Words: Dan Coller – The Making Of His Éclat Pro Video

Interview By Jeff Zielinski
Photos By Jeff Zielinski & Jake Petruchik

If you linked together all the steel Dan Coller has grinded end to end, it could wrap around the globe. No doubt, Dan’s got more in his arsenal than rail skills, but of all the riders out there jumping on rails right now Dan surely has one of most impressive trophy collections. It’s a no-brainer that Éclat turned Dan pro. And not only was his welcome to pro video amazing, but he also orchestrated a lot of the camera angles and he edited the video, as well. In the modern age of BMX, where it takes more than simply being skilled on bike to be a pro, Dan has all the extra trimmings it takes to get to that higher level. We did a little follow up with Dan about the video and what went into it.

How long did you work on this video for? And who helped film it?
I started working on this video in August right before my Kink Titan frame promo came out. I went to Boston to hang out with Aaron Smith and Lee Hopkins just to get started on a new video because I hate getting done with one video and starting from scratch. I always try and get working on the next project before any finished project drops. So I had a good trip to Boston and the day I got home I got the call from Paul [Robinson] telling me that they wanted to put me on pro and I knew right away I didn’t want to half-ass my welcome video. I was stoked to get working! I had a lot of help filming for this one and I’m so thankful for the amount of people that were down to either film or press a button for me. Jake Petruchik, Aaron Smith, Lee Hopkins and Ryan O’ Rourke all were a huge help filming. I couldn’t have done it without them!

Where there any setbacks or things that got away?
There were definitely some setups that I need to go back to in Boston, but I’m not bummed they didn’t work out for this video because I like having reasons to travel back to places I love.

Where as most riders just focus on the riding and let the filmer handle the rest, you’re really hands on with the filming, as well—you even own two video cameras. Does your involvement with the filming of your own clips ever distract you from focusing on the trick itself, or is it all just part of the process for you?
Yeah, I think being in charge of choosing angles and trusting friends to film things a certain way definitely adds a little stress. Whenever I get to film with another filmer and I don’t have to worry about carrying my bag out or think as hard about the angles it’s really nice. But I almost always have a static angle locked off for safety. If I hand someone my camera I trust them to get the shot and I’m thankful I have friends I can trust like that.

What’s it like editing your own welcome to pro video as opposed to having someone else do it?
It’s a double-edged sword for sure. I always feel weird staring at myself on screen for hours on end, but I like getting to make the look and feel exactly how I want it. It’s always awesome when you don’t have to worry about it and I usually have someone like Darryl Tocco—who I know is gonna do a hammer job—but it’s pretty rewarding to be the rider and make the video yourself because that makes it 100% your own project.

As far as variety of rails goes, I’d say you got all bases covered—kinkers, rainbow, curved, step-down, you name it… how much time/travel went into finding all of these amazing rail setups?
It was all East Coast stuff filmed from August until December. Most of it is my hometown of Rochester, NY—which somehow has so many crazy rail set ups that no one has ever seen because Rochester is not a hot spot destination [laughs]. The step rail, the curved rail, the rainbow and a lot of the setups are all either pedal distance or less than a 20 minute drive from my apartment which is pretty cool. I’m definitely lucky with the amount of stuff around here. The rest is all Boston and surrounding areas that Aaron Smith and Lee Hopkins took me too. Boston is one of my favorite places all around and it’s over a six hour drive from where I live, but I think I was up there every month from the summer on because I like it so much up there and the spots are incredible. Also having great dudes like Aaron and Lee up there who are always motivated to ride and let me stay with them makes it a no brainer to hop in the car and get up there. 

Did you approach this video any differently than previous projects you worked on?
Getting the honor of joining the Éclat pro team is a really exciting thing for me and I knew I wanted certain tricks/setups for this one. I feel like I put out footage frequently, but I don’t want a bunch of similar videos with similar clips and different songs. I knew right away what I wanted to do for the ender and I’ve never had that going into a project.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the curved x-up grind you did in Montreal was the first one you did? You really stepped up your game with the one you did in this video. How was it getting that one done?
Yeah, Montreal was the first time I ever tried to x-up grind around a curved rail and that setup was perfect for me first one and it was damn fun. After I did the one in Montreal, Paul mentioned that it would be cool to see me do that on the curved rail from my Kink Intervention part and I knew I wanted to do it for an Éclat video. Once I got the call that I was going to be pro I knew right away that was the move I wanted to be my ender. I waited until my video started to come together to go get that one done because I knew that spot wasn’t going anywhere and I could try it whenever because it’s off a main road into an abandoned business so getting kicked out wasn’t an issue. I was so stoked to get that one done being that it was on my mind for a little while and I had a lot of my friends come out to either help film, shoot the photo or just hang out and help me get it done. Rolling away from that feeling like I just about finished my video was a damn good feeling.

It hurt my eyes too much to count on the video, so how many steps was that behemoth rail you did at the end? As far as rails go with stairs on both sides goes, that’s one of the biggest I’ve seen in recent memory. Was that something you had on your mind for awhile?
I think it was somewhere around the 35/36 mark for stairs. That was the only clip in the video that wasn’t filmed in either Rochester or the Boston area. Jake Petruchik and Ryan O’Rourke were Google mapping spots in other cities in upstate New York and they came across a Google map image of that and knew that I would get stoked when they showed it to me. It looked massive on the Google maps image and I didn’t know what I was in for, but I told Jake that I wanted to get that done the first chance we got. So I think he showed me that rail on a Wednesday and we drove two hours Saturday morning to get that done. It was one of those things that the run up was perfect, the rail was good and once I made the drive and saw it was actually as good as I expected, I had to get it done. Luckily it only took the one try of me eating shit and then it worked out after that. I don’t know if my legs could have handled two of those crashes in a row. That was the first time I’ve ever driven that far to get something done and turn around and go home, but I’m glad I did. I can’t thank Jake enough for coming out there with me, filming it and shooting the photo at the same time. I can’t think of many people who do that just so their friend could grind a rail [laughs]. So thanks again Jake!

