian Rigal. There are tons of dudes out there doing it right but those guys stand out in my mind and make the videos I get psyched to watch over and over again.
That’s a proper setup!
Have you done any filming outside of BMX? What’s some of the different things you have done?
I have not done much filming outside of BMX yet. I am interested in starting though. I will be looking for non-BMX work soon.
Who are some of the riders you have had the chance to film with over the years? Any that really stand out to you?
I have filmed with a lot of people over the years. The ones that really stand out to me are Brian Kachinsky, Tom Villareal, Sean Morr, Mike Meister, all of the Milwaukee dudes that hold it down regularly, and lastly Butcher. I mean it doesn’t get much crazier than filming Butcher.
Do you do this for a living or do you gotta work another job to pay the bills?
At the moment this is what I am doing for a living. It barley pays the bills at the level I am at but it gives me the freedom to travel whenever I can and it doesn’t often feel like work. I am looking for more work so that I can live a little better.
What kind of advice do you have for the kids out there looking to get into filming and editing?
Just pick up a camera and start filming. It seriously is that easy. You have to start somewhere. Once you start you can figure out what kind of camera you ultimately want to be shooting with later. The most important thing is time behind the camera and the computer. That’s what makes the difference. You also really have to love doing it. Sometimes it can be frustrating when you are learning all of the techniques but if you are passionate about filming/editing it makes it a lot more pleasant.
Where do you want to take things in the future? Could you see yourself doing this for a real job some day or are you just enjoying the BMX life while you can?
I mean, right now this is a job for me. I am not sure what the future holds for me. I truly enjoy filming and editing and I am doing more than ever. I would like to make a more comfortable living off of filming at some point. Right now it gets me by but it isn’t easy. It does suit living the BMX life well. I set my own schedule. I get to ride as much or as little as I want.
All right, so what about your riding? Have you been filming for a new edit or anything? When can we expect some insanely technical riding footage out of you again?
I have just recently finished filming a split skatepark edit of Brandon Hoerres and myself that will be for Mutiny. As for my own personal edit, I am not sure when the next one will drop. I am hoping to put something really solid together this year, something I am really stoked on. Hopefully it happens.
How are things going with Mutiny? Does Gaz have anything cooking for you in 2013?
Mutiny is great, Gaz really knows what he is doing. I mentioned this earlier but for 2013 we are doing individual sections for a lot of the team and I am going to be filming Brandon Hoerres and Justin Simpson’s. I am hyped on that for sure.
What’s up with Profile Racing? Anything you’re looking forward to with them?
I am always looking forward to things with Profile, Matt holds down the fort over there really well. They make the best products I couldn’t be more amped to ride them. I know we are talking about doing a bunch of team trips but as of yet nothing is set in stone. Traveling with those dudes is always a treat.
Any other sponsor news you can tell us about?
None at the moment! I wish that I had something sweet to tell you about but unfortunately I do not.
Let’s wrap this up. Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
First and foremost I want to thank anyone that has been in front of the lens for me, you guys do the hard part, I just document it. I also need to thank Matt at Profile and Gaz at Mutiny. Not only for helping me out as a sponsor but also for giving me work. Mike Hinkens for being an inspiration, a friend, and a business partner. Neil at 4 Seasons Skatepark for giving me a place to ride during the long winter. Jeff Klugiewicz for motivating me on my bike as well as with filming. Jeff Teague over at Animal bikes for always hooking it up. My parents for always supporting me and helping me through all the years. My girlfriend for putting up with my sometimes ridiculous schedule. I also want to all of the homies that I ride with on a regular basis. Lastly I want to thank you, Kurt, for allowing me to do this interview.
Anything else you want to say?
Kachinsky said it best “find it and grind it”
“Grant Castelluzzo, Jared Eberwein, Jeff Klugiewicz, Mike Meister, and Matt Coplon decided to spend a week in Tulsa, Oklahoma before heading down to this years Texas Toast. This video is a result of a bunch of good sessions, the coolest locals, and amazing spots.
Filmed by: Grant Castelluzzo & Jeff Klugiewicz
Edited by: Grant Castelluzzo
Song: Freelance Whales- “Locked Out””
“The Bakery presents Greg Illingworth
Filmed by Grant Castelluzo and Jeff Wescott
Edited by Jeff Wescott”
“Most of the Madera team headed to Chicago for a long weekend and filmed and shot photos the whole time.
It was short, sweet, and successful. Take a look at the team shredding along side some grassroots homies.
Riders: Josh Eilken, Mike Hinkens, Tom Villarreal, Jeff Dowhen, August Zeratsky, Dylan McCauley
Filmed and edited by: Grant Casteluzzo
Additional filming and thanks to Tony Malouf and Luke Mouradian
Song: No good Mr. Holden”
“Mike Hinkens filmed from California to Barcelona and every where in between for this quick edit. It was kept tight and to the point, so enjoy more than once! Brought to you by Madera BMX and The Come Up
Edited and Filmed by: Grant Castelluzzo>“