Travis Pastrana is probably best known for his multiple X-Games Gold medals in motocross and as the face of “Nitro Circus”. Together with his fearless crew of daredevils they released their first full length feature titled “Nitro Circus 3D”. The film documents the crew’s adventure and antics as they make their way cross country to perform in the first ever “Nitro Circus Live” event. The film was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD and Travis took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about the making of the film.
Adam Lawton: How did you first get involved with Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle?
Travis Pastrana: Gregg has been a motocross guy for a long time. He was actually working as a key grip on “Touched by an Angel” and in his off time he would work on motocross stuff. The first time I met Gregg was at a event in Las Vegas when I was 11. A few years later I met him again and he asked if I could choose to do any type of what would it be. I told him that I wanted to jump the Grand Canyon with a parachute on my back while doing a back flip on a dirt bike. The day before my eighteenth birthday I got a call out of the blue from Gregg asking if I wanted to still do that. He offered to pay for my sky diving lessons and to bring me out there. We shot that for “Global Addiction” and the following year we started “Nitro Circus”. He gave me a camera and we just started shooting and editing things. Gregg left being a true Hollywood guy and we traveled all over making motocross films. Jeremy Rawle came in two years later as we needed someone who knew about music rights and all that kind of stuff. Gregg had gotten in to a bit of trouble for using some music he didn’t have the rights so that’s how Jeremy got involved. We had known him as he was a skier and motocross guy. We are kind of a hodgepodge crew but its fun.
AL: Whose idea was it to do a full feature length film?
TP: We had all wanted to do something like this for a long time. MTV came to us and asked initially if we wanted to do 20 episodes of the “Nitro Circus” television show. All of us with the exception of Street Bike Tommy who is still hanging sheet rock have just so much going on we didn’t have the time. A few of the Nitro guys worked on the “Jack Ass 3D” film and they came back and said that the 3D cameras were there and we had the chance to do something that had never been done before. The television stuff lost some of the bigness when it was transferred down so Gregg was like “Let’s do it”. He then went out to try and secure funding. No one wanted to take on the liability or pay the additional 5 million dollars in insurance. We ended up making the film on our own which allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do. If we thought something would work we tried. A lot of things didn’t work while a lot of stuff did. We just had so much fun traveling the world.
AL: How long did the open sequence of the film take to put together?
TP: The two things that cost the most and took the most time were the opening and closing scenes. They ended up changing what was originally supposed to be the closing scene to the opening scene. We learned quite a bit from making this film and we pretty much know what we are doing now. (Laughs) We had originally planned out the entire film however I ended up getting hurt before we shot the big finale. Everything had been geared towards this one stunt and in the bonus features you will get to see all this footage and things will make more sense. We had to change the whole movie around due to my shattered ankle but I think it actually works better. We were able to have all the guys from the “Nitro Circus Live” tour be in the film and that helped fill out the story.
AL: What was the most difficult part of making the film?
TP: To be honest the film was nothing but fun to make. We were able to come up with the funding by a lot of us putting up our own money to get this made. We were all ok with doing that. The distribution part of things I think was the hardest. The only people who seemed really excited about the project were those with kids. There was just no precedence and “Nitro Circus” isn’t like “Jack Ass”. We told them that we are not like “Jack Ass” as we are not hurting ourselves for amusement. We are a group of athletes that are doing some stupid stuff but it is different. We put in 6 million dollars to get the film made and then another 6 million to advertise the film. 3 million of that was just for the 3D cameras. The film essential cost 4 times what it should just because that’s how things work. Are goal was to make a really good film and I think we have done that.
AL: What do you think was the scariest part of shooting?
TP: There were quite a few. Most of them involved Aaron “Wheels” Fotheringham. That guy is such an inspiration. He came to me at one point as he was pretty bummed that a lot of crashes and stuff didn’t make it in to the final cut of the film. I hate to break it down this way but Jolene crashed a lot and we couldn’t use all of them because she’s a pretty girl and it’s not funny to see a pretty girl crashing all the time. It’s also not funny when a guy in a wheelchair crashes. It makes you sad. During one stunt Wheels was partially knocked out and he started singing “My Little Butter Cup”. It was hilarious but we just couldn’t put it in. Those were some tough calls to make but it is what it is.
AL: What other things do you and the rest of the Nitro crew have in the works?
TP: Well Tommy is still hanging sheet rock. Jim had a real bad crash that has taken him out of active sports. He has a real good job and everything but he probably won’t be able to perform BMX anymore. Jolene has been doing stunts on movie after movie. She was one of the stunt drivers in the latest “Batman” film. She is doing a great job in that industry. Erik Roner has been skiing and picked up where he left off with that and his base jumping. For me NASCAR has been really big as well as Rally-Cross.