How does it feel to be getting bumped to pro for Éclat, who have one of the most stacked and diverse teams of heavy hitters in BMX?
It has happened and it still doesn’t feel real [laughs]. I’m really lucky to be part of such a high-end brand that makes some of the best parts and has such an badass image. Being alongside dudes like AK, Bruno, Burns and everyone is a crazy feeling. I definitely agree Éclat is one of the heaviest teams in BMX and I’m grateful to be put onboard with this crew!

“The 36-stair rail was across from an old folks home and the one guy watched me set up the tripod angle and asked me what I was filming. I told him what I was about to do and he was stoked. He went back inside and got all his friends to come watch and they were cheering me on and telling me on the one I ate shit on I was so close and I can do it. That’s why in the clip it’s so loud when I roll away because it’s the senior citizens all stoked. When I went to pick up my tripod angle camera Jake snapped a photo of me with the elderly who helped me get it done.” 

Growing up in Rochester, how do you dealing with the winter?
I’ll be honest the older I get the harder it gets in some ways. We’ve always been lucky to have rad indoor parks up here, but I start missing the streets quickly. Just going that long without solid sunshine isn’t good for anyone, but when I’m home I do go snowboarding pretty often so I do the best I can to take advantage of it. I always make sure I stay traveling in the winter to keep me happy. By the time you all read this I’ll be on my way to Texas via car with no real return plan.

You’ve been talked about moving to San Diego and Austin, but you’re still in Rochester. What gives?
I ended up getting busy with some East Coast travels and some life shit back home that kept me here longer than expected but I don’t regret it. The Northeast is relatively small and being able to go to places like NYC/Jersey and Boston so easily is pretty awesome and I’ve taken advantage of that more this past summer/fall than I ever have. But like I saidI’m getting in my car in a couple days and driving down to Texas and I’m just gonna see where the road takes me. I’m gonna spend some time in Dallas and Austin and see what happens from there. Pretty stoked on kicking 2017 off that way.

You got added to the Kink squad when you were pretty young. How do you think that affected you as a rider, being able to go on trips and interact with the team at such a young age?
I think it had a huge influence on me. I had a lot to learn but I think that’s pretty normal when you start traveling across the country at 15 with a bunch of BMX riders that are so much older than I was and have been doing it for awhile at that point already. I’ve been on trips recently with guys that are in 18/19 age range and they have never been on real BMX trips and it shows. It’s absolutely nothing against them I just forget how young I was when I got thrown into this, but I’m glad I did, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You’re well versed with filming and knowing how to put a section together really well…is that a Darryl Tocco influence?
Thanks! I got into filming when I was 16 and have been lucky to have Darryl to ask questions about certain aspects or technical things throughout working on my own projects. I love watching videos from all the heaviest filmers in BMX like Darryl, Christian, Navaz, Tony Ennis,Will Stroud, etc… and paying attention to all the detail that goes into everything they do. Between the colors, the places people go, the music to capture the vibe, the angles, I geek out on all of it when it’s done well.

Since you have a good mix of both, what are your thoughts on technical riding versus heavy setups?
Both are so different for me mentally and I really like that. When it comes to technical stuff I don’t stress it as much, but I know I’m going to be putting in some work to get clips done and I love that feeling. It has been a long time since I’ve gotten pissed trying something because I actually enjoy putting in the work if I feel like the setup is worth it. When it comes to heavy stuff I feel like that is way more of a mental game for me because I really try and go into the “one and done” mindset—even though that’s not usually the case. I also hate staring at a setup or waiting on it. When it’s something that is on the scary side, I want to get it done before I give myself enough time to get scared and start overthinking it.

Anything signature part wise in the works with Éclat?
Nothing right now, but I do have an idea for something a little different I would love to start working on. I do have a newKink signature part in the works that I’m really excited about it.

What it’s like going on Éclat trips with a heavy mix of dudes that you don’t know as well the Kink squad?
It’s pretty awesome, the crew is so fun to be around and everyone gets along real well. I wish I could ride with the whole crew all the time. It’s such a diverse group of dudes, but it’s nothing but good vibes when we are all together. Just getting to watch every guy on the pro squad kill it in person is pretty amazing. They are all a bunch of machines!

Following in the lines of dudes like Darryl and Christian Rigal…how hard is it to juggle filming and riding?
The only hard part is traveling with such a heavy ass bag [laughs]. I like juggling both because I feel constantly involved and it keeps me from ever getting bored. I love filming and riding to where I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I’m spending too much time with the camera in my hand or too much time getting the camera getting pointed at me. The hardest part is when I go somewhere on my own and don’t have a filmer with me and have to trust people who don’t ever film. Riding and filming go hand in hand and I’m glad to be on both sides of it.

Photo Credits:
Opener Candid, feeble gap smith – Jake Petruchik
X-up curved rail – Jeff Zielinski
Senior citizens –  Jake Petruchik
Over grind, kinked rail – Jeff Zielinski
X-up curved rail –  Jake Petruchik